And other fertility treatments for advanced maternal age
For many women, the decision to start a family comes later in life. But as age increases, so does the difficulty of getting pregnant naturally. While getting pregnant in your 40s is more difficult than in your 20s or 30s, it’s important to know that there are fertility treatment options available that can help increase the chances of success. This blog explores some of the most common options for women after 40, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), and what to expect from treatment.
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Understanding the biological clock
Before we dive into specific treatments and actions to improve the odds of getting pregnant after 40, it’s important we set the stage properly. That means understanding the impact of maternal age on fertility, often referred to as the biological clock. As a woman ages, the number and quality of her eggs decline, which can make it more challenging to conceive.
This decline becomes steeper after the age of 35 and accelerates after 40. As long as a woman is ovulating and menstruating, there is still a chance for her to conceive with her own eggs.
Related reading: Fertility Testing
Fertility treatments like IVF after 40
As discussed earlier, for women in their 40s, the chances of getting pregnant naturally decline significantly. This is why many older women turn to fertility treatments to help them achieve their dream of having a child.
Some common assisted reproductive treatments women in their 40s should know about follow.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
IVF is the most common fertility treatment for women over 40. It involves stimulating the ovaries with fertility drugs to produce multiple eggs, which are then retrieved and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The resulting embryo(s) are then transferred to the woman’s uterus.
One significant concern for women with IVF after 40 is the risk of a multiple pregnancy, which is twins or more. Multiple pregnancies are associated with higher rates of complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight. To minimize the risk of a multiple pregnancy, doctors may recommend elective single embryo transfer (eSET) in women over 40.
Egg freezing involves undergoing a similar process to IVF, but instead of transferring the embryos to the uterus, the eggs are frozen for later use. Most women freeze their eggs in their 20s or early 30s so they can use them with IVF in their 30s, 40s or beyond.
Women over the age of 40 have a reduced ovarian reserve and are at an increased risk of genetic abnormalities. Donor eggs provide an opportunity to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Donors are carefully screened to ensure healthy eggs. Donor eggs, which can come from either a known or anonymous source, are screened for any genetic disorders. The resulting embryo(s) are then transferred to the intended mother’s uterus via IVF procedures.
Success rates of IVF after 40
While the success rates of fertility treatment and IVF decline as women age, many women in their 40s are still able to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the success rates for IVF in women aged 41-42 are around 12.7% per cycle using the patient’s own eggs and 22.7% using donor eggs. However, success rates can vary depending on a variety of factors, including a woman’s overall health, fertility history and the specific treatment approach used. Moreover, advanced techniques such as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) and donor eggs or embryos can further increase the chances of success.
Don’t lose hope about getting pregnant in your 40s
Age is not an insurmountable barrier to starting or growing your family. Getting pregnant at an advanced maternal age can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible with the right treatment and mindset. Whether you choose IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy or other options, the key to success is working with a qualified fertility specialist who has experience in treating women in their 40s and expertise in tackling more challenging cases.
If you’re struggling to conceive naturally in your 40s, there’s no time like the present to explore your options. This can be a difficult decision, but it can also open up new possibilities for starting or growing your family.