I Have Very Regular Menstrual Periods, I Must Still Be Fertile, Right?
By Francis Polansky, M.D.
The vast majority of women whose menstrual cycle length is between 21 and 35 days, do release eggs (ovulate). The average age of menopause in the US is 51.6 years and most women will continue to ovulate into their early fifties. Yet the ability to conceive a successful pregnancy (pregnancy not ending in a miscarriage) for most women ends around the age of approximately 40 years.
There are women older than 40 years conceiving successfully, but they are an exception to the rule and “far apart”. These women are “biologically younger” than their chronological age. An “ovarian reserve” assessment can be used to estimate the biological age before making a recommendation for the most appropriate reproductive treatment.
A pregnancy destined to continue to a live delivery is conceived from a “biologically perfect” embryo resulting from a biologically perfect egg fertilized by a biologically perfect sperm. Most such “biologically perfect” embryos (but not all) will also be “perfect genetically”.
As the majority of eggs and sperm produced by even young, very fertile couples are less than “biologically perfect”, and since human egg fertilization is a common occurrence, most human embryos, whether created spontaneously or in a laboratory, are also less than “biologically perfect”. Such embryos either do not implant at all, or only temporarily, and such pregnancies will result in a miscarriage.
As women approach the age of approximately 40 years, they can create fewer and fewer genetically and biologically normal embryos, and such couples either do not conceive at all or face an ever increasing risk of a miscarriage.
For some women, the right type of lifestyle could extend and improve their fertility potential, but, with few exceptions, women past the age of approximately 43 will need to rely on Donor Egg IVF to conceive successfully.
Donor Egg IVF treatment has typically a very high probability of success, and, if you have a family member (younger sister, cousin, niece…) willing to donate eggs to you, your genetic link can be preserved.
Please call or email us if you are interested in finding out more about the impact of female age on the fertility potential.