Women are hitting the ground running with hopes, dreams and personal expectations both in life and work, that keep the idea of starting a family a bay. Sometimes women choose to freeze eggs when they are healthy and abundant in hopes of starting a family later in life, but as the years of menopause approach, does the uterus age to the point that conception and healthy pregnancy is impossible? The uterus, unlike the ovaries, does not age and successful pregnancy can be achieved, in some cases, well into the 60s.
Reproduction and Age
Women are born with a set number of eggs, unlike men who produce sperm by the millions throughout life. When the number of available eggs starts to diminish, perimenopause starts. For some women, perimenopause starts in the late 30s, but other women don’t notice the subtle changes until they are already in their 40s or early 50s. The most common symptom of perimenopause is irregular menstrual cycles. Some women experience shorter periods and others experience longer times between periods, but in the end all women stop having periods all together and that is when perimenopause changes to menopause.
During the late perimenopause period, only the older eggs are left, which may increase the risk of birth defects or make it more difficult to conceive. But, this change has nothing to do with the uterus. The uterus does not physically change during menopause, though changes do occur inside the uterus as a result of lower levels of reproductive hormones like estrogen. Essentially, the uterus can hold and sustain life indefinitely no matter how old mom is at conception.
How to Achieve Pregnancy After Menopause
Even though the uterus does not age, it is impossible to conceive naturally after menopause. In-vitro fertilization clinics can help women conceive even after menopause is complete. Each clinic will have different in-house rules – often set by personal comfortability – about later in life conception, but many clinics are willing to help women up to 60 years of age.