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How can a woman over 40 have a baby?

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Quick Answer

Some women over the age of 40 can become pregnant naturally, according to WebMD. However, since fertility decreases beginning in the mid-30s, many women over 40 might need fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization and oocyte donation, according to the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health.

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Full Answer

Normally, couples do not seek fertility treatments until they fail to become pregnant within one year of unprotected sex. However, the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health advises women over the age of 35 to consider undergoing fertility testing sooner.

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, may be an effective fertility treatment for women under the age of 45, advises the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health. In an IVF procedure, developed eggs are collected from the woman and fertilized with sperm in the laboratory, as explained by the American Pregnancy Association. The embryo is then transferred to the woman's uterus, and the success rate for this procedure in women over the age of 40 is 13 to 18 percent, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Women over the age of 45 have a low chance of getting pregnant using their own eggs, or oocytes. Egg donation is another option for these women to help them experience pregnancy, according to the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health.

In this process, an egg donated by a younger woman is fertilized using IVF and implanted into the woman's uterus, as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine explains. Although the embryo does not have the same DNA as the mother, she still has the opportunity to experience the pregnancy and is the mother listed on the birth certificate.

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