Mother's Day 2024 health special: Can older women enjoy motherhood through IVF? Know facts and myths | Health - Hindustan Times

Mother's Day 2024 health special: Can older women enjoy motherhood through IVF? Know facts and myths

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 12, 2024 09:53 AM IST

In Vitro Fertilization has improved chances of live birth rate but is it the same when older women choose IVF? This Mother's Day 2024, know facts from myths

The Indian ART law allows In Vitro Fertilization up to 50 years of age for women and though it is advisable to try to get pregnant at an earlier age, this may not always be possible in the current era as women may have other commitments but with the advancement in medical technologies, health and fertility experts reveal that IVF has become a boon to older women to help them conceive. Also, as our knowledge and skills in obstetrics are improving, doctors can take a much more evidence-based approach to the management of pregnant women with advanced maternal age.

Mother's Day 2024 health special: Can older women enjoy motherhood through IVF? Know facts and myths (Image by Freepik)
Mother's Day 2024 health special: Can older women enjoy motherhood through IVF? Know facts and myths (Image by Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle on Mother's Day 2024, Dr Arunima Haldar, Consultant - IVF and Reproductive Medicine at Manipal Hospital in Whitefield and Varthur, shared that any woman trying to get pregnant above 35 years is considered a woman with advanced maternal age and busted the following myth while stating facts -

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Myth 1: It is difficult to conceive at an older age.

Fact: Although not entirely false, the results often vary from person to person. The reason for a drop in conception rates is the decreased quality and quantity of eggs and asynchronous cycles. There is a good possibility that conception can still occur naturally, especially in the younger lot out of these older women. A doctor can help these patients by understanding their cycles using ultrasound and modifying them slightly to correct minor abnormalities in the cycle. IVF, however, may be required with a quicker decision to undergo IVF as there is a constant decrease in egg quality and quantity and as these patients are usually left with less time.

Myth 2: IVF fails more often.

Fact: In women of advanced age, it is the egg quality and the quantity that suffers, not the uterus or endometrium. If IVF fails often, it is due to the egg quality or an abnormal chromosome in the egg, which leads to the development of an embryo not sustainable for life. Thus, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) of embryos is done in these women with advanced maternal age to identify the compatible embryo and transfer it into the uterus. Donor eggs are a possibility for those in whom self-eggs are not available or pregnancy is not happening despite using the self-eggs in IVF. Donor eggs have an equally good chance for conception as compared to women of younger age. Egg freezing is another viable option that is very commonly used by women who opt for late pregnancy.

Myth 3: Pregnancy is harmful for older women.

Fact: That’s not completely wrong; however, not everyone has problems in pregnancy. The common problems are preeclampsia, diabetes, an increased risk of caesarean, and preterm labour. Risk evaluation before conception and in early pregnancy, careful monitoring during pregnancy, and adequate rest can help the doctor and woman to identify problems early.

Myth 4: Pregnancy is harmful to the baby.

Fact: Choosing the correct embryo by PGS is important to have a genetically healthy baby, as mentioned previously. With advanced maternal age and the higher incidence of preeclampsia and diabetes, it can lead to intrauterine growth restriction of the baby. Proper care and rest should be taken during the pregnancy, which may benefit these women. Every woman does not have these complications. However, there is a higher chance of these complications during pregnancy in older women.

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Ila Gupta, Clinical Director and Senior Consultant Reproductive Medicine at Ferticity IVF and Fertility Clinics in New Delhi, revealed, “Recent improvements in reproductive technology have made it possible for women of all ages to become mothers through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Though, this new technology has improved the chances of live birth rate , especially when it comes to older women choosing IVF. Therefore, Some common myths about IVF in older women need to be busted.” She elaborated -

1. Myth: Older Women Should Avoid IVF Due to Increased Risk of Birth Defects

Reality: Even though getting older can make a woman less fertile and increase the risk of complications, IVF procedures along with procedure like PGTA is done to check genetically healthy embryo, which lowers the chance of birth defects. It is important to remember that a mother's advanced age does not automatically mean that her baby will have problems if the right safety measures are taken. IVF also offers other options, like freezing of self eggs at right age to use them later to avoid abnormalities. Can Try IVF with donor egg if your egg quality is not good or you have gone into menopause, to increase the chances of having a healthy baby .

2. Myth: IVF Always Results in Multiple Pregnancies

Reality: IVF protocol has changed over the years, making it easier to precisely control how many embryos to be transferred. Transferring single blastocyst reduces the risk of having multiple pregnancy.. This makes pregnancy safer for both the mother and the baby.

3. Myth: IVF Guarantees Pregnancy Success

Reality: Success rate for IVF depend on a lot of things, like age, quality, number of embryos, and treatment plan. IVF has helped a lot of women to get pregnant, but it's important to know that to improve the chances of success there are certain additional procedure required especially in older women. Improvements in technology and personalised treatment plans have improved success rate even for older women.

4. Myth: Older Women Can't Carry Pregnancy to Term .

Reality: Even though getting older can make things harder during pregnancy as risk of hypertension and gestational diabetes increases, it doesn't have to stop older women from trying IVF. Many older women can safely carry their pregnancies to term with the right medical care and supervision. When deciding on IVF, it's important to have accurate information and reasonable expectations. By talking to a fertility specialist, you can get personalized information about the risks and benefits of IVF treatment that is based on your unique situation.

It's important to bust the myths about IVF in older women, even though age can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant but IVF is still a good choice for women of older age who want to become mother, thanks to advancement in technology and personalised protocols. Remember that information is power and women can make better decisions about their reproductive health when they know all the facts.

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