Too Long to Have
a Baby May Not Be Wise
Women who delay having a child until their late 30s can't necessarily
rely on artificial techniques to help them become pregnant, a
new study shows. The author says that assisted reproductive technologies
like in vitro fertilization cannot compensate fully for the loss
of fertility that occurs with age.
Based on computer calculations,
Dr. Henri Leridon found that if women postpone trying to conceive
for the first time from age 30 to age 35, assisted reproductive
technologies (ARTs) will make up for only half of the fertility
they lose over the course of those 5 years.
And for women who decide to postpone
conception from 35 to 40 years, ART will make up for less than
30 percent of her lost fertility, the investigator notes in the
journal Human Reproduction.
The computer model shows that,
among 100 women who decide to conceive at age 35, more than 80
will naturally become pregnant. Another 4 will likely conceive
after 2 rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and the rest will
likely remain childless, Leridon stated.
"The message to women is: up to
about 35 years, if you want a child, be patient. Even if you do
not succeed in one year, your chances of success are still substantial,"
"Beyond that age, be impatient,"
Leridon, who is based at the French
National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in
Paris, explained that some of the decline in fertility can be
compensated for using ART. "But ART cannot remove all effects
of age and give to a woman aged 40 years the fertility of a 20-year-old,"
To determine how well ART helps
couples recover some of the fertility they lose with age, Leridon
used a computer model that charted women's chances of conceiving
naturally, which gradually declined as they aged.
Based on the model, Leridon found
that three-quarters of women who try to conceive naturally for
the first time at age 30 will become pregnant within one year.
For women who wait until 35, 66 percent will conceive within one
year, and for those who start at age 40 the success rate is only
If women failed to conceive after
2 years, the model predicted that their chances of conception
using ART would also decline with age.
"Do not wait too long before consulting
for infertility," Leridon warned, "because the effectiveness of
medical techniques is also decreasing as you grow older."
SOURCE: Human Reproduction, July
Reference Source 89