Can I get pregnant during perimenopause? Yes, you can, despite your decreased fertility rate. If you don't wish to become pregnant, you should enter into a birth control plan.
We at Gyn LA are dedicated to helping women residing in Los Angeles better their reproductive health and improve their overall wellbeing. You can reach out to us if you have any concerns relating to your reproductive health. For more information on how perimenopause affects pregnancy, continue reading this article.
What is Perimenopause?
Today, most women, whether they are in a relationship or single, would like to give birth to their first child in their late 30s or 40s. Women tend to focus more on their careers, businesses, and education in their 20s, and they only think of having children when they are financially secure at midlife. However, it may become increasingly difficult to conceive as women advance in age. At the onset of midlife, there is a phase called perimenopause. Perimenopause leads to menopause, which marks the end of the reproductive years of a woman.
Perimenopause is also referred to as menopause transition. When you are in perimenopause, your body will start to prepare for menopause. For instance, your ovaries will begin to produce fewer amounts of estrogen hormone.
Most women start experiencing perimenopause in their 40s, but it can as well as start when a woman hits thirty. Perimenopause stops at the onset of menopause, which is usually a couple of years from when perimenopause had started. The phase of perimenopause will end when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, or when she completes a year without having periods.
On average, the perimenopausal phase lasts for four years. However, this phase may take just a couple of months for some women, while others may experience it for up to ten years. During perimenopause, menstrual cycles tend to become irregular, making conception harder. Nonetheless, you can still conceive during perimenopause since ovulation continues.
The Symptoms of Perimenopause
Your body will undergo various hormonal changes during perimenopause. These hormonal changes will make you experience certain physical symptoms, such as:
- Irregular periods
- Hair loss
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Urine leakage
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Low levels of energy
- Heart palpitations
Some women may experience just a few of these symptoms, while others will experience all of them. Most women tend to confuse these symptoms as those of perimenopause. Such women may be having other reproductive health problems such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids that also exhibit these symptoms. You should always reach out to a doctor when you experience any of these symptoms to get a full medical diagnosis.
Perimenopause Pregnancy Statistics
As we asserted earlier, it is possible to become pregnant during perimenopause. As per the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2014, there were over 743 births in women aged over 50 years. Additionally, the rate of delivery for women who were between 45-49 years was 0.8:1000. Though these numbers may seem small, they indicate that a woman can conceive during perimenopause.
Every woman has a limited supply of eggs. As a woman gets older, her eggs’ reserve declines. The remaining eggs will start aging, increasing the risk of a chromosomal abnormality if conception happens.
Women who are below 30 years old have a 20% probability of getting pregnant in any given month, compared to their 40s counterparts. It can be quite challenging to conceive naturally during perimenopause, and even while using advanced reproductive health techniques such as in-vitro fertilization. A woman who is in perimenopause will have fewer eggs that may be of low-quality. Additionally, such a woman has a 50% risk of having a miscarriage and suffering from congenital abnormalities.
As a woman in perimenopause, you may opt to use donor eggs to increase your chances of pregnancy. However, this is a difficult choice, especially if you already have other biological children.
How Does Pregnancy Occur During Perimenopause?
Ovulation will still take place during perimenopause. When your ovary releases a viable egg and it becomes fertilized, you will be able to conceive. It is only when ovulation stops when you will be unable to conceive naturally.
You can look out for various symptoms of ovulation to predict when you can conceive. Some of these symptoms include white vaginal discharge and breast tenderness. You can also utilize ovulation test strips to know the period when you will be most fertile.
How to Increase the Chances of Becoming Pregnant During Perimenopause
You must start preparing for pregnancy before conception, especially if you are in perimenopause. For you to conceive, you should maintain the hormone levels that can promote conception and lead a healthier lifestyle. Here is how you can increase the chances of becoming pregnant during perimenopause:
1. Protect Liver Health
The liver is the body's master detoxifier. By the time you reach 40 years, your liver has endured plenty of toxins and absorbed various nutrients. Also, it has worked for a long time, breaking down macronutrients and excreting excess toxins and hormones that circulate within your body. Moreover, it has converted food and fluids into life-sustaining nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that protect and fuel your body.
When the liver is tired or overworked, it can bring about various symptoms that cause hormonal imbalance. These symptoms will make it difficult for you to conceive, and they may also result in fertility health problems.
You need to protect liver health during perimenopause. One of the best ways to support liver health and promote hormone balance is to carry out fertility cleanse. Fertility cleansing utilizes specific herbal blends that help to nourish the liver and eliminate any present toxins.
2. Observe Proper Nutrition
You should maintain a healthy and nutritious diet during perimenopause to increase your chances of pregnancy. You should eat whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fiber, and conservative amounts of lean organic animal products. A woman who would like to become pregnant during perimenopause should follow a diet that must include:
- Bioflavonoids to help eliminate hot flashes, balance the levels of estrogen, and regulate moods.
- Calcium to support and maintain bone growth and strength of the prospective fetus.
- Healthy fatty acids to assist in the production of hormones and in supporting brain health.
- Water to enable proper blood circulation and prevent dehydration.
