The age at which women are having their first child has been increasing since 1972. As fertility naturally declines with age, fertility treatment has been helping some of these women get pregnant. As a results, pregnancy over 40 is now quite common. We spoke with Nevzat from Cyprus IVF Hospital to learn about fertility treatment and pregnancy over 40.
Is it possible to get pregnant over 40?
Yes, it is possible to get pregnant over 40. We have a lot of patients who are focusing on their careers, and end up getting married later in life, and want to start their families also later. Getting pregnant naturally is a bit more difficult at this age (around 10% success rate) but some of these couples have healthy lifestyles, and their eggs and sperm are of good quality which gives a good prognosis for fertility treatment. When doing IVF, we get pregnancy rates of 40-45%. This trend goes down when women reach 45 years of age, to 20-25%. At this age, we usually recommend egg donation. If the couple needs to use egg donation, pregnancy rates increase to 80-85%.
Up to what age can women have fertility treatment.
At Cyprus IVF Hospital, the legal maximum age to have fertility treatment is 55 years of age. If the woman is between 45 and 55, there are certain tests that need to be done, to make sure she is able to get pregnant, sustain a pregnancy and give birth. These tests are submitted to the Ministry of Health and treatment is approved.
Common fertility challenges over 40
The main challenge is related to the quality of eggs. Women tend to have less follicles and when undergoing ovarian stimulation, may not develop many follicles, or not all these follicles have mature eggs inside. When we can get eggs, some of these may not fertilise. So, we have less eggs to work with or these may result in reduced quality embryos. That’s why we encourage women to freeze their eggs at a young age, so they can use them later in life. If women don’t freeze their eggs, or there is an egg quality problem, we can recommend egg donation.
What approaches can be used to improve the quality of eggs?
Apart from living a healthy lifestyle, there is some research going on investigating the use of PRP. There is also some research on the use of intralipids infusion after the embryo transfer. We’ve been doing intralipid infusion for a few months and have seen good positive results.
Benefits of pregnancy over 40
There are pros and cons to being a parent at every age. When reflecting about pregnancy over 40, we notice people are more mature, more experienced, as they have observed parenthood around them. People may also be more emotionally mature, more confident in themselves and in their relationships. Couples also tend to have more security in their careers and jobs and have more financial stability.