Delaying childbearing: how old is too old?
The last time I’ve Skyped with my best friend, I asked her whether she would consider freezing some of her eggs before her 36th birthday comes at the end of the month?
Only 10-15 eggs, just to relief stress due to the recent breakup and make sure that she can still get pregnant in the future?
She gave me a strange look and said, but I will turn 39, not 36.
Of course I should have known.
I mean, if I am getting older, my best friend must be getting older too, right? But somehow I didn’t want to accept that someone so important to me would come into the category of women who are delaying childbearing towards the limit of what’s biologically possible.
Delayed childbearing has allowed more women to join the workforce, but many who wait until their late 30s and 40s struggle to get pregnant. If you are over 35, the chance you might need help from a fertility specialist is 1:4.
There has been a sevenfold increase in IVF and other fertility treatments between 1988 and 2013, as well as other offerings in the IVF industry aimed at helping couples conceive, such as loans from fertility-finance firms and package deals on IVF treatments.
For us living in Europe, the thing which is hard to understand is that IVF industry in the US has gone so far that there are loans offering a guarantee of money back if it failed?! You get the money back if you don’t see a positive HCG test?!
In Germany, things are still much more grounded – fertility treatments are generally less expensive and the couples are said from the beginning, they had at least 80% chance to get a healthy baby within six IVF attempts. Yes – six, and the statistics on the other side of the Atlantic is in reality not much different, unless the clinic intentionally avoids to take patients with difficult infertility diagnosis in order to keep its success chances high.
IVF is expensive; it can run from $8,000 to $20,000 per attempt—and often, several IVF attemps will be needed to come home with a baby. To this, for most couples, insurance doesn’t cover the cost. Instead, couples tap savings, charge credit cards and get cash from their parents and other family. And just to make sure, couples can help themselves by cutting their spending or stopp going for vacations.
The rate of women having their first child at ages 35 to 39 nearly doubled between 1988 and 2013. There were 11.2 “first births” per 1,000 women of that age in 2013, up from 5.7 in 1988 and just 1.7 in 1973 (a three-fold increase in less then three decades).
For women ages 40 to 44, the rate rose to 2.3 births from 0.3 in 1973. Almost an eight times increase! How much longer should childbearing be delayed? How old is too old to have a child?
Generally, the number of treatments for ART (assisted reproductive technology) has soared. Nearly 175,000 treatments were done in 2013, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. To date, over five million babies were born by IVF.
Which is great in terms of enabling couples to become parents later in life, but not so great in terms of dealing with pain of infertility and possibility that the IVF treatment may never work. My message is, women should be in charge in their fertility from early age on, take care of their eggs as long as they have them, and not rely on the technology more then absolutely necessary.
If you need my advice on the supplements you’re taking or anything related to your fertility journey, here is how you can contact me.