Menopause

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Can I Get Pregnant During Perimenopause?

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A pregnant woman holding up baby booties. Photo: IStockPhotoWith so many Hollywood celebrities having children in their 40s, and some even in their 50s, one might think that conceiving children in the mid-life years is a snap. I mean, Halle Berry just makes it look effortless, doesn’t she?  

But the unvarnished truth is, statistically, the chances of conception occurring naturally after the age of 40  (when most women are entering perimenopause) are approximately 5 percent at best. With hormone levels fluctuating wildly, as they do for so many women during perimenopause, the necessary hormonal balance to facilitate fertility is just not there.

In addition, anovulatory menstrual cycles - menstrual cycles which occur without ovulation - are also common for women who are in perimenopause. When there is no ovulation, there is no fertility and no pregnancy. Add to this tenuous fertility environment the fact that our eggs are aging and diminishing in quality as we get older, and it's easy to see why women conceiving children without the help of medical intervention in our 40s is not really common place.

If you are one of those women who actually transcends the statistical hurdles and does conceive during perimenopause, the chances of a miscarriage in the first trimester is approximately 50 percent, with an additional 20 percent chance of pre-term labor

However, it can and does happen, as I can personally attest. I naturally (and quite unexpectedly) conceived my third child at the ripe old age of 42, just after I began going through perimenopause. I had an unexpected mid-cycle period, which unbeknownst to me, also reset my ovulation cycle, and viola’, baby was conceived. I gave birth to her when I was nearly 43, and she is now 14 years old.

Without question, she was the greatest “mistake” I’ve ever made.

In fact, I was so inspired by her birth that I actively tried to conceive more children for several years after she was born.  But, unfortunately, it was all to no avail.

Should You Use Birth Control During Perimenopause?

The math is certainly against your being able to naturally conceive and carry a child to term during the perimenopause years. However, it absolutely can happen. So, unless you would like to have another child, it would be wise to take precautionary measures. 

Some women continue to take birth control pills well into their perimenopause years, both for protection against unwanted pregnancy, and to treat their perimenopause symptoms. As you all know, I’m not a huge fan of birth control pills for much of anything.   

But, if are able to take them with no difficult side effects, and you wish to, by all means, don’t let my personal opinion be your guide. Of course, there are certainly plenty of other methods of birth control available as well. But, whatever you do, ladies, just don’t play “fertility roulette” during your perimenopause years. Unless of course, like me, you don’t mind the idea of being 60 when your child graduates from high school.  

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.

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Tags: Perimenopause

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.

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