Pregnancy at the age of 40: reasons to postpone motherhood today
The demands of society nowadays mean that pregnancy at the age of 40 is becoming increasingly more frequent. In today’s day and age, maternity forms part of our mid to long-term goals. However, we don’t have a good grasp on the reality of our reproductive functioning or the fertility prognosis of the human species.
Personal circumstances, especially professional ones, make it so that some women cannot start to plan for motherhood before the age of 40. Fertility at this age, or the chances of achieving a viable pregnancy, is between 5 and 10%.
Some information about pregnancy at the age of 40
According to recent data published by the National Statistics Institute, Spanish women are waiting increasingly longer to have their first child. In fact, we are the European country with the lowest birth rate.
But it’s not just that. We are also at the back of the line regarding the age at which the first child is born. A decade ago the average woman had her first child around the age of 29.3 years, and in 2018 this average had increased to 32.2 years. Current data point to an unstoppable tendency…
Finally, another indicator of the delay in maternity can be observed in the number of births in mothers who are 40 or older. This number has grown by 63.1% in just ten years. In 2008, only 4.2% of births were to mothers 40 or older, while by 2018 this percentage had increased to 9.7%.
Why is Spain the country with the lowest fertility and birth rates in Europe
You’re likely asking yourself what’s going on to cause this situation. As with many other matters, a combination of factors has led to this problem.
To start with, we are one of the countries with the highest rate of unemployment in Europe. This reality is especially prevalent in the younger population. And it turns out that the window between the ages of 25 and 35 just so happens to be the ideal reproductive age. To paint a clearer picture, according to data from the Emancipation Observatory of the National Youth Council, only 19% of people under the age of 30 are able to move out of their parents’ homes.
Another factor is the options that people have for combining work and family life. Despite efforts, the reality is that there are very few work-family conciliation policies. This obviously makes it much more difficult to make a decision in terms of trying to conceive.
But these are not the only reasons. We could continue talking about other important points such as job insecurity, low salaries, difficulties accessing the housing market, etc.
Pregnancy at the age of 40 or later, a decision to be made carefully
The majority of women believe that maternity is important and hope to have two or three children, the last one after the age of 35. Becoming a mother is a decision a female makes voluntarily and is not something that society enforces on her.
Being in a stable relationship, reaching a certain level professionally and having financial security are aspects that women take into consideration before thinking about motherhood. However, most couples underestimate the impact of the female’s age on their fertility and, at the same time, overestimate the results that assisted reproduction techniques can provide.
This can lead to a dangerous situation in which couples may risk waiting too long to start trying to conceive. Postponing parenthood is the couple’s own personal choice, but it must be an informed decision they make while keeping in mind the possible consequences.
When a family doctor or gynaecologist tells a patient that everything is perfectly fine at their annual check-up, this doesn’t mean that everything is fine from a reproductive point of view. A woman over the age of 40 may be in perfect health and have normal gynaecological check-ups, etc., but at the same time she is also extremely likely to have a poor reproductive prognosis. This is simply because fertility is related to the female’s age, not to her general health.
The solution to this problem isn’t to go to an assisted reproduction clinic to undergo a cycle of in vitro fertilisation or preservation of fertility. It’s a question of trying to conceive naturally at the best time from a physiological point of view.
This obviously means that a lot of things need to change. As we discussed before, we need conciliation policies which involve society as a whole. And we also need to take educational and preventative measures in order to prevent delayed parenthood and the consequences it entails.
At our fertility clinic in Spain we are fully aware of these factors. For that reason we are completely transparent with everything that has to do with fertility. We like to explain the reasons behind things and to advise the women and couples who come to see us as best as possible.
If you have questions, we can certainly help you: contact us!