As age is irreversible, so is the egg pool. The number of eggs in the ovaries (ovarian reserve), and the quality of eggs (genetic makeup) dramatically deteriorates after 35 years of age.
By Dr. Ila Gupta,
Women’s age definitely has a great impact on fertility. Fertility peaks in the twenties, after which it starts declining. As we all know that the egg pool is fixed since birth for every individual, with time this pool starts aging and exhausted as we age. As age is irreversible, so is the egg pool. The number of eggs in the ovaries (ovarian reserve), and the quality of eggs (genetic makeup) dramatically deteriorates after 35 years of age. Ovarian reserve of an individual can be assessed by simple blood test (AMH) and by ultrasound to check for antral follicle count.
Myth: The egg formation/ ovulation cannot be a problem with regular menstruation.
In young women, usually the egg formation occurs timely if women is menstruating regularly, but this may not be true in older women. In older women the egg formation becomes erratic or if it forms, than rupture of the follicle to
release eggs may not happen in a few cycles. It has been observed that in spite of having regular cycles, they may not be ovulating in every cycle.
Myth: IVF treatment can overcome age related infertility
This is a common misconception among the infertile couple. In fact with age the IVF success rate also goes down. Most of the women visit fertility clinic after 35 yrs of age hoping to have the good pregnancy outcome in first go.
There are add on procedures with IVF/ ICSI to improve the chances of not only having pregnancy, but also to have healthy baby like Blastocyst transfer, pooling of embryos to increase the number of embryos generated, PGT ( embryo biopsy to check for genetically healthy embryos).
Myth: There is no risk to mother and baby after 35 years of age
The risk of miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities resulting in birth defects, mental retardation, cardiovascular and neural defects increases with advanced age. Complications like diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, intrauterine growth retardation, preterm delivery, increased chances of cesarean delivery and still birth are seen in older woman as compared to younger.
Myth: Younger women do not have problem of low ovarian reserve.
Usually younger women have normal ovarian reserve but in certain conditions like endometriosis, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problem, genital tuberculosis, PID, any surgery of the ovary or fallopian tubes, after chemo/ radiotherapy the ovarian reserve may reduce at young age also. These patients should seek the opinion of infertility specialist without delaying the planning for pregnancy.
What steps can be taken to improve the IVF outcome
By adopting a healthy lifestyle, fertility can be protected to an extent from the natural ageing
Regular exercise, balanced diet, maintaining healthy body weight, avoiding smoking/alcohol are
the keys to success.
Preference should be to complete the family before 35 years of age to have a healthy child.
Due to any reason, if you need to delay the pregnancy then look for the option of freezing the eggs for later use to have a healthy baby.
(The author is Senior IVF Consultant and Clinical Director at Ferticity Fertility Clinics, Delhi. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)