Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Can She, or Can't She?

First they tell women that it's practically impossible to get pregnant over 45 years old:

Conception rates for normal healthy couples are, at best, 20-25% per menstrual cycle. Once a woman reaches the age of 35, her fertility begins to decline. By age 40, it is estimated that her conception rate is in the range of 8-10% per month and at age 43, the pregnancy rate is thought to be as low as 1-3% per month. Source

But then they tell them that they must continue to take birth control, if they don't wish to become pregnant:

If you are going through menopause you may be thinking that you are about to be free from the burden of children. Maybe your kids are just leaving home and you are thinking about how wonderful it will be to have the house to yourself again. Well, before you redecorate you should probably know that, even during menopause, it is possible to become pregnant. Women as old as 50 have been known to get pregnant naturally, particularly during perimenopause. It is therefore important for you to know as much as possible about your options during menopause to ensure a safe and healthy reproductive life. Source

Then they try to scare them with Downs Syndrome statistics:

The likelihood of Down syndrome continues to increase as a woman ages, so that by age 42, the chance is 1 in 60 that a pregnant woman will have a baby with Down syndrome, and by age 49, the chance is 1 in 12. Source
But what they don't tell you is that, in reality, a 1 in 12 chance leaves you with an 91.7% chance of NOT having a Down's Syndrome baby. Plus, having a Downs baby is NOT the end of the world!
The Down's Syndrome Association argues that the reality is quite different with most babies born today likely to attend at least a mainstream primary school and to enjoy a healthy life of around sixty years plus. Many are able to live a semi-independent adult life with the same goals about work, relationships and leisure pursuits shared by many. People with Down's syndrome are also keen to speak out about their own lives and ambitions to debunk outdated perceptions. Source
And if, the chances of a woman over 40 getting pregnant without medical intervention, why is it that so many find themselves with an unexpected, and unwanted pregnancy?

What about the fact that the number of unintended pregnancies in women between 40 and 44 is second only to teenagers?
Many women in their 40's think their too old to get pregnant, they get little lax with their birth control, and bingo!

Now the latest recommendation is that until you hit menopause, you should treat your body as if you might get pregnant, even if you have no intention of having another child!
Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.
Which begs the question - can she or can't she get pregnant over 45? The answer is:

2,196 Stories of Pregnancy and Birth over 44 years old

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