Most women over 40 who try to get pregnant will have difficulty, and fertility over age 44 is rare - even in women who are ovulating regularly every month. The point is that the older the female partner, the more likely that there is an egg related issue causing the fertility problem. Unfortunately, there is currently no specific test for "egg quality".
We don't know what causes most cases of secondary infertility, says Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., program director of the New York University Fertility Center, in New York City. "The majority of the time, though, it reflects the fact that you're older now, so it's simply more difficult to get pregnant." The reality is that for women, fertility peaks at age 25 and drops by half between ages 30 and 40. As we age, egg quality declines and we're more likely to develop fibroids and endometriosis, which contribute to infertility. Other factors such as adding extra weight, taking new meds, or having surgery since your last pregnancy can be an issue. It may also be that your partner's sperm quality or production is now poor.
Assess your preconception prep. Have you been on top of the preconception game or are you just too busy for baby-planning activities like charting and timing baby-making sex (or any sex for that matter)? Given that you have a little one underfoot, it's understandable if you're more exhausted than ever. It’s not easy for wannabe second-time parents to devote as much time and energy to TTC as they likely did on the first go-around, but it would be helpful to take a step back (and a hard look) at what's going on. Are your cycles still regular, or have there been any changes that might be hurting your chances for conception success? Have you been able to pinpoint ovulation with accuracy, or are you just having sex whenever (which would make conception less likely)? Getting back on track with tracking your fertility signs may be enough to put you back in the game.
Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality and the mechanics of the woman's reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring), a course of ovulation induction maybe used. The physician or WHNP may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap, which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor or WHNP introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.
All pregnancies can be risky, but there are greater risk for women who are older and are over the age of 40. The older the women the riskier the pregnancy. As women get older, they are more likely to suffer from conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If older women do conceive over the age of 40, their offspring may be of lower birth weight, and more likely to requires intensive care. Because of this, the increased risk is a sufficient cause for concern. The high incidence of caesarean in older mothers is commonly regarded as a risk.
PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an ovarian issue that can cause irregular menstrual cycles and make it difficult for women to ovulate — a crucial part of the conception and pregnancy process. Women with PCOS do not release eggs regularly, and their ovaries often have many small cysts within. IVF is a strong option for women with PCOS, since it can help their bodies ovulate to achieve pregnancy.
The percentage of cycles cancelled between egg retrieval and embryo transfer is an indication of failed fertilization. This figure is halved with ICSI as compared to conventional IVF, indicating that it can indeed improve fertilization when the sperm is at fault. However, there are no differences in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between conventional IVF and ICSI, indicating overall similar success rates1.
Secondary infertility is a secret club and one, I've discovered, with permanent membership. I was in a supermarket the other day and ahead of me in the cereal aisle was a woman with a boy of about nine and twin babies in the trolley. As I passed, she turned and looked at us. I saw her clocking my children and their age-gap and she saw I was doing the same with hers. We looked at each other for a moment; she smiled and I smiled back and then we walked on.
For any woman or couple facing infertility, the task of deciding on your next steps can feel very daunting. Of course, there’s no substitute for the advice of a fertility specialist, but a general idea of what to expect can help give you confidence. You might be wondering what is the difference between In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and IUI, or artificial insemination?
Infertility is, in all its forms, a most private, hidden anguish. Nobody wants to discuss the finer points of their reproductive system in public. And the desire to have a child can, if thwarted, be so overwhelming that just a glimpse from a car window of someone with a BabyBjorn can be enough to produce such a flood of tears that you have to pull over. How can you possibly articulate that level of pain to the casual inquirer?
It is extremely difficult for those with unexplained infertility to know when to stop looking for a cause, to say “enough is enough.” You may feel you are entering a state of limbo. You may feel stuck unable to grieve and get on with other options because you hang on to those slender threads of hope that the cause of your infertility will be revealed in the next test or treatment. Your sadness may intensify as time passes and you find no medical or emotional resolution. Consider finding a Support Group or Mental Health Professional in your area.
Primary infertility is defined as the absence of a live birth for women who desire a child and have been in a union for at least 12 months, during which they have not used any contraceptives. The World Health Organisation also adds that 'women whose pregnancy spontaneously miscarries, or whose pregnancy results in a still born child, without ever having had a live birth would present with primarily infertility'.
The cost of an IUI is almost certainly less on a per cycle basis, but because IVF has much higher success rates and IUI is a poor option for some, the higher per cycle cost of IVF can actually be more affordable in the long run – in terms of the cost to bring home a baby. Because most successful IUIs happen in the first three or four-cycle, it eventually becomes very expensive to bring home a baby with an IUI.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This procedure involves direct injection of a single sperm of the male partner into the eggs of the female for fertilization. Just like IVF procedure, in ICSI, the sperm and egg are collected from both the partners. The only difference is the fertilization process as in IVF the sperms and egg are mixed naturally, and in ICSI the sperms are injected into the egg using a needle.
