Understanding the Relationship Between IVF And Age
Trouble conceiving isn’t uncommon. Research shows that roughly 10% of all women in the US or 6.1 million people from ages 15-44 struggle with getting or staying pregnant. Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) is popularized in the media, the procedure only accounts for roughly 3% of all infertility services performed in the US. A common question around IVF is how old is too old to undergo IVF and how age directly impacts success rates.
Does age reduce success?
A direct correlation exists between age and success rates. In general, women ages 35 and younger are more likely to successfully conceive and have a live birth as opposed to older women. Specifically, reported statistics from fertility clinics show that women ages 35 and younger had a 47.5% success rate that resulted in singleton births, also known as single births, from retrievals using a womanís eggs.
How age changes results
Success dramatically declines as a womanís age increases. Women ages 35-37 had a 35.9% success rate for singleton births while women 38-40 had a 23% success rate, women 41-42 had an 11.6% success rate, and women over the age of 42 only had a 4.1% success rate. Along the same lines, women who underwent IVF at a later age also usually had more embryos transferred with women over 42 having 2.2 embryos transferred as compared to 1.3 embryos for women 35 and younger.
Why age matters
One of the biggest reasons that age directly impacts fertility has to do with egg quality. Women are born with all the eggs available for fertilization, and every year, eggs are lost. As a woman ages, the eggs can decline in quality, making conception more difficult. Poorer egg quality may require multiple IVF cycles for an older woman to get pregnant. But, along with the associated expense with each round of IVF, the psychological toll of the process can become a barrier for women and couples struggling to conceive.
More IVF cycles may be required
According to one study, while the first cycle of IVF usually yields a 29.5% live-birth rate, many older women may require multiple cycles to achieve success. The study showed that as a woman continued to pursue additional cycles, the chances of conception increased. Specifically, the first through fourth cycles yielded success rates above 20%. But women willing to continue into a sixth cycle could achieve results of 32.3% for women under 40, and 12.3% for women ages 40-42. Yet, most fertility clinics limit treatment to 3-4 cycles. However, research into the success rates of extended cycles may mean that clinics may begin extending treatment beyond four cycles.
While the statistics may not feel encouraging for older women who want to conceive, success is possible. Assisted pregnancy after age 35 is possible, and a woman who wants to explore options shouldnít be discouraged from speaking with a fertility specialist. Also, keep in mind that IVF is just one of many fertility treatment therapies that can be implemented that can result in a successful pregnancy. If getting pregnant is a goal, women and couples concerned about infertility should speak with a fertility specialist for a proper diagnosis and create a treatment plan.