New IVF Methods Double Success Rates, Freezing Eggs No Longer Considered 'Experimental'

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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.

Researchers said that combining the two techniques have increased the chances of implantation for women in their 40s from 33% to 61%, giving them the same chances for pregnancy as women who are 32.

Additionally, the technology involved with freezing eggs has improved so much that it is no longer considered "experimental" and is now considered "standard." Egg cryopreservation is now a viable option for fertility preservation, meaning that if you have the money, you can put your eggs on ice and motherhood on the back burner.

Image via Juan Gaertner/Shutterstock

Doctors may have unlocked secret of IVF success for older mothers [Telegraph]
Experts: Egg freezing no longer 'experimental' [CNN]



The more options women have, the better, IMO. And I know that not everyone will be ready for a family before their 40's, or meet the right partner, or whatnot. But I think it is important to remember, that even with better chances of getting pregnant, pregnancy in your 40's is going to be more difficult than in your thirties or twenties.

That said, what *I* would really like to see is societal progress that allows for women who ARE interested in having babies and raising a family to make that choice at any age without jeopardizing their careers, education, etc. Canada is getting there (with paid maternity/parental leave etc.), but the truth is, child-rearing is still viewed as women's work, and therefore not given the respect it needs to get the support moms (and dads!) need.

I choose to be a SAHM (though I do work part time here and there). That's partly because I'm not qualified for a real job (that's what happens when you're a Mormon who drops out of university to make babies - not Mormon anymore). And mostly I like it (I think having *satisfying* part time work would be my ideal situation, if I could find it - certainly helps the sanity to get out of the house and converse with adults on a regular basis). But my choice doesn't work for everyone, and I hate seeing women choose it because circumstances work against them to be a working mother and SAHing becomes the only logical choice for logistical or financial reasons.

So yes, BIG YES, this is great news. Any medical advance that widens a women's choices gets a big thumbs up from me. But I really wish we could change the laws, and culture, and so forth to allow more women the option to choose to have children whenever they want without paying the unfair prices that working dads don't seem to have to pay. Having to choose between getting screwed at work now, or screwed by the difficult process of IVF and "advanced maternal age" gestation later doesn't seem like a very good choice to me.