Wanting to start a family comes with a lot of considerations. Trends show that women are delaying getting pregnant for a variety of reasons. But your chances of getting pregnant diminish with passing age.
Getting pregnant after 40 is challenging. However, thanks to a host of fertility treatments and technological advances, there is light at the end of a seemingly dark tunnel. Procedures like IVF can help women above 40 achieve their dream of giving birth. But how effective is IVF after 40? Let’s dive in to know more.
Why IVF After 40?
IVF or in-vitro fertilization is a procedure in which mature eggs are collected from a female partner and fertilized with sperm under laboratory conditions. It is the most effective assisted reproductive technology and has evolved vastly from the time it was first used to give birth to a healthy child way back in 1978.
After 40 years of age, most women find it difficult to conceive naturally. Pregnancy rates diminish dramatically as women age – from around 25% at age 25 to around 4% at age 40.
And because it is difficult for women to conceive naturally at an advanced age, it is best to seek professional guidance very soon after starting to try to conceive. In such cases, IVF can play an important role and help women get pregnant.
Why Getting Pregnant After 40 is a Challenge?
The reason behind decreased chances of getting pregnant with increasing age is the decline in the quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs.
A woman is born with a large number of eggs which are all she would ever have. Every month, after puberty, her ovaries release around 1000 eggs. These eggs are lost forever. . So you can understand that by the time she reaches 40 years of age, her ovarian reserves will be severely depleted. Most women will have around 5000 eggs at this age. While you only need one healthy egg to fertilize with sperm, the quality of eggs in women with a low ovarian reserve will matter greatly in determining the outcome of treatment.
The egg quality plays a vital role in a woman’s ability to get pregnant. As you grow older, the amount of genetically abnormal cells you’ll make increases. If around 25% of eggs have genetic abnormalities in women in the age group of 25 to 30, the same number rises to around 80% during 40 to 43 years.
Such abnormal cells either do not fertilize or if fertilized, usually do not implant in the wall of the womb. Even if such fertilized eggs do get implanted, there is a greater chance of pregnancy loss.
These issues make getting pregnant after 40 difficult. But these numbers should not suggest the end to your plans of starting (or growing) your family, as they aren’t absolute and with the right help and support, you can achieve your dream of getting pregnant.
Is IVF After 40 a Sure Shot Way to Get Pregnant?
While assisted reproductive technology (ART) has advanced substantially in the last few decades, it still depends on the ability of the woman to produce high-quality eggs that can be harvested for fertilization.
The success rate of IVF drops with passing age. According to the American Pregnancy Association, while the live birth rate for each IVF cycle is 41-43% for women under age 35, it drops to around 18-20% for 40-year-old women.
However, it is still possible for women to get pregnant with their own eggs with the right mix of technology and expertise.
Recent advances in IVF technology mean that the procedure still retains its preeminent position among ARTs. The best part is that it negates many female and male infertility factors to increase the chances of you giving birth to a healthy baby. For instance, one of the most exciting breakthroughs in ART is a procedure that is paired with IVF, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). ICSI can help couples overcome severe male infertility.
While success rates can go down with increasing age, each case is different from the other and there have been many instances where women of ages above 40 have given birth to healthy babies with high-quality IVF support. At Dreams Fertility, one of our physicians will evaluate your unique situation and design a protocol that optimizes your chance of success.
Is it Possible to Freeze Eggs After 40?
Technically, you can freeze your eggs after 40, but you must remember that the quality of your eggs declines as you grow older. If you plan to delay pregnancy for later in life, it is advisable to freeze your eggs in your late twenties to early thirties as that is a time when the quality and quantity of your eggs are most optimal. However, many women also choose to freeze their eggs in their thirties, and sometimes even early forties, if they wish to start a family after 40.
What You Can Do to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
The quality of a woman’s eggs is greatly influenced by the ovarian environment. The ovarian environment is created by the interplay of various hormones produced in response to the larger physiological state of the female. It is a well-known fact that if the ovarian environment isn’t conducive, an immature egg, even though it is healthy, will not mature properly and has a high chance of failure.