You can also consider eating flax seeds periodically. Flax seeds are very instrumental in promoting hormone metabolism. They also have high fiber content, and they can help your body to get rid of xenoestrogens. Apart from flax seeds, you can use omega-3 supplements to boost hormone production.
You should avoid or limit conventional meat, including red meats, since they can cause an imbalance in your hormone levels. Choose organic, free-range chicken, and freshwater fish. Avoid tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and fried and highly processed foods. Prefer to eat your meals steamed, baked, or raw.
You should exercise regularly to promote your fertility rate during perimenopause. Exercise prepares your entire body for pregnancy, and it plays a significant role in your overall health and wellbeing.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, regular workouts will help you to stay in shape ahead of pregnancy. For instance, exercising assists in toning your heart, which will be essential in supplying sufficient amounts of blood and nutrients to the developing fetus. Also, exercising reduces stress and enables you to sleep more comfortably. When you get pregnant, you should go on working out to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and avoid severe pregnancy symptoms such as bloating and backache. What's more – exercising will boost the heart and brain health of your body, and it will make delivery easier!
4. Avoid Stress
You should take care of your emotional health during perimenopause. The adrenal glands, which are situated above the kidneys, are essential in releasing hormones that respond to stress. Chronic stress may diminish their health, which will affect your hormone balance and fertility rate.
During perimenopause, your ovaries will begin to stop producing estrogen. When they do so, your adrenal glands will take over the production of estrogen.
Not only do adrenal glands help you cope with stress, but they also help you achieve a hormonal balance that is essential for you to conceive. When you support adrenal health, conceiving will become much easier, and you will experience fewer physical symptoms of perimenopause.
Stress affects your emotional health and reduces the effectiveness of your adrenal glands. Different events in your day to day life may result in stress, but you should work diligently to lower your stress levels.
Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy During Perimenopause
When you've conceived successfully, you should work towards maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Make sure you find a medical doctor to give you professional advice on the best prenatal care options. You should also go on leading a healthy lifestyle, including observing a well-balanced diet, exercising, and managing stress.
The Health Complications of Getting Pregnant During Perimenopause
Older women may face more health complications that are associated with pregnancy. This is why you should seek professional advice to minimize these health risks. As a pregnant woman in perimenopause, you have a higher risk of:
- Stillbirth or miscarriage
- Multiple pregnancies, especially if you’ve undergone in-vitro fertilization
- An ectopic pregnancy
- Cesarean delivery
- High blood pressure that may lead to preeclampsia which can cause an infant or maternal death, brain injury, impaired liver and kidney function, seizures, or blood clots
- Premature birth
- Low baby birth weight
- Placental abruption and Previa
- Gestational diabetes
Furthermore, babies are at risk of developing health complications during perimenopausal pregnancy. The more a woman advances in age, her chromosomes grow older, and they may start developing abnormalities. A child who is conceived by an older mother has a high risk of being born with Down Syndrome. As illustrated by the National Down Syndrome Society, the risk of a woman giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome increases from 1:1200 at age 25, to 1:100 at ages 40-49 and 1:10 at age 50.
We recommend you consult a certified reproductive health professional before you start preparing for pregnancy during perimenopause. You can also go through genetic tests to ensure you avoid giving birth to a baby with a chromosomal disorder. If the doctor finds out that you have a chromosomal abnormality, you may opt for an egg donation.
Should I Freeze my Eggs?
If you would like to give birth in your 30s or 40s, you should consider freezing your eggs at a younger age to preserve your fertility. This way, you will increase your chances of becoming pregnant during perimenopause.
The egg preservation process may take a couple of days, and you will have to make routine visits to the doctor. The doctor will initiate the freezing process by giving you specific hormonal treatment in the form of injections to stimulate your ovaries for them to produce multiple eggs. Then, he/she will retrieve the eggs, place them inside a vitrification solution, and store them until you are ready to conceive.
When you believe it is the right time to become pregnant, your doctor will prepare your uterus for implantation, and thaw and fertilize one of your eggs. The fertilized egg will start developing into an embryo while in the laboratory, which will be later transferred into your uterus.
Avoiding Pregnancy during Perimenopause
Since it is possible to become pregnant during perimenopause, you should consider using contraceptives if you wouldn’t like to conceive. Because the risk of maternal and baby health complications is much higher during perimenopause, you should utilize birth control measures to prevent unplanned pregnancies that can make you more vulnerable to such complications.
According to the North American Menopause Society, over-the-counter contraceptives work more effectively in perimenopausal women. Also, birth control pills containing progestin and estrogen may reduce certain perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and irregular bleeding. The only time you should stop using contraceptives is when you reach menopause.
Find a Full-service Women’s Reproductive Health Care Clinic Near Me
We at the Gyn LA in Los Angeles understand that the right time for you to conceive is not always in line with your biological clock. We know that you need to be both financially and emotionally secure before you have a child. Whether you are trying to conceive during perimenopause or preserving your fertility at a young age, our doors are open for you. We will assist you in planning your journey to motherhood. Call us today at 310-375-8446