During in vitro fertilization, a woman is given medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Once extracted, the eggs are combined with sperm to make an embryo. The embryos then mature in a lab before being transferred back into the woman’s body. Women also have the option of just freezing eggs, without any added sperm, for future use. Donor eggs can also be used during IVF to help achieve pregnancy. This versatile procedure can be especially helpful for women interested in getting pregnant at an older age.
Improving egg quality
At puberty, girls have anywhere from 300,000-400,000 eggs. Once the menstrual cycle begins, about 1,000 immature eggs are lost every month. By the time a woman reaches age 40, fewer good eggs are available during ovulation. As a result, pregnancy may not be possible. If a pregnancy is achieved, there is a higher chance the baby may have a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome. To circumvent these issues, women may turn to IVF. When multiple eggs are extracted during IVF, the embryologist can select the healthiest one to transfer back into the uterus. Genetic testing to screen for chromosomal abnormalities can also be done at an early stage. Choosing a healthy embryo to use during IVF increases the chances of pregnancy.
Another way to extend the fertility window is to consider donor eggs. During this process, the intended parents will receive a healthy egg from a younger woman who has chosen to donate. The egg is then combined with sperm to create an embryo that is transferred into the woman’s uterus. At a more advanced age, a woman may not be able to produce any good quality eggs. However, the uterine environment can house a growing pregnancy for much longer. For women over 40 donor eggs can increase the chance of a successful pregnancy.
More and more women are interested in freezing eggs for various reasons. One such reason is a desire for delayed pregnancy. If a woman wants a baby but knows pregnancy is not in the cards anytime soon, egg freezing can help. This procedure extracts multiple eggs at once, essentially freezing fertility at a specific point in time. The younger the woman is during the process, the better the quality and quantity of the eggs retrieved. Eggs can be frozen as long as needed and used whenever a woman is ready to get pregnant.
40 is the new 30
With modern technology, 40 isn’t as old as some people think. Pregnancy is possible at this age, and IVF can help. Egg freezing, egg retrieval, genetic testing, and the use of a donor egg are all great ways to extend fertility. Don’t let older age be a reason to avoid pregnancy. With IVF, a baby is possible for many years.