As women choose to start their families later and later in life, a higher proportion require fertility treatment to help them achieve their dream of having a baby. Science continues to advance and create incredible solutions that allow older women to have a child. However, most clinics, the HFEA (the UK’s governing body for fertility clinics) and indeed Access Fertility have an age limit for IVF and other treatment. In this quick article, our very own fertility specialist Miia Hughson explains why this is, and what the options are for someone above that limit.
Why we have an age limit for IVF
The ovaries are actually the only organ in the body where its function diminishes and stops before the menopause. Unfortunately, because that tends to happen from around 38 years old, the chances of IVF working by the age of 45 are low (less than 5%). Of course, some miracles happen, but because the success rates are so low, clinics set an age limit for IVF to have a realistic approach for the patients.
The real options for older women
Exceeding the age limit for IVF doesn’t mean the end of the road for every fertility journey. By using donor eggs you can greatly increase the chance of success with IVF. Increasingly, clinics are becoming expert in egg donation, and indeed, Access Fertility offers a special package to reduce the cost of IVF with egg donation.
However, it is important to consider that clinics will still set their own age limit for IVF, even with donor eggs. Fundamentally, the most critical factor is to ensure the health of both mum and baby. The clinic will require a full obstetric review, a mammogram, an ECG and a blood pressure test to ensure that the patient is healthy enough to go through pregnancy and birth. Additionally, they are likely to recommend counselling to support a decision to have treatment with donor eggs (the same is true when using donor sperm).
Access Fertility’s age limits for IVF
To help you see the age limits for our programmes at a glance, we have listed them below:
- IVF Donor Egg Refund Programme – under 49 years (under 51 at CRGH and under 55 at the Fertility and Gynaecology Academy)
- IVF multicycle programme – under 45 years
- IVF refund programme – under 40 years
- IVF unlimited – under 38 years