When a female is born, the ovaries contain all the eggs the female will ever have during the lifespan. As a female matures and begins the menstrual cycle, the woman loses one egg per month. By the time a woman is 30, the number of eggs a woman has is steadily declining. Furthermore, the quality of eggs a woman has also falls. Eggs mature and age just like any other organism and older eggs tend to have chromosomal abnormalities that may cause miscarriages. Women reach peak fertility in the 20s and fertility declines until a woman experiences menopause. Menopause is the cessation of the menstrual cycle.
Can women over 35 conceive safely and naturally?
Due to many advancements in medicine, women over the age of 35 can and do have healthy, natural pregnancies. Often, these women take the necessary precautions and steps to safely conceive. For instance, these women will meet with gynecologists and fertility specialists to undergo tests to determine ovarian reserve and other pregnancy-related factors. Women over age 35 who want to conceive will also make lifestyle changes like eliminating alcohol or tobacco.
Fertility treatment options
For women who have exhausted natural options, there are several fertility treatments available. The success rates of these treatments depend on several factors including the age and health of the woman. After meeting with a gynecologist, a woman should speak to a fertility specialist to get in-depth advice about fertility treatments. Specialists will also suggest testing male partners to see if the male is dealing with fertility issues.
Who decides if a person should undergo fertility treatments?
Before suggesting any treatments, doctors will conduct tests to evaluate the patient. Doctors wait until a woman is experiencing trouble conceiving after 6 months of intentional intercourse. Once doctors examine the patient and determine that fertility treatments are a reasonable next step, the provider will suggest options to the patient.
Assisted reproductive technologies
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two forms of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) that fertility specialists perform frequently. With IUI, a woman takes fertility medications to stimulate the ovarian reserve; then the doctors place sperm cells into the uterus. IVF treatments require doctors to remove healthy eggs and sperm from male or female donors, fertilize the eggs with the sperm in a laboratory, and place the embryo into a female’s uterus.
Using an egg donor
Patients with low or no ovarian reserve may decide to use an egg donor. With an egg donation, a woman with healthy eggs takes fertility drugs to prepare the body for egg retrieval. Doctors harvest eggs from the donor’s uterus and keep the eggs in a laboratory to be fertilized by male sperm. Once fertilized, doctors place the embryo into the patient’s uterus. Women with healthy eggs may also decide to freeze the eggs or embryos for future use.
Consult with a specialist
For any questions or concerns regarding fertility treatment options or pregnancy over the age of 35, speak with a fertility specialist. A specialist will be able to answer specific questions regarding treatment processes, success rates, and risk factors.