One of the most common reasons behind difficulties conceiving a child is advancing age. You’ve most likely heard of the “biological clock” which essentially refers to fertility limitations regarding age, as fertility significantly drops when a woman reaches her mid to late thirties. This is because the quality and quantity of her eggs declines. From an evolutionary perspective, this gives women enough time to survive long enough to raise her existing children. However, many women aren’t ready to have a baby before this age, especially nowadays when starting a family isn’t a main priority, and they may have to look at their options when it comes to conceiving. If you do happen to be worried that the likelihood of conceiving is reducing with your age, it may be worth having a consultation with a fertility specialist.
If you are still in your early 30s or younger but not yet ready to have a baby, you may want to consider freezing your eggs to preserve your fertility. It would be a good idea to start with an ovarian reserve check to give you an idea of the timeframe in which you should be able to have a baby without treatment, as long as you don’t have any other fertility issues. If you are older and have been struggling to conceive naturally for a year or more, you may want to consider IVF treatment as an option. Your fertility doctor will be able to give you relevant advice based on your fertility health and lifestyle choices.
Can I Have IVF if I Am Over 40?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have a set of fertility guidelines that make recommendations on who is eligible for IVF treatment on the NHS in England and Wales. For women under 40, the NHS should offer three cycles of IVF if they’ve been trying to conceive through regular unprotected sex for two years. For women aged 40-42, the NHS should offer one cycle of IVF, as long as other criteria are met (e.g., they’ve been trying to conceive naturally for two years, they haven’t had IVF before, they don’t have low ovarian reserve). However, these are only guidelines, and Local Health Authorities often fund less, so it’s certainly worth checking on what’s available in your local area.
Many private clinics will offer fertility treatments to women over this age, as there is no legal age limit, but there are certain health risks for both the mother and the child, as well as greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and pre-term birth. For these reasons most clinics do not offer treatment for women over the age of 50. If you are worried about your fertility for any reason, we would recommend booking a consultation sooner rather than later so that you can talk through your options with a professional.