IVF and Fertility Specialists Clinic
Female Age, Fertility and Infertility
Many couples learn too late about the impact of age
We do our best to overcome advancing age with fertility treatments such as IVF. However, egg quality is a significant limiting factor.
Individuals vs. Populations
Every individual and couple is unique and could be more fertile or less fertile as compared to the average for their age. Some 30 year olds already have significant egg quality and/or quantity issues and some 43 year olds are still fertile.
There are also no guarantees that an individual woman will have a smooth drop in her fertility potential as she ages. Although rare, it is possible to have a rapid decline in egg quantity and quality as early as the teens or twenties.
Male Age and Fertility
The age of the male partner does not appear to matter much when it comes to fertility. Reasons for this include:
Female Age - Egg Issues
See the graph below for more on aging and fertility potential
The graph below is from the 2012 ART Success Rates report from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a US government agency. This report uses national data from hundreds of clinics and thousands of IVF cycles.
The graph above from the government's 2012 CDC IVF Report shows the impact of advancing female age on IVF success.
Statistics on Female Age and Declining Fertility
A 1957 Study of Fertility Rate by Age in Women
The study was on a large population that never used birth control. The investigators measured the relationship between the age of the female partner and fertility. Infertility rates are now higher in the general population than for the population in this study from the 1950s.
This study found:
Reference: Tietze C: Reproductive span and rate of conception among Hutterite women. Fertility and Sterility 1957;8:89-97.
Importance of Egg Quality to Pregnancy Outcome
Poor egg quality results in poor embryo quality, which reduces the chances for becoming pregnant and having a successful outcome.
Female Age and Egg Quality
Age is one issue, but the real fertility issue is egg quality and quantity and not the number in a woman's age. Egg quantity and quality in an individual woman can be average for her age, better than average, or worse than average. We know that egg quantity and quality declines in the mid to late 30s and falls faster in the late thirties and early 40s.
Fertility and "Egg Tests"
The following ovarian reserve screening tests are used by fertility specialists to predict the "remaining egg supply" and the ability (reserve) of the ovaries to respond to stimulation with drugs. These tests are helpful. However, they predict the quantity of eggs remaining - rather than the quality of those eggs.
Available Treatment for Age Related Fertility Problems: In Vitro Fertilization
Many fertility doctors recommend that women over about 38 that are infertile should have aggressive fertility treatments and proceed to in vitro fertilization sooner - before fertility potential is lost.
Age Limits for In Vitro Fertilization
All clinics have an upper age limit after which they will not do IVF with the woman's own eggs. Most IVF centers will attempt IVF using the female partner's eggs until about age 43-45.
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