IVF Babble

Your options as a single woman over forty and wanting to start a family

“I am 43, I have a low AMH, my boyfriend isn’t sure if he wants a baby, and the world is in lockdown. Will I ever be a mother? Can you help me?”

This was in the subject box of an email we received from a reader last week.. We got straight on the phone to Dr. Olga Zaytseff from O.L.G.A Fertility Clinic and asked her to help Rebecca get some clarity regarding her options.

“Dear Rebecca, I read your story and connected immediately with how you are feeling. I can really feel your sadness and frustration. My lovely patients have told me variations of this story so many times: a partner who does not want children or has children from a previous relationship. They spend years hoping that their partners’ attitude will change, longing to become a parent.

Have a read through some of these stories, of other lovely women who decided they would just go for it alone. These stories will offer you a lot of comfort.(Click on the names to read their stories).

Lina  had her son Nicholas, on the very first attempt of IVF with her own eggs and donor sperm.

Christina was 43 when she had a son via IVF with her own eggs, sperm donation and PGT-A.

Cilla was 41 when she had her daughter Liv Olga via embryo adoption.

Q: If I have low AMH, does this mean that I will definitely have to use donor eggs? I am scared to try with my own as I really do not have the time to waste.

AMH is a numerical parameter and shows how many eggs are left, it does not say anything about “egg quality”. The age of the woman shows what proportion of eggs left is expected to have normal number of chromosomes and which are abnormal.

There is no magic involved with egg quality – a high proportion of normal eggs means “good egg quality”, a low proportion of normal eggs means “low egg quality”. This is why it is known that “egg quality goes down with the age”. Only eggs with a normal number of chromosomes are viable and will lead to a healthy live birth.

In our early 30s almost every egg is normal, hence even a low number of eggs available may be enough to create a viable pregnancy.

At the age of 43, only on 1 in 15 eggs is expected to have a normal number of chromosomes. Hence only very high ovarian reserve (many eggs left) may help to find normal ones.

Whether to try your luck with your own eggs and PGT-A, or go for egg donation or embryo adoption is a very personal decision, but we can help and support you, so that you are not left alone to make such a big decision.

Q: I am so desperate to be a mother but it makes me so sad to think that the baby will not be connected to me genetically.

Of course, using a donor egg to create your own baby feels absolutely abnormal and surrealistic. This method fully falls out of our regular template of how a family should be created. No one tells us about these options when we are young. And of course, when a woman who just starts her fertility journey and hopes to do it in a natural way, suddenly hears: “you have no healthy eggs left, you need egg donation”, she gets deeply traumatised. This news is not only something she has not expected, but this news also contains absolutely foreign terms and definitions and the feelings that are left are frustration and fear.

Talking to experienced doctors, psychologists, and people who have children through egg and embryo donation is the only way to normalise your feelings about this strange and distant way of creating a family.

We do have an introductory package into egg donation or embryo adoption that you might find helpful (and it is free of charge). It includes 4 individual skype consultations:

  1. With a fertility specialist to find out if egg donation is the only option.
  2. With a perinatal psychologist to normalize your feelings about egg donation
  3. With former patients who have a child or children through egg donation or embryo adoption
  4. With an egg donation team about egg donor database and how to choose the right egg donor.

Q: If I go down the egg donor route, do I see pictures of the woman who donated the eggs, or do I just read descriptions of the donor, like hair colour, personality etc?

Our patients receive everything: extended descriptive information, photos, motivation letters, and family history.

Q: Can my baby ever find out who its biological parent is?

You will keep all the personal details and photographs of your egg donor, and share with your child if you wish when you feel it is the right time. Donors in our egg donor database are currently not contactable, but this may of course change in the future. We also provide counselling on how to tell your child about egg donation.

Q: How likely is it that I will achieve pregnancy?

After having worked as a fertility specialist since 2004, I am convinced that is it impossible to NOT to have a baby if you are open to egg donation as your plan B or C, as long as you have a uterus in place and your general health is not too bad.

With egg donation or embryo adoption, we achieve, on average, a live birth within 2 embryo transfers.

I wish you well Rebecca. Please feel free to email me anytime for further guidance.

Dr Olga



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