IVF Over 40: Success With Own Eggs
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IVF Over 40: Success With Own Eggs

If you are curious about having an IVF procedure over 40 years and knowing the success rates with your own eggs, then this article is for you. 

In the modern world, there is a growing trend for women to postpone childbirth due to many reasons. This has led to older women desiring to have children and experiencing difficulty in conception. It is common knowledge that aging negatively affects a woman’s ability to conceive and successfully carry a pregnancy to term. In vitro fertilization (IVF) success rate declines with age, but many women in their early and mid-40s can still conceive with the appropriate fertility treatment. As women get into their late 40s, however, the statistics decline further and become grimmer, but there still exists a slim chance.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization is a type of assisted reproductive technology where sperm and an egg are fertilized outside the body. The process is quite complex as it involves retrieving eggs from the ovaries and then manually conjugating them with a donated sperm to achieve fertilization. After fertilization, the fertilized egg, which is now referred to as an embryo, is then implanted into the endometrium of the uterus. 

What is IVF
Picture courtesy: News Medical

What is the Purpose of IVF?

Women choose to undergo IVF for a variety of reasons, and it may be due to issues with a partner, like a disease or infertility. It may also be when there is reduced fertility, and the couple has exhausted most other methods of assisted reproductive technique. It is also a viable option for same-sex couples or people that desire to have children without having a partner. Some of the reasons why people choose IVF include:

  • Blocked, damaged, or non-functional fallopian tubes
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Ovarian issues
  • PCOS
  • Low sperm count and other sperm impairments
  • Fibroids

How common is IVF?

Approximately 5% of couples that have experienced issues with getting pregnant will eventually try IVF. It is one of the most reliable forms of assisted reproductive technologies available.

How does age affect the success rate of IVF?

While there is relatively no clear and defined answer to this very pertinent question, generally speaking, women that are older than 43 are usually not advised to do IVF with their own eggs. Fertility specialists advise them to use donor eggs for IVF. This is due to the fact that, more often than not, their older eggs have a very high probability of being chromosomally abnormal or deficient. These deficiencies are also responsible for miscarriages, fetal death, congenital and developmental changes, diseases, and other problems in growth and development. 

Women over the age of 50 are usually not considered IVF candidates. But with recent modern technological advancements, women of any age with access to viable eggs or even embryos and a receptive uterus is capable of carrying and delivering a baby through IVF. However, older women are usually more at risk when it comes to issues associated with pregnancy. Some of the pregnancy and perinatal complications that they are at risk of include:

  • Higher rate of delivery to Cesarean section
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Low birth weight
  • Preterm delivery
  • Obstetric hemorrhage

What are the general risks of IVF (over 40)?

risks of IVF
Picture courtesy: inviTRA

Some of the risks which can be seen in IVF include the following:

  • Multiple births: IVF increases the chance of having multiple births. This occurs whenever more embryos are transferred into the uterus. This carries a higher risk of early labor and low birth weight than a single fetus pregnancy.
  • Premature birth and low birth weight – IVF slightly increases the risk that a baby will be born early or with low birth weight.
  • Miscarriage – the rate of miscarriage in IVF is usually very high as the maternal age increases. Apart from that, the rate of miscarriage of women who conceive with IVF using a fresh embryo is about the same as that of women who conceive naturally.
  • Ectopic pregnancy – this happens to about 2-5% of women who use IVF. This happens when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. The fertilized egg cannot survive outside the uterus, and the pregnancy is usually terminated.
  • Birth defect – the age of the mother, plays a huge factor in this, no matter the way that the fetus is conceived. It should also be examined if the risk of defect is more in the case of births through IVF.
  • Cancer – there has been some early linkage between some of the drugs administered in the IVF process, which are used in egg growth and stimulation, and the development of a specific type of ovarian cancer.
  • Stress – this stress can be through a variety of ways; it can be financial, physical, or even emotional. The process should not be done alone. There should be support from counselors, family, and friends who can help with all the stress.
  • Complications in egg retrieval – this is experienced when using the aspiration needle, as it can cause bleeding, infection, or damage to organs like the intestine, the bowel, the bladder, or a major blood vessel.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – the use of some injectable fertility drugs like HCG to induce ovulation can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, where the ovaries become swollen and very painful.

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