Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

Fertility at 40

In the last 40 years, fertility has changed tremendously. Scientific advancements such as IVF treatment have made it possible for women to freeze their eggs, receive donor eggs and give birth later in life.

Whether you’ve held off from having children due to professional advancement, relationship status or simply haven’t had the desire until now, when the urge for a child of your own takes hold, it’s difficult to think about anything else.

From genetic testing to donor eggs, discover the various fertility options available to you in this post. Fertility treatment could be your ticket to motherhood.

IVF

For those considering fertility over 40, IVF is the most common route. Standing for In Vitro Fertilisation, IVF uses hormone therapy to stimulate the ovary follicles before collecting and fertilising eggs. The fertilised eggs are then placed in a test tube to create embryos; this process is known as the treatment cycle and can take up to 6 weeks to complete.

Next, collected embryos will reside in an incubator for up to 7 days before being examined by a specialist for defects and flaws. The strongest embryos will be selected for transfer into the uterus where pregnancy should ideally occur.

As you approach the age of 40, your chances of getting pregnant naturally dip, this is because you produce fewer eggs and have a higher chance of genetic abnormalities which effect pregnancy and run the risk of miscarriage. While giving birth to a healthy child after the age of 40 is certainly not out of the question, it’s important to be aware of the risks.

Genetic Testing

And this is where genetic testing comes into focus.  As mentioned above, the risk of genetic abnormalities in embryos increases with age and as many as 90% of pregnancies encounter abnormalities past the age of 44.

Therefore, genetic testing provides women with key information on what to expect and will help prepare you for every eventuality. Using sophisticated techniques of aneuploidy screening, the test is particularly useful for women who have had unsuccessful IVF experiences in the past or are approaching their forties.

Genetic testing can help to identify chromosome abnormalities, detect over 100 of the most ubiquitous abnormalities and even help to improve pregnancy and live birth rate transfer as only the strongest embryo with normal chromosome features will be chosen.

Above all, the test serves as a sound indicator of whether or not chromosomes are abnormal, enabling women to make an informed choice about their future.

IVF with Donor Eggs

If you don’t have any of your own eggs available then IVF using donor eggs could be the best course of action. As the ovaries store of follicles begins to run out with older age, many people turn to donor egg IVF as an alternative. If you are approaching menopause and notice your periods are irregular / non-existent it may be time to consider this option.

If you decide that this is the route you wish to pursue then your chosen fertility clinic will be able to assist you with a range of options.

Situated in central London, The Bridge Centre is an established fertility clinic specialising in fertility for the over 40’s. Offering a plethora of fertility boosting treatments to women under and over the age of 40, contact The Bridge Centre to find out about their free open evenings. 

This is a collaborative post.   

The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth

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Last year, I was contacted by Amy Herring, an eighteen year old student studying for her A Levels in Biology, History and Maths. She has applied to study Midwifery at University this coming September, and in relation to this goal, she has completed a research project on the effects of age on pregnancy and birth. I was immediately interested by the subject matter of her research.

Amy chose to write about the effects of age on the pregnancy continuum because as someone aspiring to be a midwife, to support a woman and her family through any situation, she wanted to broaden her knowledge in advance of starting her training; to prepare herself for the many different situations she is likely to encounter. She is particularly interested in pregnancy in older women as this is becoming more common in the UK for a variety of reasons. Amy feels that although pregnancy in older women poses its possible risks, it’s an option that all women should feel they are able to consider. In her opinion, midwives and other health professionals should present women and their families with their options in a way they can understand.

Amy’s research tested the hypothesis, ‘Is there an optimum age, that is not too old or not too young, for women to bear children’. To calculate the optimum age window, she made comparisons between ‘young mums’ (women aged under 18), ‘older mums’ (women aged 35 and over) and the ‘middle’ category mums, those falling between the two extreme categories; her argument being that mothers outside the optimum age window may have troublesome pregnancies, possibly resulting in complications in utero or a baby that experiences difficulties.

Amy’s research looked at conception and birth statistics, childhood data, data she collected from a ‘Bosom Buddies’ breastfeeding class, the lifestyle choices of women and the prevalence of pre-existing health conditions. Amy used many studies; these studies showed that older mums are more likely to experience complications such as gestational diabetes, placenta praevia and pre-eclampsia, and are more at risk from ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage. However, it is important to realise that Amy’s research was not complete; as she concludes: “Items have been cited in this project as needing more research; for example factors other than age, such as marital status, and how these affect outcomes.”

The research concluded that women in the ‘middle’ category – aged between 25 and 35 –   have the healthiest and safest pregnancies, for both the women and the babies. The older a woman becomes, the greater her risk of a pre-existing condition affecting her and her foetuses wellbeing. The exceptions to this are epilepsy, where women of 35 have the lowest risk and asthma, which affects women in the ‘middle’ category most commonly. Although Amy comes to this conclusion, she mentions in her project that older women do have factors which could make their pregnancy and birth more successful such as life experience and a more stable environment in which to raise a child.

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Older Mums thoughts…

So what does this mean for older women who have not settled down with a partner yet? One word stands out; HEALTH. For any woman wishing to conceive over the age of 35, just as I did, physical, emotional and mental health have to be top priorities. No smoking. No drinking. Plenty of exercise (and meditation to reduce stress levels). A well balanced diet, as much organic food as possible. Lots of rest and relaxation. I think there are many women out there who would ideally love to conceive at the ‘optimum age’ but can’t due to many reasons beyond their control; no partner, not feeling emotionally or psychologically ready (as I did), career demands. There are many many reasons as to why a woman may want to conceive later in life. Amy realises that a woman’s choice is an important factor in this decision. Society needs to accommodate this factor and all others, the world is not as it was, women are having children later, and this is something that won’t change.

Physical risks aside, there are many positives older women have in becoming a parent later in life; maturity, life experience, financial stability, older mothers tend to be in a solid relationship, all factors which can only contribute to the upbringing of a well adjusted, happy child. At the end of the day, we are talking about the raising of confident, secure human beings, and that is an issue which lies at the door of parenting, not age.

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I would like to thank Amy for sending me her research. It is important to be educated on the physical risks of pregnancy, and reminded of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet when considering becoming pregnant. I have a strong hunch Amy is going to make a great mid wife.

Amy’s research, The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth, is protected under the Copyright of oldermum.co.uk. All rights reserved.