Social trends and advances in reproductive science have led women to have “false optimism” about getting pregnant later in life, according to a new set of guidelines published last month by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC).
In a review of published literature on women’s age and ability to conceive, the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee concluded that many women are fooled into believing “they can delay pregnancy while pursuing their education and careers with the expectation that ART will help them conceive if they have difficulty conceiving later.”
The report highlights statistics showing that the success of ART cycles is significantly impacted by a woman’s age—younger women often conceive more quickly and more cycles are needed for women over 35.
In Canada, the 2007 live birth rate after ART treatments was just under 40% for women under 35 and slightly over 10% for women 40 or older.
“Age-associated infertility appears to be primarily related to ovarian aging and the diminishing ovarian follicle count,” the paper states, and goes on to conclude that the only effective treatment for age-related infertility and declining egg quality is egg donation.
However, in Canada, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the sale of eggs, sperm or surrogacy services—therefore, Canadian women are left to rely on “altruistic” egg donors who may only be compensated for items such as “medications or parking.”
Under the existing regulations many infertile older women are just out of luck or—if they can afford it—have the option to “turn to reproductive tourism and seek treatment in the U.S. or Europe”.
The report recommends that women in their 20’s and 30’s should be counseled about the age-related risk of infertility as part of Canada’s existing primary well-woman healthcare program. Women over 35 should be referred for an infertility work-up after 6 months of trying to conceive.
It does not account for any data on the thousands of women who do conceive naturally or via IVF after 40 (as in my case). Nor does it review the long term implications of more recent scientific improvements in cryogenics in which younger women’s unfertilized eggs can now be harvested during peak reproductive years and successfully frozen (oocyte cryopreservation) for use at a later date.
Angel also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally. For Angel’s full story, go to: http://flowerpowermom.com/my-story/