“Am I Too Old For Fertility Treatment?”
This is without a doubt, the most commonly asked question that fertility treatment centers receive. With more women pursuing higher education and careers than ever before, it is not rare for women to put starting a family on hold. When the time is finally right for an individual to start a family, they often have trouble “naturally” conceiving the child due to age. Fortunately, fertility treatments have advanced and are a viable option for conceiving a child.
However, age does play a factor and often leaves women asking the same question: “Am I too old for fertility treatment?”
The answer is, well, there is no definitive answer. It honestly depends on the individual person coming in for fertility treatment. If you are looking for a very general answer,most fertility centers in the United States won’t offer their services to women over the age of 45, and some will go up to the age of 50. However, your health, partner’s age and health, and whether or not you are using your own eggs, all contribute to your ability to get pregnant with fertility treatments.
How Healthy Are You?
Health plays a huge role in fertility. Your body must be at a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) to carry a pregnancy to term, should you get pregnant. If you are overweight or underweight, you are making it that much more difficult for you to get pregnant. Get a full physical to ensure that you do not have any health issues, and that your body could hypothetically support a pregnancy. The physical will be able to rule out any other issues that may be making it difficult for you and your partner to conceive, so that you are absolutely sure that fertility treatment is the next step.
Other health factors include the receptiveness of your uterus. A healthy uterus should be anatomically correct and the endometrial lining should develop normally in response to estrogen. A healthy uterus is needed for an embryo to survive; therefore any abnormalities in the uterus should also be addressed by your doctor prior to fertility treatment.
How Old Is Your Partner?
If your partner is younger than you, then it may be easier for him to fertilize the egg. This, in turn, will improve the success of fertility treatment. Younger men also tend to have healthier sperm, so your partner’s sperm should be tested for its potency. A semen analysis will provide in depth information regarding the health and viability of the sperm. Obviously, this will not be an issue if donor sperm is being used.
The health of your partner is also important. Men should also get a physical when they are ready to conceive or start fertility treatments to ensure that everything is in working in order.
Are You Using Your Eggs, Or a Donor’s Eggs?
Usually it is advised that women under 42 use their own eggs, and women over 43 use a donor’s eggs. While a woman over the age of 43 might be able to get pregnant using her own eggs, the likeliness declines drastically with age. Again, the ages specified above are not set in stone; it depends on all of the other health factors.
The quality of your eggs plays an important role in the success of fertility treatment. The quality of the eggs can help to decipher the quality of the embryo. In IVF the highest “quality” embryos are transferred back into the uterus, so having high quality eggs allows for more embryos to choose from. A high quality egg is largely determined by the chromosomal status of the egg. A fertility specialist must detect chromosomal abnormalities in the egg, which are a leading cause of miscarriages, to decide if the eggs are “quality” enough to be utilized in the fertilization process.
Age Isn’t Everything
While age is a huge factor in fertility treatments and a woman’s ability to conceive, there is no definitive answer about who can get pregnant at what age. With your doctor’s guidance, you can determine what fertility treatments are available to you.