Can science defy age pregnancy?
The commonly held view that you can always get pregnant with IVF‚ if you fail to conceive naturally is a misconception, even though I am the first to applaud the fact that, thankfully, there are many ways in which modern medicine can now help infertile couples to become parents. Only half the women who postpone pregnancy for the first time from 30 to 35, and less than 30 per cent of those who postpone it from 35 to 40 will be helped.
Susan and Jeff were both 39 when they came to me looking for advice. They had been trying to conceive for nine months.
Susan Because I came from a big family (I have six brothers and sisters) I always thought I would get pregnant very easily, so I started to get a bit nervous when nothing had happened after nine months of trying. Both Jeff and I made big changes to our diet.
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We stopped eating any processed foods and made an effort to eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible. We both stopped drinking alcohol. Although I am 39, I'm fit and healthy and I exercise three or four times a week.
We decided to arrange a consultation with Zita because I needed some reassurance that everything was fine with our fertility. She arranged for us both to have some tests done and it did come as quite a shock when the results showed that my levels of the hormone FSH were slightly raised and to learn that this was possibly a sign that the menopause is approaching. On top of that, Jeff's sperm count was low.
I had always hoped to conceive naturally, but when Zita explained that despite being fit and healthy our ages were working against us, I realized we didn't have the time we had thought we might have to keep on trying. On taking advice we decided to opt for an assisted fertility route. I know there can be no guarantees, but I don't want to waste any further time and end up looking back with regrets.
It is difficult to say how long you can afford to keep trying to conceive naturally, but in this instance we all agreed the best way forward was to start IVF treatment straight away.