How Old Is Too Old?
Recently, a local colleague of mine was quoted in the media about having an "an age cutoff" for fertility treatment, specifically IVF. I thought I'd enter the field to air my own thoughts on the question of "how old is too old" for becoming a mom.
In my practice at Houston Fertility Center, I don't use any particular age to determine whether a woman is "too old" to use IVF. Mother Nature will determine when a patient's body is unable to conceive. So we explore the same related variables -- egg reserve, uterine health, hormone levels -- with every patient.
Our primary emphasis is on the health of the hopeful mother-to-be.
As for IVF using donor eggs, which allows women with low ovarian reserve to become pregnant, I find that women in the age range of 48 to 50 are starting to think again about the impact (of carrying a pregnancy) on both their health and the outcome for the baby. We presently don't have enough data to clearly determine all health issues for women over 50 years old who become pregnant. Research has clarified, however, that children born to mothers in their later years have a higher risk of a number of health conditions.
As with virtually every other facet of the conception picture, a woman's age must be taken into consideration, but primarily in the context of her present health condition.
For more of my thoughts on a woman's age and her fertility, see these blogposts, too:
The Other Side of the Age & Fertility Message
Trying to Get Pregnant After 30 - Time to Panic?
ASRM Embryo Guidelines Should Improve Overall Picture for Fertility Patients