Menopause is the natural phase of every woman’s life when it becomes practically difficult ( but not impossible ) to get pregnant. During menopause, the ovaries lose the ability to produce eggs, which indicates an end to childbearing.
While ovarian failure is the endpoint of menopause, the process of reaching ovarian failure can go on for a long time. This is why menopause is divided into two stages; perimenopause and postmenopause. Before menopause steps in, a woman must go through perimenopause first, and while perimenopause may look and feel like menopause itself, studies have said otherwise.
Perimenopause is the period just before menopause. Perimenopause can be seen as the doorman to menopause itself. Before menopause, the body goes through a series of preparatory changes known as perimenopausal symptoms. Until periods cease for 12 consecutive months, the woman is not yet in menopause, and yes, pregnancy is still possible.
During perimenopause, it becomes difficult to get pregnant. Today, more women want to have children in their 40s. While the idea of childbirth in the 40s may be a good idea in certain situations, studies have shown that the ability to bear children reduces as you go further into your late 40s. On getting to perimenopause, periods become irregular, menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats begin to step in, and getting pregnant may require many tries.
Due to irregular menstruation patterns and the introduction of menopausal symptoms, many women see the period of perimenopause as equivalent to menopause. Many women believe that since periods have become irregular, childbirth is impossible.
Childbirth during Perimenopause: The Myth, the Facts, and Everything In-between
Your periods aren’t regular anymore; today, you see your periods and don’t see them again for a long time. You think you’re in menopause, but the periods come after a few months. You’re frustrated; you need answers. You see it as normal, but when you go to sleep, you wake up with a painful hot sensation in your chest region. Welcome to perimenopause.
Perimenopause welcomes you into menopause. As the ovaries age, estrogen levels drop, and periods become less frequent. Perimenopause starts in the 40s, but in some women, signs of perimenopause can be experienced as early as in the 30s. Since different women react differently to menopause, the age, as well as the severity of symptoms, may vary. Some common symptoms of perimenopause include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness, brain fog, and mood swings.
Without ovarian failure, pregnancy without donor help is possible. However, what happens when the ovaries decline in function but do not fail?
Fact: Perimenopausal Women Can Get Pregnant Naturally
As you get older, your ovaries shrink. It is a fact that on reaching perimenopause, the size of your ovaries decreases by more than 3cm, reducing their functionality. However, the ovaries do not completely become useless until menopause is reached. This means that even in perimenopause, there’s still a fair chance of getting pregnant. Many women have found partners in their 40s and have conceived.
Many others have had their first birth, even in their early 50s. It is possible to get pregnant during perimenopause. However, it can be not easy in many cases. As long as the periods aren’t gone, pregnancy is still potent. Since the periods haven’t gone through 12 consecutive months of cessation, the ability to give birth cannot be completely ignored.
Myth: Perimenopausal Women Do Not Need Medications to Boost Pregnancy
There is a high chance of getting pregnant naturally during perimenopause, but in many cases, medications are required to boost the chances of getting pregnant. During perimenopause, ovulation is no longer frequent, and when it happens, only unviable eggs of low quality are produced. This is the main reason perimenopausal women find it difficult to get pregnant. While unviable eggs are produced in most cases during perimenopause, viable eggs can, by chance, be released by the ovaries, and if fertilization happens to occur, the body takes advantage of it, and pregnancy can be achieved.
With more women in their 40s and 50s now wanting to bear children, the need for effective options to boost the chance of getting pregnant has increased. Conceiving during menopause is possible, and with the help of medicine, the chances have been even higher.
Increasing the Chances of Pregnancy during Perimenopause
With increasing innovation in medicine and more research being conducted, perimenopausal women have increased their chances of getting pregnant. Some proven and most effective options include:
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is the most common and effective procedure for assisted reproduction. The procedure involved in IVF is simple; mature eggs taken out of the body are fertilized in the lab by a sperm, and after attaining a certain growth, the egg is transferred back into the uterus. Since most eggs produced by perimenopausal women are not viable, a donor egg from another woman is often used.
