Pregnancy In Our 40s: What Are The Real Odds?

Me, pregnant in 2007 at age 39.

When I’ve mentioned to people that I am pregnant again, I have often suggested that my pregnancy is a highly unlikely occurrence – a statistical anomaly. However, some commenters here at Babble’s Being Pregnant blog have taken issue with that assessment, saying that I am overstating the unlikelihood of my current knocked up condition.

I was reading Heather Turgeon’s interesting piece on the odds of pregnancy over 35 this morning, and she makes the good point that while women’s fertility does decline after 35, there are big variations from woman to woman. Fair enough. But I’ve also read information making it sound like the odds of conceiving naturally in one’s 40s are as low as 1-3 percent per cycle. Many fertility clinics won’t even work with a woman over 42 or 43 years old unless she agrees to use donor eggs.

So here’s my question for discussion today – a chance for you numbers and statistics enthusiasts to get your geek on: I am 43 years old, and I became pregnant only 5 months after last giving birth. I was not breastfeeding, but we were carefully and very consistently using a method of birth control with an effectiveness rate of around 90 percent when used properly. Additionally, given the fact that we have been very busy and have a new baby in the house, the – ahem – opportunities during which I could have conceived in the previous few months were….how to put this delicately? Limited in number.  Last, I have a history of early miscarriage – before 9 or 10 weeks.

Okay, so those are the facts. Now let’s play actuary. How unlikely is this pregnancy, now 9 weeks along? I’m curious to hear what you think, because to me, I feel like the odds of this having happened are astronomically low. But then again, I’m notoriously bad with numbers, I am prone to hyperbole, and I am also the one dealing with the actual shock of the whole thing. So perhaps I am not the most reliable assessor of the situation. But I’d love to hear what you think 😉

Article Posted 7 years Ago

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