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Age and Fertility Treatment

When it comes to age and fertility, how old is too old for fertility treatments?

USC Fertility teams evaluate a patient’s age as they create a fertility treatment plan, but they take other factors into account as well. Age and fertility are intimately linked, and when couples decide to seek treatment in order to conceive a child, they often wonder how their ages will influence the outcome.

Regardless of a woman’s age, the likelihood of conception depends on two separate factors:

  1. Her body’s (and her partner’s) ability to produce a healthy fertilized egg, and
  2. The health of her uterus, which will need to carry the embryo all the way to term.

Here at USC Fertility, we know that no two women are exactly alike, so broad generalizations about age and fertility don’t always apply to individual patients. But in most cases, a woman’s ability to produce a healthy fertilized egg tends to peak in her 20s and early 30s.

Age and fertility: treatments circumvent age-related limitations

By 35, this aspect of fertility begins a rapid decline, and by about 43, most women are no longer able to conceive naturally. On the male side, sperm production continues throughout a man’s life, but the reproductive viability of sperm begins to decline by the time most men reach their 40s.

At the same time, the successful introduction of egg and sperm accounts for only one half of the fertility equation. If this process can be conducted with clinical assistance through IVF (possibly using a donor egg) the viability of the uterus will determine the outcome. And in many cases, women can continue to carry a pregnancy to term well into their 40s.

In order to determine your receptivity to IVF, your USC Fertility team will conduct a careful evaluation. This evaluation won’t be based on your age alone, but it will take certain age-related factors into account. For example, you may undergo an antral follicle count and other assessments to estimate the number of healthy eggs remaining in each ovary.

Age and fertility: Can I be turned away?

If your partner’s semen analysis reveals critically low sperm viability, USC Fertility experts will explain the benefits of intracytoplasmic sperm injection with IVF. If your ovaries reveal an antral follicle count lower than about four, the chances for successful IVF treatment are unlikely to outweigh the risks, and we will discuss donor egg IVF.

In either of these cases, or in the event of a health condition that might prevent conception or interfere with the body’s ability to carry the pregnancy to term, USC Fertility teams will work together with the couple to identify alternative solutions to IVF, which may include donor egg or sperm, surrogacy or adoption.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “In view of the lack of data about maternal and fetal safety, providing donor oocytes or embryos for transfer to any woman over 55 years of age, even when she has no underlying medical problems, should be discouraged.”

Contact USC Fertility for more information on the links between age and fertility and the many factors that influence conception.