The Challenge Of Pregnancy Over 40
For some couples, trying to get pregnant could be a challenge. Statistics show that up to 15% of couples in the US struggle with infertility. Most cases happen with men and women over 40 since fertility declines significantly with age. A woman’s ovarian reserve lowers considerably at this stage, and some men may have poor sperm quality. Today, infertility is no longer an ultimatum thanks to techniques like in vitro fertilization or IVF. However, some people over 40 can consider IUI first before moving to IVF.
Turning to IUI
IUI, known as intrauterine insemination, is often the first step of assisted reproductive technology (ART). With IUI, a doctor takes a sperm sample to insert in the uterus manually. The process starts with the fertility clinic taking a sperm sample which is then washed in a special solution. From there, the woman will take fertility medication to increase egg production and trigger ovulation. At the appropriate time, the doctor uses a catheter to insert the sperm sample. After 2 weeks, the doctor will request a pregnancy test to confirm pregnancy.
Can age impact IUI?
IUI has a 10-20% success rate after 2-3 cycles. This may look like a low figure, but a healthy woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month at age 30. From age 40, this figure decreases significantly, and IUI is no different. For instance, IUI for women between the ages of 40-42 has a 9.8% success rate. The reduced success rates are often due to the diminished ovarian reserve. Even with a low figure, IUI can still be a viable option before IVF. If the woman has a healthy uterus, but there are some male-factor infertility concerns, IUI may be a good option. IUI is also cheaper and less stressful on the body. So opting for a few cycles of IUI first can be sufficient.
When to consider IVF
There are times when patients are likely to have better results by avoiding IUI and opting for IVF.
In vitro fertilization is creating an embryo outside the body, then implanting the result in the womb. Compared to IUI, studies show that IVF has noticeably higher success rates. Hopeful parents should consider IVF if there are clear reproductive conditions like fallopian tube damage or endometriosis. IVF also works well for women with a significantly diminished ovarian reserve. Aside from female infertility, severe male infertility may require advanced techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
The choice is yours
Age 40 and above is a very delicate time for fertility. The odds of getting pregnant decline significantly, but techniques like IUI and IVF can help. IVF has higher success rates than IUI. However, that does not mean IUI won't work at all. Women over 40 with a healthy reproductive organ can try IUI first. If there are conditions like PCOS, cervical mucus, or male-factor infertility, IUI can also help. IVF can help with severe reproductive concerns or unexplained infertility. Speak to a reproductive specialist who can perform an in-depth review of a couple's reproductive health. From there, both doctor and patient can decide which technique is best.