Many women wait to start families until they get their careers firmly established. They opt to buy a house, get a retirement account started and take a few carefree vacations before moving into mommy mode, but when they finally decide they are ready, they worry that they may have waited too long. Knowing the indicators of when you may be too old to conceive can help alleviate your concerns.
Chart you monthly cycle for three cycles. Determine if they are getting further apart, closer together or staying the same. If they are changing, it may be an indicator you are approaching menopause and do not have a lot of time left to become pregnant. If they are still the same pattern as they have always been, it may mean you still have plenty of time to conceive. Women going into menopause do not always have a change in cycle before ceasing, so do not use this as the only measurement of fertility.
Ask your doctor to order a blood test that determines your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level. A high level indicates you may be running low on the number of eggs still left in your ovaries. A low level indicates you still have a sufficient number of eggs to achieve traditional conception. A very high FSH level usually means you are in ovarian failure. Women are born with a certain number of eggs in the ovaries and, as they go through life, those eggs are released with every cycle. Eventually, the eggs run out and you go into menopause. The FSH test is one indicator of how many eggs you have left.
Have an inhibin B test performed at the same time they do the FSH testing. When you have reduced inhibin levels, you probably have a low egg reserve in the ovaries. A normal inhibin B result does not guarantee you are still young enough to conceive, because as you age, the quality of your remaining eggs also starts to decline. The inhibin B test can rule out one indicator of being too old to get pregnant, but further assessment should be done if you continue to fail to get pregnant.
Evaluate your lifestyle and future plans. Being too old to get pregnant should not just center on being physically capable to conceive. It should also take into account the plans you have for the rest of your life, any genetic conditions that may be involved and the state of your health as well as your partner’s health. Deciding to bring a child into the world when you are beyond the average age of conception is a deeply personal decision and one that can only be made by you and your partner. Once the child is born it is too late to change your mind, so take some time to evaluate your desire.
- pregnant woman image by Valentin Mosichev from Fotolia.com