The world has certainly changed for women in the past 50 years. As we have moved closer to equality with men in the workplace and have been allowed to pursue our career goals, we may sometimes find that time slips by and suddenly we are 35 with a great career but no prospects for a long term partner in sight. Many of our patients struggle with a sense of panic at the thought of not having children and ask us about their options.
First, waiting for Mr. Right may still be a good option, depending not only on your chronological age but also your “ovarian age”. While no single test is perfect, some simple blood tests will give an indication of your ovarian reserve and will give a better sense of the degree of urgency with which to pursue fertility. Some women remain fertile longer than others, and we can help to estimate where you fall on this continuum.
Secondly, harvesting and freezing of your eggs may be a viable option. Similar to a routine IVF (in vitro fertilization) process, patients undergoing egg freezing will be given hormone injections for several day to stimulate egg production. The eggs are then removed with a needle guided by ultrasound (under anesthesia). Rather than being fertilized by sperm right away, these eggs can be frozen indefinitely and thawed and fertilized some time in the future. At that time, the fertilized embryo is then placed into the uterus, and maternal age is of no significance (assuming we are still otherwise healthy), since as we age the frozen eggs remain the age at which they were retrieved. Since eggs become more difficult to fertilize and more likely to result in embryonic abnormalities as we age, harvesting and freezing eggs works better the younger we are.
So if one is considering egg freezing it is best to do it sooner than later. Unfortunately we usually don’t start thinking about egg freezing until we are in our late 30’s. At this point the eggs may already be of low quality and their chance of successful fertilization may not be high. This is also an expensive choice, with the initial cost being close to $10,000 as well as an annual storage fee and an additional fee at the time of fertilization and transfer of the embryo into the uterus. We recommend discussing this option with Dr. Laurie McKenzie of Houston IVF for more information.
A third option is pursuing pregnancy with a sperm donor. Donors generally are anonymous (we can direct you to a sperm bank where you can “shop” for a donor) but may also be a friend or known party. In order to conceive with a donor, we arrange for the chosen sperm to be delivered (usually frozen) to one of our partner male fertility labs where it is thawed and processed on the day of ovulation. Our part is to help you to determine when that day is, so the planned conception is accurately timed. Depending on your situation we may use ovulation induction medications such as Clomid to enhance success. On the predetermined day, the processed sperm are drawn into a syringe and inserted into the uterus with a small catheter in our office. This process is call IUI (intrauterine insemination).
Another option of course is accepting that having children is not a requirement for happiness and that if fertility is not in your future, that may be OK.
If you have questions about your age and how it relates to your choices for fertility, we would love to talk to you about it in more detail! Just let us know.
Did you learn something from this post? If so let us know! What topics would you like to see discussed in future posts? Please send feedback regarding this post to email@example.com.
7900 Fannin Street #3000,
Houston, TX 77054
5757 Woodway Suite 101
Houston, TX 77057
2950 Cullen Blvd Suite 201
Pearland, Texas 77584
Site Design: LOUD! Creative