What You Should Know About Infertility and Age
At Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health, we use cutting-edge technology to pinpoint the cause of your infertility and provide solutions to help you grow your family. Age is one factor that can cause fertility complications and infertility for male and female patients alike. We encourage our patients who are having difficulty becoming pregnant naturally to come in for an evaluation. For female patients, fertility rates begin to decline as early as age 30 which is why IVF after 40 is increasingly common. To learn more about age and infertility, contact one of our Phoenix, AZ-area offices today.
How Age Plays a Role
As our bodies age, they undergo many physical changes, some of which affect our reproductive systems. Aging not only reduces a woman's ability to become pregnant, but it also contributes to a higher prevalence of pregnancy complications and disorders among children. While men stay fertile longer than women, they are still susceptible to several fertility complications related to aging. Causes of age-related infertility problems include:
- Depleted Ovarian Reserve - The number of eggs a female patient has in her lifetime is finite. With each ovulation cycle, this number decreases until women reach menopause (the end of ovulation).
- Lower-quality Eggs - Your eggs decrease in quality as you age, which can impede their ability to become fertilized.
- Irregular Ovulation - As women near menopausal age, their ovulation cycles become irregular. This can make natural conception difficult.
- Chromosomal Abnormalities - The eggs that a female releases past age 35 have a much higher instance of chromosomal abnormalities, which can cause Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome, and other debilitating and potentially fatal disorders.
- Sperm Disorders - As men age, the prevalence of sperm disorders increases. This happens at a much slower rate than women's ovulation disorders.
- Higher Rates of Miscarriage - As women age, their ability to safely carry a child decreases. Some miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities, while others happen because the uterus is inhospitable to a fetus.
Recommended Treatment Options
The best way to avoid infertility and complications caused by aging is to try and become pregnant earlier in life. Of course, we recognize that many individuals decide to start families later for a variety of reasons. If you already know that you may want to have a child after your fertility peaks, consider sperm, egg, or embryo vitrification. Also known as egg and sperm "freezing," this process cryopreserves your reproductive cells for many years. The fertility specialists at AZARH can extract your eggs or sperm and preserve them for later use. Frozen eggs, sperm, or embryos can help you become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF), or be carried by a surrogate. To discuss the benefits and risks of freezing your eggs after 40, schedule a free consultation with us.
IVF is also a viable option for patients who have not previously frozen eggs or embryos. Through the process of ovulation induction, our team is able to stimulate the production of eggs at a desired time so that they can be harvested and fertilized in our laboratory. In addition to IVF, we also offer intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which sperm are placed directly within a female's uterus to increase the chances that one will join with an egg.
To address the decreased quality of eggs and increased chances of chromosomal abnormalities, we urge our patients to consider embryonic screening. At AZARH, we recommend preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for all of our patients. PGD is performed during IVF treatment after fertilization has occurred. This safe test screens embryos for chromosomal abnormalities so that only healthy embryos are selected for transfer.
Learn More During a Consultation
Our practice combines advanced techniques with a compassionate and individualized approach to care. To learn more about aging and how it relates to your fertility, contact our office today.