Rachel Weisz announced on April 20 that she’s pregnant with baby #2! But at 48, many fans have wondered HOW! Speaking with a fertility expert, we learned what she & stars like Janet Jackson had to do to conceive after 40!
While many were surprised to find out that Rachel Weisz is pregnant at age 48, it’s actually not unheard of for women — especially celebs — to get pregnant in their 40s. Don’t forget that Janet Jackson, now 51, gave birth at age 50! Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani, and Mariah Carey are amongst even more stars who conceived later in life. But although it’s not impossible for a 40-something woman to have a bun in the oven, it’s definitely not EASY! In fact, speaking with Zaher Merhi, MD, FACOG, HCLD, and Director of IVF Research and Development at New Hope Fertility Center, HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY learned that Rachel “probably” used a donor egg to get pregnant.
“The reality is that pregnancy rates at [age 48] are rare. So she’s either very lucky or probably used a donor egg,” Dr. Merhi, who is not Rachel’s doctor, shared with us about the actress’ pregnancy. “I can estimate that roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of women that age become pregnant with fertility assistance… and around 20 percent, per month, without fertility assistance.” So now that we know the rough odds, what exactly does it take to get pregnant past your prime?
“Well, the obvious answer is have sex,” Dr. Merhi told us. “The reality is that if you have sex at the right time during your ovulation period, you increase your chances.” However, as the fertility expert admitted, it is harder for an older women to get pregnant naturally, which is where other options come in. “Above the age of 44, while it is possible to become pregnant naturally, most women will find success with an egg donor,” Dr. Merhi said. “We have also seen benefits from yoga, acupuncture, losing weight, eating healthy, and supplements. These all MIGHT help.”
Donor eggs are eggs that are donated from another women. Said donor undergoes egg retrieval and then egg freezing, which then allows the egg to be transferred into another female’s uterus and watch for ongoing pregnancy. Couples even “get to choose ethnicity, educational background, see what the donor looked like as a baby and what the parents looked like, as well as eye color, height, and a bunch of other factors,” Dr. Merhi explained. “Typically this is done anonymously, meaning that the birth parents won’t know who the donor is, beyond photos and data. They purchase the egg(s) and then we would artificially inseminate the egg with the partner sperm.”
IVF is also commonly used by women who wish to get pregnant. In fact, stars like Mariah and Nicole Kidman used IVF to conceive in their 40s, which they’ve been very open about. When asked if it’s best to start this treatment right away, Dr. Merhi said yes. “See a fertility specialist that has experience (and success) with women in your age group.”
Another fertility expert, Zev Williams, MD, PhD/Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, advises women who may want children later to life to freeze their eggs when they’re young. “Because the ability of an egg to result in a healthy pregnancy declines so rapidly after age 40, the best thing to do is to prepare in advance,” Dr. Williams told us EXCLUSIVELY. “That means you’re freezing eggs or embryos when you are younger. That way, whenever you go to conceive, your chances will be essentially the same as what they would have been when you were the age where you froze your eggs or embryos.”
And while Dr. Merhi estimates that chances of conceiving without assistance after 40 is 20 percent, Dr. Williams believes the percentage is a whole lot lower. “For a healthy couple in their 20s, the chances of getting pregnant in a given month is around 25 percent. But that number falls quickly, particularly after age 38. The chances for a woman to conceive naturally after age 45 is under 0.5 percent.”
But don’t let those numbers scare you! Overall, pregnancy into your 40s is very much possible! “Recently a lot more women in their 40s are trying to conceive,” Dr. Merhi said. “It’s exciting because better technology helps them be more successful. My advice is be as aggressive as possible. Women are on a biological clock, and every month counts.”