Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old and crusty: why 40+ women rarely give birth

I turn 42 this November. What 42yo seriously has any success at pregnancy? With or without IVF.

Yes, yes, I know, Nicole Kidman has just given birth to the child with the horrendous name (Sunday Roast). Joyful, yeah-hah for her. But how do we know that was not a egg donor birth? She's not been able to carry before now, and she's obviously gone IVF. She's admitted to two miscarriages, but how many more were there? 

And yes, former heptathlete Jane Flemming recently had twins via IVF. Are these babies genetically hers? I hope so, but I doubt it. What the media doesn't tell you is whether these women use donor eggs. And to be honest, that's no-one's business but the parents and I wouldn't be advertising that either. 

Okay, sure, a 49-year-old woman in Queensland recently gave birth to triplets - naturally - no IVF. We know this because her doctor said it was true. Good on her. Bless her. What a wonderful story. But this is an anomaly. She is a lovely freak of nature.

So to those of you have have no fertility issues, have your own children, even despise your own children at times, don't tell me about all the stories you read in the media where older women have successful pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. By older women I mean over age 40. The stats are very clear. The stats are reproduced at infertility clinics the world over. Once you hit forty, your chances of becoming pregnant WITH IVF are around five percent. Your second cycle of IVF gives you a 12 per cent chance. A third cycle raises the success rate to around 20 per cent and a fourth cycle shows success to be close to fifty per cent.

BUT. And there always is a but. These figures reflect pregnancy rates, not live births. Why can I not find the statistic for live births for women of my age group? Obviously I am not going to get them from an IVF clinic. No, women like me skew success rates. 

And that is fair enough. If I were a fertility doctor I wouldn't want to treat me either.

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