Q: I didn’t think I ever wanted to have children. Now that I’ve found the right partner and things have changed in my life, I feel differently. I’m 45 and would like to try getting pregnant, but wonder if I might be too close to menopause. Can I put off menopause to get pregnant?
A: The short answer is no, there is currently no way to delay menopause to preserve fertility. Menopause is a natural process that can’t be put off (although, by optimizing your nutrition, you can help prevent it from taking place prematurely).
But that does not mean that you can’t get pregnant at this point in your life. More and more women are having children later in life. This happens for many reasons, from wanting to fulfill career goals to not finding the right partner in one’s youth. Regardless of the reason, some women suddenly want to have a child before they hit menopause. For some women, it is quite possible to become pregnant in your 40’s — or even into your 50’s.
Remember that menopause represents the conclusion of your reproductive phase, not a particular birthday. So, 45 can still be a fertile time for you, depending on your unique physiology. If you’re still ovulating, you may look into harvesting your eggs and having them frozen for later years. But once a woman transitions through menopause she most likely won’t release fertilizable eggs. And as we age, the more likely our eggs are to divide abnormally or carry chromosomal defects.
However, there is some promising research going on with stem cells and how they may help women extend their fertility. The idea is to use women’s ovarian stem cells to grow into viable eggs and lengthen women’s fertility. This research is still very new and has not been widely tested, but gives us hope for the future.
We feel that the best thing you can do for yourself is to give your body what it needs nutritionally and emotionally. But keep in mind, as you get closer to menopause it may not be as easy to become pregnant. If you have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and you are over the age of 40, you might seek advice from a fertility specialist who can look at your reproductive system and the viability of your eggs. A specialist can also offer you the best options for inducing ovulation or help you consider in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs to increase your odds of conception.
There are many ways for you to prepare your body for fertility. Many women have good results by resolving emotional or stress-related blocks to fertility through Alice Domar’s mind/body programs.
Remember that there are many ways to welcome a child into your life, and you will get there if that is what you truly want.