More and more women are deciding to get pregnant later in life. The average age for a first birth is now 28, up from 24.6 in the 1970s. Some choose to wait even longer, delivering their first baby well into their 30s. In fact, the birth rates for women in their 30s are currently at an all-time high.
For couples struggling with infertility who are considering alternative reproductive methods, one of the most frequently asked questions about IVF involves age. It’s important to understand how age can impact IVF success.
Maternal Age Directly Impacts the Success of IVF
It’s widely known that a woman is most fertile in her 20’s. Studies show that women in their 20s and 30s have the most success when getting pregnant through IVF and other reproductive technologies. According to the CDC, the average percentages of assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles that lead to a live birth are:
- 31% in women younger than 35 years of age
- 24% in women aged 35 to 37
- 16% in women aged 38 to 40
- 8% in women aged 41 to 44
- 3% in women age 43 and older
Age affects the success of IVF and overall fertility in a number of ways. As a woman ages, she has fewer eggs that are not as healthy as eggs in younger years. Aging women tend to have a higher risk of developing health conditions that can impact fertility such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
Aging also increases the chance of miscarriage after a successful IVF procedure and the risk for chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome.
Paternal Age May Affect Pregnancy & Baby’s Health
The full effects of paternal age on IVF isn’t yet known. A select few studies suggest that IVF success rates may decrease once a man is over 51. Although only a few studies are available that show how a man’s age directly impacts IVF, studies show that age may affect the overall pregnancy and the baby’s health.
Due to random genetic mutations in the sperm of older males versus younger males, some studies show a small increase in the risks of:
- Pregnancy loss before 20 weeks (known as miscarriage) as well as stillbirth
- Birth defects such as those that affect the heart and the formation of the skull
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood
Advanced ART Methods Can Improve Success Rates
Advanced ART methods performed by IVF specialists can improve the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, increasing implantation rates to levels that are comparable to younger women.
For example, through preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), embryo biopsies can be analyzed to determine if chromosomal errors are present before implantation. These methods improve success rates by identifying the healthiest embryos for implantation.
Age Doesn’t Have to Define Your Path to Parenthood
Although success rates decrease after the age of 35, advanced ART options such as comprehensive chromosome screening and preimplantation genetic screening performed by IVF specialists can help increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
To learn more about the treatment options available to you or for answers to your frequently asked questions about IVF, schedule a new patient consultation or give us a call at (949) 706-2229.