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Rachel Gurevich

Some Former IVF Patients Over Age 40 Didnít Expect Infertility

By December 17, 2012

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Last week, a variety of news sites were reporting on a very small study of successful former IVF patients. The study, which included 61 families who all conceived with IVF after age 40, found that 31% thought they'd be able to get pregnant easily at age 40. Of those who were misinformed on age related fertility, 44% reported they were "shocked" to hear the facts.

But is it really that "shocking" that 31% of former IVF patients would be clueless on age related infertility? Sort of like the way obese diabetes patients are probably more likely to be "shocked" to learn their weight problem could lead to their diabetes. Certainly not all obese people would be surprised, but I'd expect a lot more of them would be compared to, say, healthier-weight people.

Plus, if you consider the statistics for a moment, about 29% of women age 40 to 44 will experience infertility. The corollary to this is that 71% will not. And I'm not saying women should rely on being the 71% who can conceive at that age - if they have a choice in the matter - but I am saying it's not so surprising that 31% of the women in the study didn't realize being 40 and up is a risk factor for infertility. They likely know women in their 40s who conceived. Personally, I can think of a few friends off the top of my head who conceived after 40 without any problems.

The study also found that fewer than 25% of the women surveyed said they would have tried to get pregnant earlier had they known about age related infertility. Despite what some news headlines would have you believe, many women who wait until 40 to have a baby aren't waiting for the heck of it. According to a Canadian study from last year, the top three reasons for waiting to have a child were wanting to be in a secure relationship, feeling in control of their life, and feeling prepared to parent.

(Then again, perhaps if they had surveyed non-successful IVF patients, a higher percentage would say they would have tried earlier if they'd known.)

As I wrote earlier in this post, this study was really small and limited to a very specific group (successful IVF patients.) A more interesting study would be to look at all women over age 40, or at least women over age 40 who struggled with trying to conceive. Few women can afford IVF treatment, and given the poor prognosis for IVF over age 40, not many who will face infertility will be successful.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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