Female age is a significant factor to consider when trying to conceive. Undeniably, a successful pregnancy outcome is closely related to the age of the woman, especially when she wants to use her own eggs. This is because the age of the uterus is not as important as the age of the egg, whose quality and quantity start to drop after 35, leading to increased infertility rates among women in their 40s. In other words, there is a much higher percentage of chromosomally abnormal eggs in women over 40 than in younger ones, which translates into embryo quality after fertilisation (see below).
But, what does this really mean for couples that want to have children at an older age? Should they just give up hope and let their dream fade away? Absolutely not. Thanks to advanced treatments, such as In-Vitro Fertilisation or IVF, among others, we can indeed overcome this age-related fertility decline.
IVF in a Nutshell
IVF is a sequence of procedures. It starts with a hormone therapy that stimulates the development of several follicles (eggs) in your ovary, which are then collected and fertilised in-vitro (in a test-tube) to create embryos.
After 2-5 days in an incubator, the embryos are checked for chromosomal abnormalities and the best one or two are then transferred into your uterus through the vagina, to initiate the implantation process and begin a pregnancy.
Although IVF success rates decline with age, we are very happy to treat women not only in their 40s but also those living through their 5th decade, with high success rates! There are also cases when patients in their mid-40s have enough quality eggs to proceed to IVF without the need of donor eggs. So, no treatment is the same, and this is why we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all treatment protocol for our patients.
Egg Quality, Fertility, and IVF
Ovarian reserve is the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovaries. If you are trying to get pregnant, it probably doesn’t really matter how many eggs you have. Things change, though, if you are going through IVF, where egg quantity is directly linked with the response to ovarian stimulation medications, which is a big deal because the more remaining eggs you have, the more eggs we have to harvest (and work with) with the IVF cycle. This, in turns, means that your chances to get pregnant and give birth to a healthy child increase significantly.
In more detail:
The quality of the egg plays a vital role in determining the quality of the embryo as the rate of chromosomally abnormalities in eggs (hence, in embryos, too) increases significantly with advanced maternal age. Indicatively, almost 30% of a 30-year-old woman’s eggs are chromosomally abnormal, according to studies. That percentage increases by another 20% by the age of 40 and reaches a frightening 90% by 44 years of age, which means that 9 out of 10 eggs of women in their mid-40s are abnormal and will lead to an embryo with abnormalities, too or a miscarriage.
Fortunately, Team Miracle at the Cyprus IVF Clinic has the technology and advanced equipment required to allow us to choose the best embryos from a group of multiple ones for transfer back into the uterus.
Facts About Having an IVF over 40 abroad
- If you want to use your own eggs, you should know that most IVF clinics in the US, the UK, and rest of Europe have an upper age limit for allowing IVF treatment. They won’t allow women over 42 or 45 (depending on the clinic’s policies) to use her own eggs for fertilisation. This means that even if your eggs are of good quality, you won’t be able to use them. Instead, you will be forced to use donor eggs.
- When you are using donor eggs, which is a remarkable alternative for women with poor egg quality or low ovarian reserve, the age of the donor is very important. So, make sure you get as much information as you can about the donor. Beware, as most clinics abroad won’t disclose much about their donors’ identity. However, you do have the right to know who will be providing their DNA for you to start a family. Don’t settle for anything less.
- When considering egg donation, rest assured that the only factor important is the age of the donor and not the recipient. Your age has very little impact on the chance of a successful pregnancy.
- Most fertility clinics abroad allow the use of donor eggs to patients’ up to their late 40s. It is devastating news for older women that want to have a child of their own.
IVF over 40 and Genetic Testing in North Cyprus
Studies that have focused on the chromosome and genetic make-up of embryos and eggs have concluded that the error rate is higher in women over 40, which is why older mothers illustrate an increased risk of, for example, Down’s syndrome.