Other than menopausal infertility, IVF can also be used during cases of anovulation, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, and male factor infertility. Even with the effectiveness of IVF, the risks involved in it have made many women reconsider and follow a different path. While the process involved in IVF may seem easy, straightforward, and safe, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has not ruled out the emergence of serious complications. Although serious complications in IVF are rare, they may be coming up.
Risks of IVF
It is rare to experience serious complications and side effects from the use of IVF. However, it still involves several procedures capable of causing some risk. Some common risks with the use of IVF include:
While giving birth to two or more babies at once may not look like a big deal, multiple births during IVF could lead to premature delivery, labor complications, and in some cases, problems in the development of the fetus.
Side Effects of Drugs
Since most eggs produced by menopausal women aren’t viable, donor eggs are used most of the time. However, there’s still a chance of retrieving a valuable egg even during perimenopause. Medications can be used to stimulate the production of eggs for retrieval, most of which cause side effects like mood swings, headaches, gastrointestinal upset, and allergic reactions.
Ovarian rejuvenation involves the injection of platelet-rich plasma into the ovaries to increase the potency of the eggs or restore fertility. In several studies conducted on the use of ovarian rejuvenation in menopausal women, it was observed that many perimenopausal women responded quite well to ovarian rejuvenation, even to the point where IVF without a donor egg becomes possible.
Studies on ovarian rejuvenation are still quite limited, and the risks involved haven’t been comprehensively uncovered. Also, it has been observed that pregnancies made possible by ovarian rejuvenation have more risk of development-related problems.
The use of melatonin is referred to as the natural way of restoring or maintaining fertility during perimenopause. Melatonin is a sleep hormone produced that reduces as you age. It is produced in the pineal gland and is believed to play a crucial role in stimulating the production of reproductive hormones. Studies have shown that many perimenopausal women who took melatonin to help with fertility have experienced reduced menstruation.
No matter what happens, menopause cannot be avoided. However, melatonin supplementation may help to slightly increase the time difference between perimenopause and postmenopause. Besides its effect on the restoration of fertility, melatonin supplementation can help reduce the vulnerability of menopausal women to conditions like breast cancer and sleep disruption.
When used for short-term use, melatonin is considered safe. However, long-term use of melatonin may cause symptoms like nausea, drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness. Because different women react differently to menopause, melatonin might show zero effects in some women, and in other women may have a level of effectiveness.
Lifestyle and Diet Options
Eating a well-balanced diet and engaging in active physical exercises can help develop and maintain good health, which may, in turn, increase the chance of conception even during perimenopause. Perimenopausal women are advised to stay off alcohol and tobacco products to increase the chances of conception.
Staying healthy during perimenopause is a major contributing factor to conception. Studies have shown that there is no better way to live a healthy lifestyle than consuming healthy diets like fruits and veggies and engaging in aerobic exercises like jogging and cycling.
Postmenopause happens after 12 consecutive months of nonexistent periods. Unlike perimenopausal women, postmenopausal women do not have to worry about menstruation because, at this stage, the ovaries are dysfunctional and, therefore, unable to perform their primary function; the production of eggs.
Menstruation stops permanently during postmenopause, and symptoms like osteoporosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and vulnerability to cardiovascular diseases. The symptoms experienced by postmenopausal are either caused by declining estrogen levels or by normal aging complications.
Generally, aging comes with its complications. With declining hormone levels, menopausal women are more at risk of many problems. Due to the increased risk of developing many diseases, menopausal women are advised to take regular visits to the hospital or have regular conversations with qualified medical practitioners.
Childbirth during Postmenopause: The myths, the Facts, and Everything In-between
Today’s medicine has become so advanced that studies have shown no reason for any woman not to get pregnant. During perimenopause, the ovaries decline but are still functional. However, postmenopause is an entirely new phase. During postmenopause, there is no such thing as menstruation because the ovaries are retired from many years of tormenting us through menstruation and its complications.
There can be no pregnancy without eggs, and as you know, postmenopausal women DO NOT have eggs. However, they still have a uterus and other things in the body necessary for childbirth. To help with this “egg problem,” science has, again, come to the rescue.
