H. Jane Chihal, M.D., Ph.D.
You got a promotion…or are going back to college. How important is parenthood? There is evidence that fertility starts a downward trend in many women beginning as early as age 35. At age 20, about 800 out of 1000 women who try to conceive are pregnant in one year. By age 40 only 200 out of 1000 women who attempt pregnancy will succeed. Since the age of the eggs is important, “high tech” fertility therapies such as in vitro fertilization do not solve the problem. After age 40 in vitro pregnancy rates fall at least 50%, the incidence of miscarriage doubles, and the chance of fetal malformations increases.
Although these facts are not fair, they ARE reality. What are your options’? How critical is it to have your own genetic offspring? Would adoption meet your desire for motherhood? If delaying pregnancy past age 35 means that you could not conceive your own child, is it worth the risk?
If you decide to delay pregnancy, you can protect your future fertility by talking to your obstetrician/gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist, who is an ob/gyn with a fellowship in hormonal disorders and infertility. Let her review your history, assess any infertility risk factors, and suggest ways to safeguard your fertility options.
Reproductive endocrinologists suggest that you seek infertility treatment if you fail to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. However, if you are over age 35 (especially over age 40) and haven’t conceived in 6 months, you should seek evaluation from a reproductive endocrinologist. You don’t have to pursue treatment, but you do want to understand your choices.
This information is provided by H. Jane Chihal, M.D., Ph.D. Board certified. Dr. Chihal is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She trained at Louisiana State University Medical Center, and completed a fel-lowship in reproductive endocrinology at the Medical University of South Carolina.