April 21 -27 is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). As a practicing Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist in the field for 25 years, I have witnessed many exciting innovations and improvements in the clinical care of infertility. When I started 25 years ago, we were unable to treat severe male infertility other than with donor sperm, we were unable to effectively grow embryos and cryopreserve them, and we were also unable to cryopreserve oocytes. Today, these are all routinely managed. Alas, we continue to remain unable to turn back the hands of time and prevent oocyte aging. Reproduction remains age related; the older a woman becomes, the harder it is to have a successful pregnancy. Approximately 15% of couples desiring pregnancy are unable to achieve a successful pregnancy. In women over age 40, at least half are infertile.
Some women are keenly aware that fertility declines after age 35 and that after age 40 the decline is even more significant. Many of these educated women are choosing to have their children sooner rather than later. 10 years ago, the trend was to delay having children until after age 35, but this appears to be changing. Many women, however, remain unaware of their own biological clock and delay seeking help until their early to mid 40s. Sadly, many primary care physicians are also unaware of age related decline in fertility and advise their patients to wait before seeing a specialist and “just try a little longer”. This ill conceived advice compounds the problem.
Another innovation I have witnessed over the past 25 years is in the ever improving IVF success rates and especially the very high success rates in older women using donated eggs from young women. These innovations have largely come from the embryology laboratory. The recent announcements by celebrities in their mid to late 40s of spontaneous conceptions in my opinion does a disservice to women by giving them false hope that they too can have a successful pregnancy after age 45. While it is possible to have a spontaneously conceived successful pregnancy after age 45, the chance of such a successful pregnancy may approach 1 in 10,000. It is likely that many if not all of these celebrities conceived their successful pregnancies using donor eggs. One blogger after hearing of yet another older celebrity pregnancy wrote that “she wished one would admit to using donor eggs to conceive so that we patients over 40 years of age would not feel so bad that we were unable to conceive”.
Over the past 25 years the State Legislature in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and now in 12 other states have recognized that infertility is a significant health problem that can have devastating effects on the mental and physical health of people suffering infertility. The state mandate for insurance coverage for the majority of its citizens has been upheld despite many challenges. My hope is that in the future all will be able to have health coverage for infertility.
At the Fertility Centers of New England, our advanced, innovative, and compassionate fertility therapies enable pregnancy rates that are among the highest in the field. We provide greater access to care by also being the most cost competitive. Our IVF Assist program has helped hundreds of self-pay patients achieve a successful pregnancy. In fact we are so sure of our abilities of helping you become pregnant that if you are not pregnant after two IVF Assist cycles, we will provide the third cycle free. Compassionate care, convenience, and lowered cost for self pay patients is what defines the Fertility Centers of New England.
Have questions? Don’t know where to start? Contact us today for a free initial consult! We are here for you when you are ready.