Impact of Female Age
Bay IVF - Advanced Reproductive Care                                Palo Alto  650-322-0500

 

Too Old to Conceive?

By Francis Polansky, M.D.

Recently, a potential patient became quite upset when she was told that because of her age, unfortunately, we would not be able to help her conceive with her own eggs.

Bay IVF has been very successful in helping build families over the last 35 years, but we have never had ongoing pregnancies and live births from one’s own eggs when the female partner is 44 years or older.

For a pregnancy to result in a live birth, it must be conceived from a biologically “perfect” embryo (most of which are also “perfect” genetically) resulting from a biologically “perfect” egg fertilized by a biologically “perfect” sperm.

The male partner’s age is usually not a significant factor influencing the sperm quality until well into the fifties and sixties.

Women, on the other hand, have the highest quality eggs in their mid-twenties, with a very slight decline until approximately 32 or 33 years. After that, the remaining egg quality decreases at an accelerated rate.

Most women will run out of their biologically “perfect” eggs sometime between the ages of 39 and a half and 40 and a half. A forty-year-old woman still has tens of thousands of eggs within her ovaries, but past this age, most women either do not conceive at all, or the pregnancies tend to end in miscarriages.

The situation is the same whether such pregnancies are conceived with intercourse, artificial insemination, or In Vitro Fertilization.

The receptivity of the uterus does not decrease with age, and there is practically no biological age limit for conceiving from “young” donor eggs. Patients 44 and older should strongly consider Donor Egg IVF or Frozen Donor Egg IVF as the most meaningful treatment to achieve a successful pregnancy.

To conceive from your own eggs, it is important that you do not wait too long before seeing an infertility specialist. Please note that there is no distinction between having unprotected intercourse and "trying" to conceive. They both represent "exposure" to conception.

The following table illustrates the recommended length of "exposure", as it relates to the female partner’s age, before consulting a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) specialist.

Length of "Exposure" Before Consulting REI Specialist
Female Age No
Exposure
1 to 3 months 4 to 6 months 7 to 9 months 10 to 12 months 13 or more months
35 or Less Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
REI
36 to 37 Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
REI
 
38 to 39 Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
REI
   
40 to 44 Consult
REI
         

 

November 2019

 

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