It is not so much the quality of the immature eggs that deteriorates in older women, as is the deterioration of the ovarian environment with passing age. And thus it follows that if women over 40 wish to increase their chances of getting pregnant – either naturally or through IVF – they need to first fix their ovarian environments. Let’s take a look at what are the ways in which this could be done.
While what we eat affects literally everything that goes on inside our body, we will focus on the importance of a high-fat diet in improving the ovarian environment. High-quality fats (like cold-pressed olive oil) and their components help in reducing inflammation. They also play a vital role as substrates for the production of female hormones.
Supplementation with CoQ10
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is an antioxidant that has a vital role in the energy-producing mechanism inside our cells. Research suggests that CoQ10 supplementation has a positive impact on the ovarian environment and is thus a good supplement to consider if you are over 40 years of age and thinking of getting pregnant.
Cut Down on Smoking and Alcohol
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa College of Medicine observed the effects of cigarette smoking on ovarian function of women undergoing assisted reproduction. They concluded that “cigarette smoking is associated with a prolonged and dose-dependent adverse effect on ovarian function.” It means that you need to quit smoking before you get on to an assisted reproduction cycle to increase your IVF success rates.
Women who consume alcohol during ART have highly decreased chances of a successful live birth. Also, alcohol has a negative impact on fetal health. Women should completely abstain from alcohol when they are trying for a successful pregnancy, especially through ART.
Stress has wide-ranging effects on our bodies. When a woman is undergoing an ART cycle, this procedure itself is stressful. But at the same time stress itself has a negative impact on fertility. It is a vicious cycle and women need to acknowledge the importance of stress in their lives and try to manage it successfully to increase the chances of IVF success.
Get Fertility Testing Done
To enhance the chances of IVF success, it is important to get fertility testing done for both partners, especially if this is your first time trying to get pregnant. Fertility testing will show if there is a problem with either of the partners and helps in charting the next course of action.
For instance, if the male partner is infertile, there is an option to use donor sperm. In such cases, you have the option to get the sperm from either a sperm bank or from someone you know. If you are considering a sperm bank, try to get as much information about the donor as possible to clarify any doubts or questions and to ensure that you are choosing a donor you feel confident about. If, however, you decide to go for someone you know, you are assured of the knowledge of his background. It is important to involve a lawyer and legal contracts, especially when using a known donor so everyone understands if the male donor will be involved in the life of any resulting children from his donation or if there are any financial responsibilities associated with a child produced from his sperm. When working through sperm banks, almost all matches are anonymous, so there is no need for these contractual arrangements. The intended parents will raise the child(ren) in all respects.
If the female partner has a medical issue, it may possibly be resolved either through donor eggs, or through surrogacy.
Consider Donor Eggs
For women wanting to get pregnant after 40, donor eggs can be a good option that many fertility clinics usually suggest. Donor eggs usually come from healthy women of a lower age group. This ensures that the quality of the eggs will be better and the chances of fertilization and eventual implantation will be greater. If you aren’t getting enough high-quality eggs for IVF, you may want to consider donor eggs so that you do not waste too much time and increase emotional stress.
The Importance of the Right IVF Partner
While all fertility clinics are set up with the promise of providing the best possible service to infertile couples or those at an advanced age, every clinic has its own proprietary procedure and guidelines.
At Dreams Fertility, we strive to make groundbreaking and constantly evolving fertility treatment accessible. Our high-performing reproductive medicine treatment options offer leading-edge healthcare solutions to men and women desirous of starting a family.
We understand that getting pregnant and bringing a child in the family is a huge decision that has tremendous financial and emotional consequences. To this end, not only are we committed to helping you afford the cost of IVF treatment and optimizing your success, we also help minimize the stress you feel during a treatment cycle so that you can enjoy the process and be ready emotionally to welcome a new life.
If you are worried about IVF cost, Palm Springs (Riverside County) based Dreams Fertility is your destination of choice with our exclusive financing option that includes interest-free financing for those patients who qualify. Contact us today to schedule your consult with our fertility specialist.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.