7 Things You Need to Know About Getting Pregnant After 35

What Your Real Odds Are, Whether Healthy Habits Matter, and When to Get Help

Woman adjusting back of red heart shaped clock, metaphor for biological fertility clock
Getting pregnant after 35 is not impossible, but, if you do have trouble, it's important to get help quickly.. Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Whether you’re trying to conceive after 35, or not yet there but thinking about the future, here are 7 things you need to know about getting pregnant after 35.

#1: Getting Pregnant After 35 Is Not impossible.

You may be thinking, “Obviously!” But I mention this because whenever the topic of conceiving after 35 comes up, there’s always someone who says, “But I know so many people who had their kids after 35.

So it can’t be that difficult!”

However, no expert claims it’s impossible. It’s just more likely you may have trouble conceiving.  

One large study looked at pregnancy rates for women if they have sexual intercourse on their most fertile day. Here’s what they found:

Women ages 19 to 26 years old had a slightly more than 50% chance of conceiving on their most fertile day.

Women ages 27 to 34 years old had a slightly less than 40% chance of conceiving.

Women age 35 to 39 had a slightly less than 30% chance of getting pregnant.  

It’s important to point out that miscarriage rates were not researched in this particular study, but we know from other research that the rate of miscarriage increases with age, as well as the rate of certain birth defects. So those rates aren’t live birth rates – those would be lower.

What about your odds of conception over many cycles?  

Another study looked at how long it took to conceive over many cycles at various ages, taking into consideration only live births.

So miscarriage rates are included here.

About 75% of women who start trying to conceive at age 30 conceive within one year. After four years of trying, pregnancy success rates are 91%.

About 66% of women conceive within a year who start trying at age 35. After four years, 84% eventually get pregnant and have a baby.

Only 44% of women age 40 conceive within a year of trying and go on to give birth. After four years of additional trying, 64% eventually conceive and give birth.

#2. Your Partner’s Age Matters More if You’re Older Than 35

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: if your partner is five years older than you, and you’re over 35, your odds for conception are lower.

In that same study cited above, the one that looked at conception rates on a woman’s most fertile days, women ages 35 to 39 with similarly aged partners had a conception rate of 29%.

But, if their male partner was five years older, their success rate dropped to 18%.

Again, these rates don’t take into consideration miscarriage rates, and miscarriage and birth defect rates do increase with male and female age.

Male age does matter.

#3: If You Don’t Get Pregnant Within Six Months, Talk to Your Doctor.

Because age matters, it’s really important you don’t delay seeking help if you can’t conceive after six months.

It may seem strange to get help quickly whenever you know that your age naturally lowers your monthly fertility odds. There are women who may not conceive on their own in six months, but then will conceive naturally after a year, or even two years.

Even so, it’s better to get fertility testing done after just six months of trying if you’re 35 or older.

If there is a fertility problem found, you will be more likely to have success in treating it sooner than later.

If there are no obvious fertility problems, your doctor may suggest you continue trying to conceive naturally for another few months, and come back if you still don’t succeed. 

#4: Fertility Treatment Is No Cure for Age-Related Infertility.

Speaking of fertility treatments, don’t delay seeking help thinking that fertility treatments will make up for the lost time.

Unfortunately, fertility treatments are less successful with age.

One study looked at conception rates for women who starting trying to conceive at age 30, 35, and 40, and then whether fertility treatments could make up for the pregnancies lost from delaying childbearing.

They found that fertility treatments could only make up for half of the successful pregnancies lost when delaying conception until age 35 instead of starting at age 30, and only make up for 30% of the healthy pregnancies lost when women delayed starting at age 40 instead of at age 35. 

#5. Healthy Living Can Help Boost Your Odds of Conception.

Though tempting, don’t assume your age is the only reason you’re not conceiving quickly.

When you’re over 35, you already have your age possibly working against you. It just makes good sense to be sure the factors you can control are working for you.  

Eating healthier, dropping fertility-busting habits, and maintaining a healthy weight may not only help you conceive faster than someone who doesn’t live a healthy lifestyle, but can also boost your odds for fertility treatment success, if you do need treatments.

Don’t forget about mind-body therapies as well. While research hasn’t yet found a strong link between mind-body therapies like yoga and fertility, there’s a possibility these stress-reducing activities may help.

This applies to men and women, by the way. It takes two to make a baby, and yes, diet and lifestyle habits can impact male and female fertility.

#6: Healthy Living Can’t Stop Age-Related Fertility Decline.

With all that said… living a healthy life won’t stop age-related fertility declines. 

(An important side note: otherwise very healthy young couples can also experience infertility. Age isn’t the only factor when it comes to fertility.)

It’s true that certain unhealthy habits can increase the rate of fertility decline. For example, women who smoke have eggs that age faster.

However, it’s also true that even the men and women who eat great, exercise, and stay away from unhealthy habits still age (of course!), and therefore experience age-related fertility decline like anyone else.

If only we could stop aging all together with more veggies and a daily workout!

#7. Regardless of Fertility Declines, Don’t Have Kids Until You’re Ready.

After all this, I want to be sure you know that readiness to have children should still come before your declining fertility rates.

Yes, for those that wish to have children one day, it’s really important they know about fertility and age. This way, they can make educated decisions about when to start a family, and not feel quite as shocked if they can’t conceive as easily as they imagined at age 40.

However, no one should be pressured to have kids before they feel ready.

Use information about age-related fertility decline to make informed decisions – not to pressure yourself, or others.

More you should know about your fertility:


Dunson DB, Colombo B, Baird DD. “Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle.” Hum Reprod. 2002 May;17(5):1399-403. http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/17/5/1399.full

Leridon H. “Can assisted reproduction technology compensate for the natural decline in fertility with age? A model assessment.” Hum Reprod. 2004 Jul;19(7):1548-53. Epub 2004 Jun 17. http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/7/1548

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