Conception and Pregnancy after 40
Nowadays, an increasing number of women consider conception after the age of 40. The incidents of women over 45 year old becoming mothers through assisted conception keep growing.
According to ESHRE, the percentage of women turning to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) for making a baby has increased significantly. Over the last 15 years, it is estimated that the number of IVF cycles performed for women 40-45 year old has increased about ten times. This information indicates a drift of more and more women to making a family later in life.
Many women tend to think that as long as they have a period they are perfectly capable of getting pregnant, and this is partly true but not quite. It is correct that every woman, prior menopause, who has a period and ovulates, is possible to achieve pregnancy, even during climacterium; her chances though are quite small.
As women grow older their fertility tends to faint, they tend to have fewer eggs and of poor quality making natural conception less possible, especially after age 42. On the other hand, male fertility is not as age sensitive as the female fertility. A growing body of research reports that men of older age do produce more abnormal sperm and it takes longer for their partners to conceive but the fact is they keep producing sperm their whole lives.
Since a growing number of women now choose to delay pregnancy well into their 40s, let’s summarize a few things that women of advanced reproductive age seeking for an infertility treatment need to take under consideration prior treatment.
Subfertility diagnose: There are a number of fertility treatment options and different IVF protocols developed for serving different needs. Quite often though, couples of advanced age, knowing time is running for them, choose IVF straightway without considering any other treatment options, as it is known for its high success rates. Even though advanced age can be a cause of subfertility there might be other things causing infertility as well, like male factor, endometriosis and more. So finding out the exact cause of infertility is crucial for couples and their physician to decide which treatment benefits them most.
IVF success rates and Egg donation: success rates for women over 40 are dramatically decreased. A recent study reported that women age 40-41 had 15.6% chances of pregnancy following IVF, while for those aged 44 these rates dropped to 1.3%. Egg donation is an effective way for successful IVF for women with poor egg quality. It is a great option for women over 40 who want to boost their pregnancy chances, since success rates with egg donation are high.
Risk of chromosome abnormalities: Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome. Therefore it is critical for women to go through genetic screening tests that will assure the baby’s health.
Risk of miscarriage/pregnancy complications: older women have greater risk for experiencing a miscarriage within the first 3 months due to chromosomal abnormalities or other pregnancy complications later on. That is something that poses some substantial concern for women but being aware of it is necessary in order to be alert and prepared for any outcome.