Fact: You Can Get Pregnant during Postmenopause, But You Shouldn’t.
In women of all ages, pregnancy comes with risks. However, women trying to get pregnant in their 50s or 60s can experience more dangers. Regardless of age, ovarian failure, or even surgically induced menopause, it is possible to get pregnant; that’s what the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) said. Since the uterus is still functional, a donor egg can be fertilized and implanted into it. However, there have been many risks involved with procedures like these. Generally, postmenopausal women shouldn’t get pregnant. Because science said you can, it doesn’t mean you have to.
It is possible to get pregnant during menopause. To achieve this, the postmenopausal woman is injected with certain hormones to deceive the uterus that it can still carry a child. After this, a donor egg is fertilized in the lab and then transferred into the uterus of the postmenopausal woman. With this, she is pregnant! As short and straightforward as this procedure may sound, postmenopausal women, are often not advised to engage in IVF.
As you go further in age, your risks of getting more complications from pregnancy increase. Studies have shown that a woman in her twenties is most likely to experience fewer complications than a pregnant woman in her 30s and 40s. Since the average postmenopausal age is 52, postmenopausal women who wish to carry a child in their womb have to be ready for complications that, in many cases, can be severe.
Getting pregnant in your mid-ages means getting ready for complications like high blood pressure, cesarean section, and diabetes. Pregnancy during menopause can also be dangerous to your unborn baby. From miscarriage to premature birth and chromosomal abnormalities in your baby, menopausal pregnancy can come with severe risks.
In a nutshell, the body of menopausal women has retired from bearing children, and reviving this priceless ability could lead to more dangers. Even with the risks involved in IVF during postmenopause, science has again come to the rescue by producing medications that can help reduce complications during pregnancy.
Myth: Menopause Can Be Reversed
Menopause is not a disease; it is a natural phase every woman must undergo. It is important to know that menopause cannot be reversed. Menopause signifies your body’s end to reproduction, and while pregnancy can still be achieved with intense medical procedures, the phrase itself cannot be terminated. On getting to menopause, you remain there forever.
Studies have shown that most women have no problem with ovarian failure during menopause. Most women see menopause as a breath of fresh air from the stress of the reproductive years. The idea of zero periods and terminated use of sanitary pads are pros involving menopause. However, the cons come in the form of symptoms, and these symptoms can be severe in many cases.
Menopausal Symptoms and their Effects on Conception
Due to the symptoms associated with menopause, many women today now see the period of menopause as a disease. Many women go through a smooth transition into menopause without experiencing any severe complications. For these women, menopause is a breath of fresh air and an escape plan from the stress of the reproductive years. For other women, menopause is excruciating and comes with more stress than the period of reproduction. Since women react differently to menopause, the symptoms may be negligible and amplified for others.
A hormonal fluctuation caused by ovarian failure is the main reason for most menopausal symptoms. Menopausal symptoms can affect physical, mental, sexual, and emotional health. Some common menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, osteoporosis, anxiety, vaginal dryness, memory loss, cardiovascular diseases, bloating, weight gain, sleep disturbances, loss of air, low libido, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, and vaginal itching.
These symptoms are predominantly caused by a decline in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. All menopausal symptoms do not happen at once; in most cases, only a few symptoms are experienced. However, more symptoms signify more health risks which can affect the likelihood of getting pregnant during perimenopause. For example, vaginal dryness and low libido could mess up your sex life, and intercourse could be painful and extremely dissatisfying. When menopausal symptoms aren’t handled effectively, the likelihood of conception could be very low.
FAQs on Menopausal Conception
Do I Need Contraceptives during Perimenopause?
Yes, it would help if you had contraceptives during perimenopause. While the chances of getting pregnant decrease during menopause, you can still get pregnant from normal intercourse. The ovaries aren’t completely depleted, and the uterus is still fine. With this, perimenopausal women who do not want children should take contraceptives.
