Age and fertility
Fertility decreases with age
It is important to emphasize from the outset that the main factor affecting the chances for conception is the age of the woman.
When the woman becomes 36 years old, the likelihood of normal conception has halved compared to the likelihood she was at the age of 20. At the age of 41, the probability of a normal conception drops to only 4%! This is the monthly success rate of pregnancy in couples who try alone when the woman is 41 to 42 years of age
The reason for this dramatic decrease in fertility after the age of 36 is that the number of healthy eggs produced each month drops sharply. Also, the number of healthy eggs that will undergo the normal maturation and fertilization process will be even lower if the woman enters an early menopause or needs some chemotherapy treatment.
The risk of miscarriage increases with age
As the woman becomes older, the eggs begin to divide irregularly, thus increasing the chance of genetic abnormalities occurring in the embryo. This means that for older women it is not just more difficult to achieve pregnancy, but there is a greater risk of miscarriage as well as of giving birth to a child with a genetic disorder, such as the Down syndrome.
Assisted reproduction can help
The good news is that with the development of reproductive technology, including IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques, we can improve the chances of achieving pregnancy. So if the woman is between 36 and 40 years of age, the chance of pregnancy with IVF is 35-50%, compared to 10% if the couple is trying to achieve a natural conception.
Genetic Screening (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis PGD)
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is the method used in IVF to control embryo DNA to detect specific genetic and chromosomal abnormalities prior to implantation. So you can select the embryo with the higher probability of pregnancy success.
Maintaining fertility (egg freezing)
The woman’s most fertile age is between 20-34 years. With today’s techniques, it is possible to thaw eggs at younger ages for future use. This is important for women who postpone childbearing for social reasons or for women whose fertility is at risk due to another serious illness such as cancer.