Everywhere you look, there’s yet another new record for the world’s oldest mother, thanks to medical technology and the fact that today’s 40- and 50-year-olds are healthier than in the past.
But there are serious risks. Women older than 40 are more likely to have pregnancy problems such as preeclampsia, diabetes, premature birth, and a low birth weight baby, as well as placental problems. Read more about infertility and aging below.
In accordance with guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Accepts new patients before their 50th birthday.
- Offers IVF for patients who want to use their own eggs up to their 45th birthday.
- Offers IVF for patients who want to use fresh donor eggs up to their 51st birthday.
- For patients age 49 and over who already have frozen embryos in storage, embryo transfer is recommended by age 51 but available up to their 52nd birthday.
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Infertility & aging
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, success rates for IVF decline dramatically after age 37, making age the most important factor for women who want to pursue pregnancy using their own eggs. After age 43, donated eggs from younger women are often required for successful pregnancy.
As a woman ages, the remaining eggs in her ovaries also age, making them less capable of fertilization and their embryos less capable of implanting. Only 12 percent of the 300,000 eggs a woman is born with remain at age 30, and only 9,000 eggs remain at age 40.
Older mothers face a higher risk of adverse conditions and pregnancy complications such as:
- Increased risk of miscarriage (a woman who is 40 years old has a 50 percent chance of miscarriage)
- Genetic abnormalities e.g. chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome
- Endometrial receptivity (ability of the endometrium to receive the embryo) decreases with age
- Increased risk of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- Older women who are perimenopausal usually respond poorly to ovarian stimulation medication and their live birth rates with IVF treatment are significantly lower than with younger women
NOTE: Aging also affects male fertility, but to a much lesser degree. It affects sperm quality and coital frequency, but there is no maximum age at which men are not capable of conceiving a child.
Related Reading: Age-Related Male Infertility.