When a woman is born, her ovaries contain all of the eggs she will ever use in her lifetime. For most women, achieving pregnancy is easiest in their 20s & 30s, while there are still a large number of healthy eggs. Today, many women delay starting a family in order to achieve career goals.
This delay may lower their chances of becoming pregnant later in life. National data shows a significant decline in pregnancy rates in women who are older than 35. Therefore, it is important for women to educate themselves about testing and treatment options.
We frequently read stories about older-aged celebrities becoming pregnant. Some of these women may become pregnant on their own, but it is more likely that they received some form of fertility treatment. Women wanting to become pregnant by using their own eggs have the best chance of success through IVF treatment as long as the ovaries can be stimulated to produce several eggs.
However, many celebrities achieved pregnancy using eggs donated by a younger woman, which greatly improves the chance of success.
A woman who decides to use eggs from a donor has many options.
They can match their own physical characteristic or those of their partner; such as ethnicity, eye color, hair color or any other important characteristic. Utilizing a donor’s eggs to become pregnant can only be done through IVF.
This process is expensive due to the fact that the donor needs to undergo multiple tests and procedures as well as compensation for their time. During the procedure, eggs are retrieved from the donor and either frozen for future use of fertilized immediately with the male partner’s sperm or donated sperm to create embryos. The embryos are able to then be placed into the woman’s uterus or frozen for future use.
A new option for women is the ability to freeze their eggs when they are in their 20’s and early 30’s. These eggs remain frozen until the woman is ready to begin her family.
When ready, the eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm to create embryos. After several days the embryos are placed in the female’s uterus. When a woman’s eggs are frozen, they do not age with her. Eggs frozen at 25 stay 25.
Although this process can also be expensive, it reduces some of the typical problems women may face later in life with the quality and quantity of their eggs.
Using donor or frozen eggs can improve a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. But unfortunately, it does not reduce other risks faced by older women when they become pregnant. Pregnant women over 35 have significantly higher rates of pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, bleeding, placenta abnormalities, and many other complications.
Ultimately, each woman has to make her own decision regarding her career choices and when she would like to begin her family. No matter what is decided, it is important to be educated. Your OB/Gyn or a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) specialist are great resources to find out more information regarding age and fertility.