If IVF were to involve the fertilisation of only a single egg, or at least only the number that will be implanted, then this would not be an issue. However, this has the chance of increasing costs dramatically as only a few eggs can be attempted at a time. As a result, the couple must decide what to do with these extra embryos. Depending on their view of the embryo's humanity or the chance the couple will want to try to have another child, the couple has multiple options for dealing with these extra embryos. Couples can choose to keep them frozen, donate them to other infertile couples, thaw them, or donate them to medical research. Keeping them frozen costs money, donating them does not ensure they will survive, thawing them renders them immediately unviable, and medical research results in their termination. In the realm of medical research, the couple is not necessarily told what the embryos will be used for, and as a result, some can be used in stem cell research, a field perceived to have ethical issues.
3. Painful Periods: We’re not talking about normal cramping here. But, severe pain that stops you in your tracks and even causes nausea or vomiting. Alone this may not be a sign of infertility, but combined with other symptoms like pain during intercourse, blood in the urine or during bowel movements, or irregular periods, can be signs of endometriosis–a condition that accounts for 20-40% of female infertility cases.
An IUI procedure is the process of directly injecting sperm into the top of the uterus. This increases the odds of conception by reducing the distance the sperm must travel to meet the egg. That said, when most people talk about IUIs, they’re referring to the steps leading up to and after the actual procedure. An IUI treatment can be summarized into a few steps:
Most parents have a mental image of their ideal family, and if they find themselves unable to make that happen, it can be devastating. Infertility is heartbreaking and stressful, whether you have a child or not. In fact, being a parent adds a layer of complexity. For one thing, parents are immersed in the world of kids, so it's impossible to avoid all the babies and pregnant bellies that remind you of what you're missing. Plus, "parents with secondary infertility don't often get much sympathy, so they end up feeling as though they don't have a right to be sad," says Marie Davidson, Ph.D., a psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. In fact, they're often told to appreciate the child they have (as if they don't). Finally, many parents feel guilt on two fronts: for not giving their child a sibling and for directing some of their focus and resources away from that child.
Unlike the simpler process of artificial insemination -- in which sperm is placed in the uterus and conception happens otherwise normally -- IVF involves combining eggs and sperm outside the body in a laboratory. Once an embryo or embryos form, they are then placed in the uterus. IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks to keep in mind. When choosing between IUI and IVF, the risk is certainly something to consider. The chances of experiencing either a miscarriage or multiples are concerns many have when deciding to undergo fertility treatments. So let’s take a look at the odds of either of these things occurring, plus a few other risks to be aware of.
Luteal phase abnormalities: The luteal phase is the part of the cycle that follows the release of the egg from the ovary. It may be inadequate in one way and this is called a luteal phase defect. The corpus luteum produces the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is essential for preparing the endometrium to receive the fertilized egg. Several things can go wrong with progesterone production: the rise in output can be too slow, the level can be too low, or the length of time over which it is produced can be too short. Another possibility is a defective endometrium that does not respond properly to the progesterone. Luteal phase defects can be investigated either by a properly timed endometrial biopsy or by monitoring the progesterone output by taking a number of blood samples on different days after ovulation and measuring the progesterone level.
Disclaimer: The information you enter is not stored by CDC and is only used to estimate your chances of success. The IVF success estimator does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. These estimates may not reflect your actual rates of success during ART treatment and are only being provided for informational purposes. Estimates are less reliable at certain ranges/values of age, weight, height, and previous pregnancy and ART experiences. Please see your doctor and/or healthcare provider for a personalized treatment plan that is best for you.
Ovulation induction (in the sense of medical treatment aiming for the development of one or two ovulatory follicles) is an alternative for women with anovulation or oligoovulation, since it is less expensive and more easy to control. It generally involves antiestrogens such as clomifene citrate or letrozole, and is followed by natural or artificial insemination.
Once the medications take their effect, your doctor will use a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a needle through the back wall of your vagina, up to your ovaries. She will then use the needle to aspirate the follicle, or gently suck the fluid and oocyte from the follicle into the needle. There is one oocyte per follicle. These oocytes will be transferred to the embryology lab for fertilization.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.
In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope.
After a year of trying to conceive, couples should consider infertility as a possible reason and seek professional help. Women actively trying to get pregnant may wish to consult a doctor earlier if they are over the age of 40, have irregular or painful periods, have a history of miscarriages, have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, or have been treated for cancer.
Very slight elements of risk are associated with any medical intervention but for IVF the most notable risk in the past has been multiple births. The impact of multiple births on birth weight, premature delivery, and post-natal complications is well known. This is largely due to the practice over the past 30 years of transferring two or more embryos during IVF. Thanks to PGT-A testing and Single Embryo Transfer (SET), however, doctors can now feel confident about transferring just one normal embryo. At RMA, we have established SET as the standard of care going forward. With SET, the risk of multiple births is drastically reduced.