The Misleading Promise of I.V.F. for Women Over 40
” Many young women were understandably seduced by the once widely publicized message that if they chose to delay pregnancy and were then unable to conceive, they could still have babies through in vitro fertilization, also known as I.V.F.
Miriam Zoll was one of them. Married at age 35, she thought she had plenty of time to start a family. After all, she said, “My mother had me at 40, and since 1978, the fertility industry has been celebrating its ability to help women have children at older ages.”
When at 39 she and her husband decided to start a family, they discovered that nature refused to cooperate. Four emotionally and physically exhausting I.V.F. cycles (and two attempted donor egg cycles) later, they remained childless. ” …
… continue reading The Misleading Promise of I.V.F. for Women Over 40, NY Times, OCT. 17, 2016.
Fertility preservation for age-related fertility decline
” Dominic Stoop and colleagues discussed the application of fertility preservation techniques to counter natural age-related fertility decline. We are concerned about some factual rates presented by the authors.
Most importantly, the authors fail to mention that natural conception rates in women older than 30 years, although rarely studied, are actually quite good. Estimates of the probability that women will have a naturally conceived child when they initially attempt conception at the age of 35 years are 85%.
As the authors point out, for women aged 25 years, failure rates for fertility preservation after oocyte vitrification are 70%, and increase to more than 85% for women older than 40 years.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of clinics offering this service—including the authors’ own clinics—are not sharing these rates with potential consumers, nor are they discussing the potential health risks to infants or women.
In delicate matters such as reproduction, we would anticipate a clear distinction between clinicians’ various interests, including scientific, professional, and financial. Although the three authors are formally correct when declaring no competing interests, their work in large fertility centres that actively advocate fertility preservation might be perceived as such. ”
The most comprehensive study to date evaluating the effectiveness of egg freezing revealed that, despite a new flash freezing technique, high failure rates continue to be associated with egg freezing procedures across all age groups.
Citing a lack of data on safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and potential emotional risks, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine report states, “Marketing this technology for the purpose of deferring childbearing may give women false hope and encourage women to delay childbearing. Patients who wish to pursue this technology should be carefully counseled.”
Liberty, Fertility, and the Pursuit of High-tech Babies
Cracked Open is Miriam Zoll’s eye-opening account of growing into womanhood with the simultaneous opportunities offered by the women’s movement and new discoveries in reproductive technologies. Influenced by pervasive media and cultural messages suggesting that science had finally eclipsed Mother Nature, Zoll –– like millions of women –– delays motherhood until the age of 40.
When things don’t progress as she had hoped, she and her husband enter a science-fiction world of medical seduction, capitalist conception and bioethical quagmires. Desperate to conceive, they turn to unproven treatments and procedures only to learn that the odds of becoming parents through reproductive medicine are far less than they and their generation had been led to believe.
The vast majority of assisted reproductive technologies fail…
” My name is Miriam. I am one of those women who delayed motherhood until the age of 40. I was fit and healthy, ate well and practiced yoga. I had no idea that trying to become pregnant would be so difficult. Since I was a teenager I had been bombarded by cultural and media messages that said it was okay to postpone childbearing. I wasn’t aware that women’s fertility declined so rapidly after the age of 35, and dramatically more after the age of 40. ”