1. What is the criteria before a woman is allowed to undergo IVF?
We recommend that women under the age of 35 see a Fertility Specialist if they haven’t achieved a pregnancy after a year of trying. Women above 35 should wait 6 months before they see a doctor. A Fertility Specialist will meet with a couple to understand their medical history and conduct certain blood tests for women to check for hormone levels (such as AMH, FSH and LH) to understand their ovarian reserve. For men, we conduct a semen analysis. If all their blood tests and scans are appropriate, they are a candidate for IVF.
2. What is the maximum age doctors recommend for IVF to be done in women?
A woman’s age correlates strongly with the success rate of IVF. The younger the woman, the higher the success rate. At Bourn Hall, we typically see patients that are aged 45 and below, as the quality of eggs rapidly decreases above 40 years old.
If a patient is above 45, it usually means she would need to use donor eggs for the IVF procedure, as the quality of her eggs will likely not be suitable to produce viable embryos. The use of an egg donor may not be acceptable to many people and is not permitted in the UAE.
3. What are the ethical issues involved in pregnancy in older women?
In modern times, we see many women delaying a family in order to pursue their own interests and careers. Unfortunately, reproductive evolution hasn’t caught up with our lifestyle. Carrying a child above the age of 40 can cause several pregnancy risks, and genetic abnormalities in the child are much more common. Ethically, age might affect the ability to raise children appropriately due to reduced life expectancy and the poorer health that can come with increasing age.
4. What are the risks involved?
Ovaries are less able to release eggs, egg quantity and quality decrease, increased risk of health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and increased risk of a miscarriage.
5. Is there a law in the UAE that allows a maximum age for carrying out the IVF procedure?
There is no UAE law stipulating a maximum age for IVF. It’s up to the different IVF clinics to issue their own clinical protocols taking into consideration the woman’s health first.
6. What is the maximum age that an IVF procedure has been successful in an older woman at BournHall?
We have achieved a successful pregnancy in a 47 year old lady, but it should be stressed that this is very rare
7. Please explain how the procedure is carried out.
A woman is first given ovarian stimulation medications to produce multiple eggs, which is then collected under sedation. The IVF procedure is then carried out by experienced embryologists who fertilize the eggs and sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is grown for 3 – 5 days and is then transferred to a woman’s uterus for implantation. A pregnancy blood test is then taken 2 weeks after the procedure.