Science has perhaps enabled women to press the snooze button on their biological clocks. A new, "potentially revolutionary" approach to IVF treatment gives women in their early 40s the same chance of pregnancy as those a decade younger, according to researchers at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Additionally, experts at the conference have decided to drop the "experimental" label from egg-freezing, declaring that the technique is now safe, effective, and standard.
There are two parts to this more successful IVF method. The first involves complete chromosomal screening (CCS), which checks that embryos have exactly 46 chromosomes—23 from each parent. While number errors can lead to chromosomal conditions like Down Syndrome, they're more likely to cause a miscarriage. Since by the time a woman is 40, 75% of her embryos are abnormal, this screening process can identify the healthy ones, and thus, her chances of successful implantation are "independent of her age," according to researchers. Some women, however, will never have healthy embryos, and the screening could save them the time, money, and heartache of further IVF attempts.
The second aspect of the method is using frozen instead of fresh embryos. A separate study earlier this year found that there is a higher success rate for pregnancy using frozen embryos, because waiting a month or two allows a woman's body to readjust and recover after receiving the hormone treatments used to harvest her eggs.