Getting Pregnant After Menopause Hits—How Likely Is It To Happen?

Getting pregnant after menopause arrives could happen under special circumstances, according to experts.

Menopause is still a pretty confusing milestone—especially for those who experience it. For the most part, it's common knowledge that, once a person stops having periods, the option of having children is no longer available.

Or at least that's what was believed. An April 2020 report from the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research followed the case of a 54-year-old woman who gave birth to a baby girl at 34 weeks—seven years after what she understood to be the onset of menopause.

With a case like that, you might be left wondering if pregnancy is actually possible after menopause has started. Health asked ob-gyns about any misconceptions that may be had around if and how someone can give birth after hitting menopause—and what to know about giving birth past childbearing age.

Can You Get Pregnant After Menopause Occurs?

In short, no. Menopause itself is a single point in time 12 months after an individual has their last period, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). When you're no longer getting your period, your body is officially done with its reproductive years, and you cannot get pregnant naturally after you reach menopause.

Pregnancy during perimenopause could happen, but the chances are slim to none.

According to the Office on Women's Health, perimenopause is the length of time before your last-ever period. However, during this time, irregular periods, along with other perimenopausal symptoms, are around for quite a while until menopause officially hits. "You ovulate infrequently, but you still ovulate," said Julian Peskin, MD, an ob-gyn at Cleveland Clinic. This is important to know since ovulation is responsible for releasing an egg that could be fertilized by sperm—resulting in pregnancy.

So, if you are experiencing any perimenopausal symptoms, it may be worth continuing the use of birth control or other contraceptive methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until you find out that you're officially in menopause.

What if You Want To Get Pregnant After You've Hit Menopause?

If you've already hit menopause, you could get pregnant through a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). According to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), IVF is essentially the joining of a woman's egg with a man's sperm, outside of the person's body (in a laboratory dish). In people who are of childbearing age, there are five steps to IVF: stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination and fertilization, embryo culture, and embryo transfer.

However, since you are going through menopause, you are not producing eggs; therefore, you would not need to go through the first two steps. Instead, you would have to use eggs from a donor—a fertile woman who donates an egg to an infertile individual for the IVF process.

From there, it's like any other IVF pregnancy: Once a fertilized egg divides and becomes an embryo outside of the body, per the NLM, it's placed inside your womb, where you can carry the embryo—then fetus—to term.

What Are the Risks Associated With Being Pregnant via IVF During Menopause?

Of course, as with all pregnancies, getting pregnant via IVF comes with risks. But, if you're otherwise healthy, an IVF-induced pregnancy during menopause won't necessarily bring any new risks to the table.

The risks are the typical ones associated with pregnancy, Margaret Nachtigall, MD, an ob-gyn at NYU Langone, explained—such as preeclampsia, infections, and preterm labor (labor that begins prior to the 37th week of pregnancy). And some people who try IVF after menopause has come don't have to worry about certain age-related pregnancy complications since the egg belonged to a younger individual.

The bottom line: If you're experiencing perimenopause, you have a very low chance of getting pregnant, but if you're in menopause, pregnancy isn't a possibility unless you have medical-based assistance.

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles