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Age Limits for Pregnancy

Are there age limits for pregnancy or using your own eggs?

Are there age limits for pregnancy or using your own eggs?With new developments in the field of reproductive medicine and third-party reproduction, it seems like women can keep getting pregnant at later and later ages. Just look at the checkout line, with all the magazines showing beautiful celebrities welcoming healthy babies. It looks like there are no age limits for pregnancy! Is it really so simple?

Usually not. There are a lot of factors, testing and treatment that go into making pregnancy at older ages as safe and successful as possible. Our San Antonio fertility specialists are trained at evaluating and treating couples to optimize their chances of bringing a healthy child into the world, and seeing that child to adulthood. Here’s a look at how age affects the chances and complications of pregnancy.

The biological clock for eggs is real. And it does run out.

Women are born with as many eggs as they will ever have, and essentially run out of available eggs at menopause. But just because eggs are being made and released, doesn’t mean that they work well. The older you become, the less chance of using your own eggs to get pregnant.

After age 43 to 44, the chances of conception, even with the most aggressive fertility treatments like IVF stimulation, do not go much higher than 5%. Additionally, the risk of miscarriage goes above 50%, and the risk of chromosomal anomalies (like Trisomy 13, 18 or 21, Down syndrome) increases as well.

For this reason, many women in their mid-40s and later choose to use donor eggs to conceive. In fact, IVF with donor eggs can help women conceive even after they have gone through menopause, with pregnancy and miscarriage chances closer to someone in their mid-20s. With successive embryo transfers, the cumulative pregnancy rate with donor eggs can approach 80% to 90% success.

The uterus works hard, but so does the rest of the body.

The uterus can do the job of carrying a pregnancy well into someone’s early 50s, as long as the right hormone preparation is used at the correct times. However, pregnancy after age 45 looks very different than pregnancies in your 20s and 30s, regardless of whether you’re using your own eggs or donor eggs. For this reason, our San Antonio fertility specialists carefully follow our professional society guidelines when it comes to health and safety at advanced reproductive ages.

Because medical and obstetric complications happen much more frequently after age 45, medical, cardiac and high-risk obstetric evaluations are necessary prior to pregnancy, to ensure the pregnancy can progress as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, there are psychosocial factors that are considered with pregnancies later in life. One primary focus is making sure that the resulting child(ren) are able to reach adulthood with appropriate support from family and loved ones. While life-expectancy is now well into the 70s, the risks of cancer and heart disease continue to increase beyond age 50, which means appropriate preventative health maintenance with a primary care physician is essential to not only the parent’s health, but the environment of that child.

Age limits for pregnancy vary from clinic to clinic, but are based on data and science.

Our San Antonio reproductive specialists want the safest and healthiest pregnancy for all patients, and that’s a big consideration when it comes to age limits for pregnancy and decisions about using your own eggs. Similarly, our patients trust that we will recommend the fertility treatments that are the most safe and effective.

We proudly follow ASRM professional guidelines for the use of single embryo transfer to optimize chances for a healthy and full-term live birth. When it comes to age limits for pregnancy, we also follow ASRM recommendations to achieve pregnancy no later than age 55, given the significant cardiac and obstetric risks that are more likely to happen after this age.

If you’re considering pregnancy at older ages, make an appointment to discuss your options.

Parents at advanced reproductive ages can offer greater financial and emotional stability than they may have been able to in earlier years. Now with recent reproductive advances, we can help it be a safer and more successful pregnancy as well. Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment and learn more about potential age limits for pregnancy and how to conceive later in life.

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