However, with Preimplantation Genetic Screening, we can test the embryos for euploidy (chromosomally normalcy) before the transfer and select only the best one(s) for transfer. Needless to say, those embryos with normal chromosomal analysis have the best chances for not only implantation but also live child birth.
Donor Eggs and IVF over 40 in North Cyprus
In cases when the patient does not have her own eggs anymore (the ovaries’ follicles have run out)* or when her eggs cannot be used for IVF due to poor quality or chromosomal abnormalities, egg donation is the most commonly used alternative with excellent results.
*You can tell that by observing the signs, which usually include irregular or no periods at all that are often a forerunner of menopause.
Given that serious lack of supply of donor eggs in the UK and other European countries, many fertility clinics have to collaborate with overseas clinics and share eggs. Of course, this raises some red flags as you can never really know who the egg donor is and how meticulous their screening process has been.
On the contrary, the donor program at the Cyprus IVF Clinic, run by world-leading fertility expert and OB-GYN, Dr. Firdevs, offers a unique approach to those in need of quality donor eggs. Our testing procedure is remarkably rigorous, and all our donors are personally selected and screened by Dr. Firdevs herself. Our donors are no older than 26 years of age and have all donated eggs that have led to a successful pregnancy (proven donors).
Besides the bi-monthly screening procedures all donors undergo, some other tests include:
- Genetic disorders
- Hormone tests
- Infectious diseases, such as Anti-HCV, Anti-HIV, VDRL, and more.
We are completely patient-focused, which is why finding the best treatment per case is our top priority. No matter the fertility issue and the age of our patients, we are able to provide solutions that will lead us to the desired result. It should be noted that the selected egg donor is super-ovulated exclusively for your use. This means that we will harvest at least 10 and up to 20 eggs solely for your treatment and not share eggs with another recipient. You can expect 10 high quality eggs per cycle, guaranteed.
Where we also stand out is in regards the way we run the donor program. In many countries, such as the UK, such programs are not confidential and anonymous for both parties. The donor gets to know who used their eggs and what the outcome was while the recipient has no protection if their child seeks donor information. At the Cyprus IVF Clinic, everything is done with utmost discretion and anonymity.
However, you do have a saying when it comes to selecting an egg donor. For example, you can choose one that bears similar features like yours (i.e. same skin/hair/eye colour) and even the same nationality. You may also choose one per their education level and/or occupation, as well as body type.
And, if you don’t feel very comfortable with the egg donor idea, you can also consider having eggs from a loved family member or friend transferred to your uterus, which is something you will only find in a handful of fertility clinics worldwide.
Besides egg donation, we also run an embryo donation program, which is a great alternative for couples experiencing issues with both the sperm and egg. Again, our embryo donors also undergo a series of scrutinising tests to make sure the embryos are in perfect health.
You can either choose to have a fresh embryo donation treatment or use frozen embryos.
Final Advice for Women of Older Age
- At the age of 40, your biological clock ticks quite loudly. It is important not to psych yourself out. Instead, try to reduce your stress levels (i.e. yoga or other mind-body behavioural techniques). Acupuncture is believed to help with hormones and increase blood supply to the uterus, delivering a feeling of relaxation. Elevated stress levels put at risk the outcome of an IVF treatment.
- IVF is a great solution if you are over 40. But, don’t wait too long to seek help. If you are in your late 30s to early 40s and have been trying to get pregnant for 3+ months, it’s a good idea to see your OB-GYN and make sure you don’t have, for example, an ovulatory dysfunction or blocked fallopian tubes, which are correctable issues. At the same time, your doctor will also assess your ovarian reserve (via hormone levels) and determine whether you are experiencing early menopause.
- Consider egg donation. It has a success rate of about 70% per cycle for a woman over 40.
For any information about IVF over 40 or any questions or concerns you may have, please do not hesitate to call or contact us. Fulfilling your dream to start a family is our top priority, and we will let nothing stand in the way. The sooner you trust us with your issue, the faster you will walk towards achieving your goal!