older woman trying IVF with their own eggs

We received an interesting question for this week’s Creating a Family show on Using IVF Success Statistics to Choose an Infertility Clinic.

You have to be super careful in interpreting the [fertility clinic success] stats. I was choosing between 2 local clinics, BUT, when I did more digging (and when I visited both), I realized that one clinic actively encouraging older (by that I mean >35) patients to either 1) go away, or 2) go straight to donor eggs, both of which inflate their success rates by weeding out more “difficult” cases. The other clinic, on the other hand, took everyone, and tried to work with the patient’s own eggs first (unless this wasn’t possible). This meant that they *appeared* to be less successful, when, in fact, for more difficult cases, they were the only option.

Our guest, Dr. David Ball, Embryology Lab Director at Seattle Reproductive Medicine, Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates in St. Paul, and Reproductive Health Associates in Pittsburg, and Past President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) said it was a very intuitive question. And he’s right.

In fact, our commenter is right that success statistics are greater when older woman use donor eggs rather than their own eggs, but as Dr. Ball said, it is hard to assign motive. Are the clinics pushing donor egg to inflate their statistics or are they pushing donor eggs because they believe it is unethical to pursue treatment with such low odds of success?

The typical odds of a woman over 38 getting pregnant in 2015 using her own eggs with IVF ranges from around 7-8% for 38-40 year olds, to 5-6% for 41-42 year olds, to <1% for over 42. Before spending $15,000+, patients deserve to fully understand these low odds.

Dr. Ball and I both agreed that a woman should not be refused treatment if she wants to use her own eggs after age 38. The truth is that many people need to try to conceive using their own eggs regardless of their age and their chances of success because they need to know that they did everything possible to try to have a genetic connection to their child. They might live with regrets otherwise. However, I can understand a clinic’s hesitancy to go forward with an IVF cycle knowing that the odds of success are so slim.

If you are choosing an infertility clinic, I encourage you to listen to this week’s show explaining how to interpret the clinic IVF success statistics.



What do you think of the question that was asked? Do you think clinics should actively discourage older women from doing IVF with their own eggs?

Image credit: Dick Vos