June 6, 2012
In my 25 years of clinical experience as an ob-gyn physician, I have seen our specialty evolve, especially in the area of infertility. In Vitro Fertilization (aka IVF) has come a very long way since its first “test tube baby,” Louise Brown, back in 1978. When I was attempting to conceive (unsuccessfully), the price of IVF was exorbitant and it had a very low pregnancy success rate. 34 years later, the landscape has changed.
When women delay childbearing after age 32, they increase the risk of developing infertility and pregnancy complications significantly. It is now recommended that women over 35, who have not conceived after six months of having unprotected sex seek further evaluation as opposed to waiting a year. Women who are 40 or older and trying to conceive should be seen by a high risk specialist immediately. Women who are less than age 35 have a 41.7 % percent of conceiving as opposed to women over 42 who only have a 4.1% of conceiving.
If a woman over age 40 attempts to conceive through IVF, egg donors are her only option if the quality of her ovaries is poor or the number of eggs is reduced. However, the Center for Human Reproduction (CHR), a New York fertility center claims to have increased the pregnancy rate of women over age 44 to 10.3% through the use of a male hormone, DHEA. CHR takes pride in its reputation as being the fertility center of “last resort” and managing “aging” ovaries. According to its medical director, Norbet Gleicher, MD, the majority of their patients had failed IVF cycles somewhere else and were turned away by other fertility centers if the patients didn’t want to use donor eggs. Gleicher claims his fertility center succeeds where others have failed and allows older women to use their own eggs during the IVF cycle.
It would be helpful to see more medical studies done to prove whether adding a male hormone such as DHEA does in fact, increase pregnancy rates of women over 44. If these findings are true, it would take the treatment of older infertility patients to an entirely new level.
My hope is that all infertility patients will one day experience the joys of motherhood whether by IVF, or in my case, through the miracle of adoption.