IVF Improvements Aid Older Couples Trying to Conceive
Way back when, it used to be that women would marry right after high school. And if they went to college, they would likely emerge engaged and would then marry just a short time after graduate. But by the end of the 20th century and certainly in this two-decades-old millennium, the outlook on marriage has changed.
It’s no longer a goal to marry at a young age, and often couples that do choose to marry aren’t legally tying the knot until their 30s, if at all. So what does that mean for couples who want to have children? And what about those older couples whose plans to have children are being stalled by infertility?
“Everybody’s waiting to get married and waiting to start their families,” says Dr. Chris Williams, a fertility specialist in Houston. “You’re not old when you’re 35, but we start talking in terms of advanced maternal age and some issues in terms of aging that may affect your ability to get pregnant and risks of miscarriages, etc.,” he explains.
Undergoing IVF is stressful for anyone, but even more so for couples approaching their fourth decade because, for many, it’s now or never.
They can’t say “We’ll try again in a few years” because that’s just not practical.
But improvements in genetic testing have made it easier to determine whether the “older” eggs from women in their late thirties are viable and suitable for implantation or whether these embryos have abnormalities that eliminate them as candidates.
Scott Purcell, also of Houston, is a lab director who performs biopsies to find normal embryos. He believes advances in testing are just what older couples need to make their road a little easier.
“Improvements in genetic screening make a big difference for older couples,” he explains. “We used to only be able to test for a handful of chromosomes. Now we can test for all chromosomes so you get more information. It’s more accurate information, and it’s less harmful for the embryo than it was 10 years ago.”
Dr. Williams concurs. He noted in an interview with Channel 2 Houston that testing for abnormalities improves pregnancy rates and reduces miscarriages to just five percent.
He added that with the genetic research available now, the idea is that one day doctors will be able to correct any abnormalities that are detected, hopefully enabling even more couples to have children, even at a more advanced age.Go back