Updated: November 7, 2017
It is still possible to get pregnant during perimenopause. But once you didn't get a period for a year and have reached menopause, it is no longer possible to naturally become pregnant.
You can get pregnant after menopause with hormone therapies and in vitro fertilization. The risk for pregnancy complications increases in women after the age of 35.
If you are having hot flashes and irregular periods, probably you are less fertile than you once were before. Until you have gone a whole year without a period, you havenÃ¢â¬â¢t officially reached menopause. Once you are postmenopausal, your ovaries wonÃ¢â¬â¢t release any more eggs because of hormonal changes and you can no longer get pregnant naturally.
Estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are produced in your body during your reproductive years. In the middle of your monthly cycle, LH, FSH, and estrogen work together, prompting your ovaries to release a mature egg during ovulation.
Unless your hormone levels are within the optimal range, ovulation canÃ¢â¬â¢t occur. If the egg is fertilized, LH stimulates progesterone production to maintain the pregnancy.
Perimenopause is a time of transition period in which your ovaries are starting to produce less estrogen and progesterone. LH and FSH levels are starting to rise as your ovaries are becoming less responsive to them.
As your hormone levels start fluctuating, you may start noticing symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Your periods will be irregular in length and frequency and your ovaries may not release egg every month. In this phase although your fertility is declining, you can still conceive. But if you donÃ¢â¬â¢t want to get pregnant, you need to use birth control throughout perimenopause. This phase can last for several years.
This is the stage when you will have your final menstrual period. When you notice your periods have stopped for 1 year then only you become sure of this stage. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are common in this stage.
Once you have reached menopause, your LH and FSH levels remain high and your estrogen and progesterone levels remain low. You no longer ovulate and you cannot conceive a child naturally.
Once you are postmenopausal, your hormone levels will never again be in the optimal range for ovulation and pregnancy. Birth control is no longer required.
IVF is a method using which a women can get pregnant after menopause. You can use eggs you had frozen earlier in life, or you can use fresh or frozen donor eggs. You will also need hormone therapy to prepare your body for implantation and to carry a baby to term.
Postmenopausal women are more likely to experience complications of pregnancy after IVF, compared with premenopausal women.
After age 35, the risks of certain problems in pregnancy rises in comparison to younger women. These include:
The older you are, it is more likely that you have a preexisting health condition that could complicate pregnancy and delivery.