In vitro fertilization (IVF), is no doubt one of the best and safest ways of solving infertility problems.
It is a method that has been tested over time and has put smiles on the faces of many couples who have lost hopes of having their own children.
According to renowned gynaecologist and obstetrician, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, the Nordica Fertility Center MD, starting a family together later in life is often a challenge for many couples whether it is by design or not.
If you are in this category, you may start the journey worried about chances of success and if you need an egg or sperm donor, how you will find one.
Many specialist fertility clinics know and understand the unique challenges you face. Not just the possibility of using donor eggs, but the importance of male fertility and sperm health too, which also declines with age. It is not uncommon for an older man to have added complications, such as vasectomy from a previous relationship, or a woman to have become menopausal.
The good news is that you can still be assisted to conceive up to the age of 50 or higher, through IVF using donor eggs and donor sperm.
A comprehensive fertility test for both you and your partner is often the first step. For the woman, your ovarian reserve is important. It indicates how many eggs you have remaining, together with hormone levels and other key factors including your age. Your results help to decide if donor eggs are your best option, or if you may be able to attempt treatment with your own eggs.
If you are over the age of 44-45, you’re strongly advised to consider donor eggs. If you do wish to try IVF with your own eggs, additional genetic testing of your embryos may be necessary.
Older women are at a higher risk of a pregnancy affected by chromosome abnormalities due to age. You may be advised to have Preimplantation Genetic Screening which checks to make sure the embryos have the right chromosome numbers before transfer.
For the man, a semen analysis is necessary, which involves examining a sample of sperm under the microscope to examine the sperm count, movement, shape and volume. If necessary, an advanced sperm testing for DNA integrity is recommended.
Fertility treatment for the over 40s can be done with either fresh or frozen donor eggs. Some couples may need to use both donor sperm and donor eggs to conceive.
Generally, aside from IVF, other fertility treatments are less likely to result in pregnancy or birth for older women. As a result of this, middle-aged couples who want to have a baby but are having trouble conceiving are often advised to go straight for IVF, skipping other types of fertility treatment.
Research has shown that if you are a woman aged 38 – 40 and older, you are more than twice as likely to become pregnant through IVF within the first two cycles of treatment than if you use oral or injectable fertility drugs.
Chances of a successful birth from such pregnancies are also less likely because of higher rate of complications
It is no secret that for older couples, time is of the essence when it comes to fertility. So, moving to a more effective treatment quicker is the way to go. Although IVF has higher success rates with younger couples, older couples also benefit.
By going directly for IVF, doctors can help you, when you’re in mid-life to conceive despite the fewer eggs produced by the ovaries and eggs that are genetically abnormal due to age.
The belief is that fertility doctors should encourage patients to try conceiving as early as possible to avoid the attendant issues of older conception, if they can avoid it.
Pregnancy occurs more rapidly with IVF and with fewer complications than with oral and injectable medications. Essentially the latter methods work by hyper stimulating the ovaries, which often causes the woman to conceive twins or triplets. Those pregnancies tend to be more complicated and more costly.
In the long run, IVF saves time and money as the treatment of choice for infertility. It is more realistic in helping couples achieve a healthy pregnancy as embryos can also be screened for genetic diseases.