There have been numerous cases of perimenopausal conception worldwide. Until you have experienced a full year without menstruation, you are still in perimenopause, and there’s still a chance of getting pregnant. For postmenopausal women, the chance of getting pregnant from normal intercourse is zero percent. During postmenopause, the ovaries are completely depleted in function, and it becomes impossible to get pregnant without complex medical procedures.
How Do I Know I Am In Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is characterized by irregular periods and several symptoms. It could be a sign of perimenopause if you experience irregular periods during your 40s or 50s. It is advisable to see a doctor. Perimenopause can go on to last for several years. Until a year without periods, you are not yet in postmenopause and are still considered to be in your reproductive years.
Can Menopause be Reversed Temporarily to Get Pregnant?
Getting pregnant during menopause doesn’t mean you are no longer in menopause. Menopause, whether artificial or natural, cannot be reversed.
How Much Does Menopausal Conception Cost?
Menopausal conception can be pricey. Because it is still referred to as an experimental procedure, pregnancy during menopause can cost as much as $10,000 to $30,000. Procedures to facilitate pregnancy during menopause are available in clinics all over the US and can be easily assessed.
Why Shouldn’t I Get Pregnant during Menopause?
Pregnancy is a personal decision. If you want to conceive, then go for it. However, menopausal women who wish to get pregnant should as themselves these questions: “do I have the time to take care of children?”, “am I healthy enough to carry a child?”, “am I aware of the risks involved in late pregnancy?”
Usually, a doctor will communicate the risks involved before approving procedures for conception during menopause. However, menopausal women are not advised to get pregnant. Other than the risks it poses to you, I could also pose serious risks to the unborn child.
Chromosomal abnormalities are the major threats to the unborn child during late pregnancy. Studies have shown that 1 in 34 babies from late pregnancies end up with chromosomal abnormalities; a sharp contrast to pregnancy in the 30s with a 1 in 940. Also, the problem of cesarean delivery comes up. Most cases of menopausal conception involve cesarean delivery.
Are There Testimonies involving Menopausal Conception?
Even with the risks involved in menopausal pregnancies, many people worldwide have reported results. In a study conducted by PubMed on the use of IVF during menopause, it was observed that three in five women conceived live and healthy babies. However, many menopausal women have had failed pregnancies; in rare cases, some have died. Since everybody’s body is different, the success rate of IVF during menopause can vary. To get comprehensive details on this, speaking to a professional is advised.
What Are The Alternatives?
If you want to bear kids during menopause but are concerned with the risks involved, there are alternatives you can take that are equally satisfying. Some alternatives include:
If you aren’t ready to become a mother but are sure you will someday, egg freezing may be the best choice. Since life is full of uncertainty, many women have adopted egg freezing for effective childbirth planning. You can freeze your eggs while still in your reproductive years and use them in menopause.
Eggs can be stored for decades, and this way, you are preserving your fertility for another time. Whenever you feel like you are ready to be a mother or ready to have another child, then all you have to do is request your frozen egg from the clinic, and through IVF, you can get pregnant again. In most cases, menopausal women adopt surrogacy since their bodies might not be strong enough to deal with the complications involved in pregnancy.
The world has become so advanced that you can still carry your child without adoption or even having eggs. In simple terms, surrogacy involves another woman helping you carry your child. With the help of your frozen eggs or donor eggs, IVF can be performed on another woman to help you carry your child. After giving birth, the child is handed to you as its sole guardian. Surrogacy has been used for a long time, and many families have been made with it.
Adopting a Child
In the United States, adoption has become very popular and easier. Adoption comes with many advantages, and for menopausal women who do not fancy the stress and tasking medical procedures involved in IVF, adoption may be the solution you need. By adopting, you are providing a stable and loving home for children in dire need of it.
Menopause cannot be reversed, but the concept of pregnancy cannot be completely neglected. With the help of science and determination, the possibility of pregnancy during menopause can be achieved.
Menopause is not a one-size-fits-all scheme; the body’s reception to menopause varies from one menopausal woman to another. For this reason, menopausal women are advised to depend on doctors and not on the testimonies of other menopausal women.