It’s a known fact that as a woman ages, there is a decline in her fertility. This is also why couples who are in their 40s sometimes avoid consulting an IVF specialist. They feel that when the odds are against them, getting IVF done will only be an unnecessary drain on their efforts, time and finances; the emotional ups and downs that they will have to go through are another deterrent .
• The biggest issue with older women (above 35 years of age), with reference to IVF is that there is a drop in the quantity as well as the quality of eggs
• There is also a natural rise in the number of eggs which are aneuploid (chromosomally abnormal); this means the chances of them producing a healthy, viable embryo aren’t too good
These are the main reasons of reduced fertility with advanced maternal age. Apart from this, there is also a higher risk of miscarriage which has to be kept in view when we talk about IVF for an older woman. However, as I mentioned earlier, there have been a number of technological advances in the field; it has helped overcome a number of these limitations.
IVF Success Rates
Over the years, there has been a steady improvement in IVF success rates, for women of all reproductive age groups. In addition, the process of testing embryos for chromosomal analysis ( using PGS, or preimplantation genetic screening) ) has become much more refined now. We are able to sample the Day 5 embryos (blastocysts); this helps us sample the cells which are destined to actually become placental cells, versus the previously-used Day-3 embryo biopsy, in which we were restricted to taking a cell from an 8-cell embryo.
Embryo Screening using PGS
With the blastocysts biopsy that we use at our clinic, the risk of harm to the patient’s embryos is very negligible, in comparison to earlier biopsy methods. What’s even more significant is that we also have the technology to clearly analyze all the 23 chromosome pairs with very high accuracy. Contrastingly, the tests that were available earlier could analyze only 10-12 chromosome pairs; they also had high error rates.
Now, we have the ability to screen embryos much more effectively, for chromosomal abnormalities- in most instances these turn out to be the primary reason for an age-related drop in fertility as well as a rise in miscarriage rates.
If we find that a patient has a severely diminished egg reserve and egg donation is the only recourse, there are advances in that space too. We offer patients the option to use fresh/ frozen eggs. The latter significantly reduce the wait times which can be pretty high if the patient chooses fresh egg donation for her IVF treatment.
When can Egg Freezing be Used?
Today, egg freezing technology is a good way to extend fertility preservation. A lot of career women who are deferring having a family are now opting for egg freezing. In fact, I would recommend very strongly that if a woman is planning on having a baby later in life, egg freezing is the best option. This way her eggs get stored when they are young, which means the quality of eggs is better too.
Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you!