Trying to conceive without success is frustrating at any age. When you’re over the age of 40 and unable to conceive after six months of unprotected intercourse its probably time you consult a fertility specialist. There’s no reason to feel the mounting frustration when help is available.
Healthy conception, when you’re over 40 takes a little more effort. Focusing on positive lifestyle changes by eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, 7-8 hours of restful sleep, avoiding unhealthy habits and keeping a positive mindset are some of the ways you can help yourself as you pursue pregnancy. Seeing your doctor and discussing your fertility is equally as important.
Age Complicates Fertility
As you age your fertility becomes a little more complicated. Perimenopause, the period when your body begins transitioning toward menopause, causes hormone fluctuations which may hinder ovulation. Your store of eggs diminishes in both quantity and quality and you are at higher risk for both endometriosis and fibroids.
While it may seem as though you’re working with a stacked deck fertility-wise many women in their 40s do have successful pregnancies. Most need some form of fertility help, however. After a series of tests, your doctor will determine the best course of action for you. Here are some options for women over 40 who need help getting pregnant.
Ovulation Inducing Medication
Balanced hormones are necessary to ovulation. This often poses a challenge for women over 40. The two most popular hormone-inducing medications are Clomid and Serophene. These medications are both estrogen-blocking clomiphene and have been around for more than four decades. They are safe and effective.
Clomiphene targets the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, triggering the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which cause your ovaries to mature and release eggs. The more eggs the more likely fertilization will occur.
If clomiphene doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend stronger injectable hormones. These hormones have the same goal-triggering maturation and release of eggs. There are several different types of injectable hormones depending on your doctor’s diagnosis.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI, also known as artificial insemination is a procedure whereby the lab washes the sperm. The doctor inserts the concentrated sample directly into your uterus at the time of ovulation. This facilitates conception by placing the sperm closer to the egg which is in the fallopian tube.
Depending on different factors of your diagnosis, your doctor may determine this to be your best option. Sometimes the doctor combines IUI with ovulation-inducing medication increasing your odds for success.
The lab washes donor sperm or your partner’s sperm in a manner that removes non-sperm product as it may react with your own body chemistry. Washing the sperm also removes lower-quality, less-active sperm from the sample. A high concentration of healthy sperm increases the odds for conception, especially if combined with ovulation-inducing medication.
Your doctor monitors your ovulation cycle for optimal tinning of your IUI. They may suggest certain medications which make ovulation more predictable.
In the event fibroids, scar tissue or endometriosis compromise your fertility surgery is an option. Your doctor could suggest a hysteroscopy as a diagnostic tool to further pinpoint the cause of your fertility issue. For fallopian tubes blocked by adhesions or scar tissue, it’s possible laparoscopic surgery will remove the blockages. If you’ve had a tubal ligation as a means of birth control, you may opt for a reversal. In this situation your doctor will likely suggest microsurgery.
While there are different degrees of invasiveness depending on the surgical procedure, all will require post-surgery “down time”. A hospital stay depends on the intensity of your surgery but, you will likely be under anesthesia for the procedure.
In Vitro Fertilization
For women over 40 IVF offers a very high rate of success. Your doctor uses hormones to induce ovulation and help your body produce many eggs at one time. Your physician removes the mature eggs while you are under conscious sedation. This process isn’t at all painful and typically takes less than an hour.
Once harvested, the lab mixes your eggs with sperm from your partner or a donor. Once the embryos develop and deemed viable the doctor preps you to conceive. The implantation takes place using ultrasound guidance as a long, thin tube transfers the embryo(s) into your uterus. The lab preserves any remaining embryos for future IVF procedures.
Your Journey is Unique
There are many options and combinations of options for pregnancy after 40. Each woman is different and her needs are different as well. To find out more about your options for pregnancy after 40 contact Incinta Fertility to schedule a consultation.