The Biological Clock. Those three little words can have quite an impact, depending on who you say them to. A woman in her 20s will hardly pay attention unless she’s a tried-and-true career woman considering fertility preservation for the future. A woman in her early 30’s may feel a tiny quickening of fear, but she probably feels more irritated with whoever’s reminding her of the obvious. By the 40s, however, most women should have a great deal of respect for the reality of their Biological Clock; it’s no myth. Fertility in your 40s can feel like an upward climb in more ways than one.

Fertility in Your 40’s: The Very Real Effects of the Biological Clock

Yes, there are women who conceive naturally (without using the assistance of a fertility specialist) in their 40s, but they are not the norm. In fact, many of the pregnancies that happen to women in their 40s occur accidentally as the result of growing lax with birth control habits because they assumed their biological clock had stopped.

In fact, while your biological clock hasn’t usually stopped ticking altogether by age 40, your odds of getting pregnant decline dramatically. For example, your chances of getting pregnant at 30 are pretty close to your chances of getting pregnant at 33 (approximately 75%). However, your chances of getting pregnant at 43 are much less than that of getting pregnant at age 40 (10% versus 25%, respectively).  And, of course, with each birthday after 35, the chances of having a baby with some sort of genetic disorder increases as well.

What do I do If I want to conceive a baby after 40?

There are a few things you can do to increase your odds of getting pregnant after 40.

Start mapping your cycle. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start meticulously charting your cycle by keeping track of when you have your period. This will help you to establish when you are ovulating. In addition to the traditional marks on a calendar and rudimentary math, there are plenty of apps to help you. The good news is that sperm live for up to five days inside a woman’s body. Rather than waiting until you ovulate, start having sex at least once a day for the several days leading up to ovulation so there are plenty of sperm at the ready when your egg is released.

Schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist. In most cases, you may want to do this step first. A physical and work-up with a fertility specialist can ensure neither of you have any issues that might make natural conception more of a challenge and/or downright impossible. Time is of the essence so anything that can be determined now, such as low sperm count or motility, PCOS or endometriosis, will help you to make the best choices as to how you should precede.

Study IVF success rates. Start studying IVF success rates and other statistics pertaining to various reproductive technologies. In addition to helping you select the best clinic, you’ll begin to make sense of which fertility treatments are most likely to be successful based on your age and/or fertility diagnosis. While some may choose to begin with standard artificial insemination (clinically referred to as Intrauterine insemination (IUI)), others might decide to go ahead and pursue in-vitro fertilization (IVF) from the start.

Explore the option of using donor eggs. While we understand the strong desire to use your own eggs, women in their 40s are wise to read up and learn all they can about the use of donor eggs. IVF is a complex procedure; it can be very emotionally stressful not to mention financially demanding if your insurance plan doesn’t cover it. The fact is that women who use donor eggs have the save rate of IVF success as women in that particular IVF age bracket. Meaning, if you are 43 and you opt to use eggs donated by a woman who is 25, you will benefit from the same success rate as a 25-year old woman who undergoes IVF using her own eggs.

If you are beginning to experience the trials and tribulations of getting pregnant in your 40s, schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist so you can begin to learn more about your options. Don’t let your biological clock get the best of you.

source: freedigitalphotos.net

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Fertility preservation has created exciting possibilities for couples who might have been biologically thwarted otherwise. While typically considered an alternative for individuals facing cancer treatments that pose a threat to their fertility, it is also available for a host of other reasons.principles-and-practice-of-fertility-preservation.180x236

Should I Consider Fertility Preservation?

If you feel you are a candidate or would like to learn more about the process, search for a fertility clinic that specializes in fertility preservation to learn more and to ensure the best possible pregnancy outcome for you and your partner. The methods used to preserve fertility include:

  • Embryo cryopreservation.
  • Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation).
  • Gonadal shielding.
  • Ovarian transposition (oophoropexy).
  • Radical trachelectomy
  • Sperm banking
  • ovarian tissue cryopreservation
  • testicular tissue freezing

Some of these procedures, like testicular freezing, are more experimental and have lower success rates than other methods.

Here are some examples of the situations that most typically lead to conversations about fertility preservation.

One or the other has been diagnosed with cancer. Treatments for cancer continue to improve with every passing day and the forms of chemotherapy and radiation available to cancer patients now is quite different than even 10 years ago. Even so, whether your cancer requires chemotherapy, radiation, or the surgical removal of vital reproductive organs, there are steps you can take to protect your ability to have a baby. Your fertility specialist will talk to you about the type of cancer you have, treatment options and their potential effect on your own fertility so you can get a good idea of which preservation method is optimal for you.

You have a pre-existing medical condition. Certain medical conditions can make it more difficult to conceive. As a result, fertility preservation is an option for those who have been diagnosed with other medical conditions, or who may be on medications or treatments known to interfere with conception. These include things like lupus, glomerulonephritis, myelodysplasia, or adolescent females diagnosed with conditions associated with premature ovarian failure, such as Turner mosaicism.

You are on the career path. If you are currently in school and/or working towards a career that is not conducive to pregnancy and motherhood, you may need to put conception on the back burner for a while. Unfortunately, that back burner cools considerably after you turn 35 and cools almost completely after age 40. For this reason, many women on the career track opt to freeze their eggs. This allows them to use assisted reproductive technology (ART) later on with the same success rates attributed to her age when the eggs were harvested. For example, a 42 year-old woman who uses eggs from a 29-year old egg donor benefits from the same success rates experienced by 29-year old women who undergo IVF with their own eggs. In the case of fertility preservation, you are your own egg donor.

You have found “The One” yet. As they say, it takes two to tango. Unfortunately, Mr. Right doesn’t always arrive in time with your biological clock. If you are 30 and have yet to meet the love of your life, you might want to consider oocyte (egg) preservation so you can have healthy eggs on hand if he comes along later in life and the two of you have a hard time conceiving naturally.

Want to learn more about the ins-and-outs of fertility preservation? Check out the book recently edited by our own fertility preservation specialist, Dr. Kim. While it’s written like a text book, the average researcher was kept in mind so the pictures, diagrams and easy-to-follow text is a wonderful resource for couples interested in this revolutionary ART.

Contact RRC if you would like to learn more about your fertility preservation options.

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Holiday Food and Infertility – Watch What You Eat

December 4, 2014

If there’s one thing a woman who is struggling with infertility knows it’s that you have to watch what you eat. Unlike the majority of the planet, worrying solely about caloric intake over the holiday season, you’re stuck wondering what potential chemicals could be lurking in your food. Of course, the high-sugar aspects of holiday [...]

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IVF and the Holidays – 10 Tips to Make Things Easier

November 26, 2014

The Holidays. When you were a child, those words probably inspired a flurry of butterflies, an accelerated heartbeat and excitement. Countdowns began, the house was decorated and plans were made for who was going where this year for which gathering(s). Now, that flurry of butterflies and accelerated heartbeat my lack the same cheerful remnants of [...]

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