Age-related infertility caused by advanced maternal age is becoming more common.
It’s well documented that fertility for a woman peaks in her 20s and then starts a steep decline beginning in her mid-30s. For women in the modern age, putting off starting a family until she is well in her 30s is common. Women are delaying starting a family to focus on their education, their career and finding the perfect partner. However, delaying pregnancy for too long can result in problems getting pregnant.
Age-related infertility issues occur for a number of reasons. One reason has to do with ovulation. As she ages, a woman will begin to experience shorter and more infrequent periods – a sign that she is not ovulating on a regular basis. And without ovulation, a woman has no chance of getting pregnant each month. Eventually, a woman’s periods will stop altogether and she is said to be in menopause.
Women who are experiencing menopause cannot get pregnant. In reality, however, women might stop being fertile 5 to 10 years before they even begin menopause. With the average woman experiencing menopause at the age of 51, it’s a good bet that most women might be unable to successfully get pregnant sometime in their mid to late-40s.
While normal ovulation becomes a problem for women as they age, the quality of their eggs also starts to decline. Older women’s eggs are more likely to suffer from aneuploidy. This means that the eggs in a woman’s ovaries are likely to have too many or too few chromosomes. Aneuploidy might result in conditions such as Down syndrome – or even cause a woman to miscarry.
Women of advanced maternal age have decreased reproductive potential.
Although women today are generally taking better care of themselves, healthy habits cannot stop a woman’s natural decline in fertility because female fertility naturally decreases with age. As a woman ages, the quality and quantity of her eggs decline.
- Women in their 20s have a 20-25% chance for pregnancy each month.
- Women in their 30s have a 15-20% chance for pregnancy each month.
- Women in their 40s have a less than 5% chance for pregnancy each month.
- Women between 45 and 49 have a 1% chance for pregnancy each month.
If you are 35 years of age or older, our fertility specialists recommend visiting one of our South Louisiana fertility centers if you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for six months.
There are several treatment options available for women of advanced maternal age.
Depending on your unique situation, the fertility specialists at our South Louisiana fertility centers may recommend one or more of the following fertility treatment options to treat age-related infertility.
- Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, may involve taking fertility medication to stimulate egg production. When you are ready to ovulate, your physician will transfer your partner’s sperm directly into your uterus. This treatment is used less often in women over 40, as the success rate is less than 5% per cycle. There is about a 10% success rate in women between the ages of 35 and 40.
- In vitro fertilization, or IVF, also involves taking fertility medication. However, instead of allowing fertilization to occur inside of your uterus, your physician will remove your eggs and fertilize them with your partner’s sperm in the IVF laboratory. IVF has a 10% success rate per cycle in women over 40.
- Donor egg IVF is often recommended for women who are over 42 and have not found success with other fertility treatments. With donor egg IVF, a healthy woman in her 20s or 30s will donate her eggs. Her eggs will be fertilized in the IVF laboratory with your partner’s sperm and you will then carry the pregnancy. For women in their mid-40s, donor egg IVF is often the only effective fertility treatment.
The most important message for patients of advanced maternal age to hear is that pregnancy is often possible with the right combination of fertility treatments.
If you have questions about fertility treatment options for advanced maternal age, contact Fertility Answers today for an appointment.