Fertility Treatment Less Successful After 35
In Vitro Fertilization Doesn't Compensate for Decreased Fertility With Age
June 18, 2004 -- After age 35, a woman's
success with fertility treatments starts fading, a new study shows. Problems
that make natural conception difficult will also affect in vitro fertilization
In vitro fertilization "cannot make up
for ... natural decline of fertility after age 35," writes researcher Henri
Leridon, PhD, an epidemiologist with the French Institute of Health and Medical
Leridon's report appears in the current
issue of Human Reproduction. In it, he outlines a woman's odds of giving
birth -- both naturally and if she turns to in vitro fertilization
His complicated computer program factors in
a variety of details -- how long she waits to try conceiving naturally, how
many in vitro attempts she has had, her age at each attempt, her risk of
miscarriage at each age, and her probability of becoming permanently
Of women trying natural
At age 30, 75% will get pregnant within one
At age 35, 66% will get pregnant.
At age 40, 44% will get pregnant.
Within four years after trying to conceive
91% of 30-year-olds will be successful.
84% of 35-year-olds will.
64% of 40-year-olds will.
Of women who try in vitro
30% will give birth at age 30.
24% will at age 35.
17% will at age 40.
After age 35, women should "be
impatient," Leridon writes. "The chances of rapid spontaneous
conception are still significant, but in case of failure, [in vitro
fertilization] will not fully compensate for the years lost."
"Women must have realistic
expectations," says George Attia, MD, director of the In Vitro
Fertilization program at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He agreed
to comment on Leridon's findings. "Even though women are taking good care
of themselves, that won't affect their fertility," says Attia. "They're
healthy, in good shape, feel wonderful. But there's a different time clock with
"I think it's very important for women
to understand their priorities," Attia tells WebMD. "If having a child
is something you're looking forward to, you shouldn't delay it. Once you cross
the age of 35 and you have been trying for six months to a year, you have to be
more aggressive in dealing with the issue instead of putting it on the back
burner. Seek help; don't let it go another three or four years."
But don't give up hope, advises Tarum Jain,
MD, reproductive endocrinology and Harvard Medical School. "In the U.S., in
vitro fertilization success rates are quite a bit higher than European success
rates," he tells WebMD. "That's a very important aspect of this.
Success rates are dramatically different in different parts of the