Celebrities give women false hope, fertility expert warns

These days it seems many women are waiting until later in life to have children and this is more so the case when it comes to celebrities.

With the news that Brigitte Nielsen is to have her fifth child aged 54, IVF Babble ask what message is this sending to couples out there who are struggling with their fertility.

Does it give inspiration or false hope to women of a certain age? Should celebrities be more open about their fertility journeys?

We talked to Dr Marie Wren, fertility specialist at the Lister Clinic, part of the HCA UK on the subject of older women having fertility treatments and the likely outcomes.

She said: “If you look at the rates of women achieving a live birth after undergoing IVF and ICSI fertility treatment using their own eggs, there is a significant decline in success for women once they reach their 40s. Statistics show that for a large group of unselected women between the ages of 40 to 42, the live birth rate is 15 to 18 per cent.

“However, if a woman has a particularly poor potential to produce eggs – the live birth rate decreases to about four to five per cent and rises to around 25 per cent in women with good ovarian reserve.”

Dr Wren said once women reach 43 to 44 years old, the live birth rate decreases to around five to seven per cent. This, again, decreases further to around a one per cent success rate in those who have particularly low ovarian reserve.

Embryos that are cryo-preserved when a woman was younger, when transferred at some point in the future will have a higher potential to produce a successful outcome for the woman than any new embryos that might be created using her older eggs.

Dr Wren said: “While it isn’t impossible for women above the age of 44 to have a baby using their own eggs, it is important to remember that women who conceive and have successful, healthy pregnancies and subsequent live births within this age group are the exception not the rule.  Unfortunately, many women are unaware of the statistics surrounding their fertility, and so news of a celebrity such as Brigitte Nielson falling pregnant at 54 may fill them with false hope.

“Most fertility clinics will disclose information and statistics on their websites about success rates related to age however, it’s also important for women to have a general awareness of their fertility chances as they age.”

Dr Wren said the major factor that will determine whether a woman is able to conceive using her own eggs at an older age, is her ovarian reserve. There is a simple test to measure ovarian reserve, and this will enable fertility specialists to determine which course of treatment is best – whether that’s using the patient’s own eggs or seeking the help of a donor egg.

She said: “There are women who have conceived naturally and had children well into their late 40s and there have even been babies born to a few women in their early 50s, however, these women are either exceptionally lucky, or most likely they are also extremely fertile for their age, with a high ovarian reserve for their age.

“I understand that discussing how a baby has been conceived can be a sensitive subject for many however, if women aren’t open about this, particularly if in the public eye, then it can lead to misconceptions around the ease of conceiving later in life.”

Have you had a child later in life? We want to hear from you, email mystory@ivfbabble.com and let us know what the experience was like for you.

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