Fertility: Age Does Matter
Women are finding more ways to defy aging, turning to tools including anti-aging creams, Botox, plastic surgery or exercise. But when it comes to age and fertility, Mother Nature is in charge.
Twenty percent of women wait until after the age of 35 to begin their families. Yet once a woman turns 35, problems with conception increase dramatically.
“Natural age-related decline in fertility is not affected by healthy lifestyle,” explains Lori Hollins, MD, director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at MetroHealth. “Fertility declines due to normal age-related changes in the number of eggs a woman produces in the ovaries. Once a woman turns 35, eggs decrease at a much quicker rate.”
There is also an increased risk of miscarriage and genetic abnormalities in children born to mothers older than 35.
“Age affects the success rates of a woman’s natural ability to get pregnant as well as infertility treatments,” says Dr. Hollins. “For example, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20% chance per month to get pregnant. By age 40, however, your chance is only about 5% per month. In many cases, these percentages are true for natural conception as well as conception using assisted reproductive technology, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).”
If a woman has been trying to get pregnant, an evaluation for infertility should be completed after spending several months trying to conceive. The evaluation should include testing to determine the ability of the ovaries to ovulate (ovarian reserve testing) and an evaluation of the male, including sperm analysis.
“If a woman is over 35, she should seek an infertility evaluation within 6 months of trying to conceive. If a woman over 35 has medical or gynecologic problems such as amenorrhea, sexual dysfunction, a history of pelvic disease, or prior surgery, she should begin the infertility evaluation immediately,” says Dr. Hollins.
Common problems include polycystic ovary syndrome, ovulation problems, fibroids, fallopian tube blockage, endometriosis and male infertility issues. “Proper diagnosis is always the first priority,” says Dr. Hollins. Many of these issues can be corrected by medical management and lifestyle changes. However, some issues require surgical management, in-vitro fertilization or egg donation.
The Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Program at MetroHealth specializes in providing diagnostic testing and treatment of complex infertility issues. MetroHealth provides outpatient procedures including ultrasound, office hysteroscopy and semen analysis. Dr. Hollins performs advanced operative procedures using minimally invasive techniques.
“Although it is more difficult for a woman age 35 or older to conceive, there are a number of ways we can work with her to increase her chances of having a baby a reality.”
For more information, visit the clinic’s website. To make an appointment with Dr. Hollins, please call 216-778-7624.
|Meet the Expert
Lori Hollins, MD
Specialty Interests: Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Gynecology
Areas of Interest: Infertility, Ovulation, Induction, Recurrent Miscarriage, Premature Ovarian Failure, Hysteroscopic Surgery, Menopause, Laparoscopic Surgery
Learn more about Dr. Lori Hollins