When we age, our bodies change as do our abilities, and this is just as true with fertility. Being able to conceive gets harder because of the biological changes that naturally arise with age. For women between 30 to 35, there is a steeper decline in pregnancy and increased odds of having a miscarriage.
With age comes diminished ovulation cycles in women, along with affects of medical issues (like endometriosis). There are fewer overall eggs left to fertilize, and a higher chance of creating embryos with chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, anywhere from 1 million to 2 million eggs. Even before a woman hits puberty, her eggs are depleting, and continue lessening through her normal menstrual cycles. Fewer eggs also affect hormone levels, reducing fertility further.
When you visit our Idaho Fertility Center team in the hopes of conceiving, we can run diagnostic tests assessing your fertility window. This often includes evaluating your medical and sexual history, taking a pelvic ultrasound, getting a pap smear, testing for infection and taking blood tests to assess your hormone levels:
-Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): This blood test will allow us to learn how much FSH is in your blood. If it is high early in your cycle it could indicate that your infertility is very much related to age.
-Estrogen: A blood test will help us evaluate your estrogen levels. Seeing high levels at the start of your menstrual cycle also indicates that your infertility is related to your age.
-Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH): This hormone created by your ovarian follicles allows us to assess your ovarian function by evaluating your ovaries and oocytes (eggs).
We may also evaluate your ovulation, checking your body temperature and taking urine samples.
Male Age-Related Infertility
Men also naturally experience diminished fertility with age although not as significantly. Typically this involves lower sperm quality that interferes with the sperm’s mobility and ability to fertilize an egg, and sperm production itself lessens over time. Additional factors potentially lowering fertility due to age include:
-Genetic abnormalities: These can impact a man’s ability to impregnate his female partner, lead to miscarriage or increasing the odds of having a baby with Down Syndrome.
-Erectile dysfunction: This medical condition is the result of diminished testosterone levels for an aging male or as a result of age-related medical conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries moving blood from the heart).
-Undergoing changes in the reproductive tissues or organs: The natural changes that take place over time include diminished testicle volume or having an enlarged prostate that interferes with normal ejaculation.
Treatment for Age-Related Infertility
The good news is that by seeing a fertility specialist, you have an arsenal of tools available.
For women with infertility, we may recommend one or more fertility treatment options best suited to your needs. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves taking fertility medication to boost egg production and transferring your partner’s sperm into your uterus. In vitro fertilization (IVF), involves taking fertility medication, removing your eggs and fertilizing them with your partner’s sperm in an IVF laboratory. Donor egg retrieval involves taking eggs from a healthy donor to be fertilized in the IVF lab with your partner’s sperm so you can then carry the pregnancy.
In men, infertility can be treated with artificial insemination or other assisted reproductive techniques like IVF, or a laboratory procedure called micromanipulation, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Both sperm and eggs are retrieved from both partners. Then, one single sperm is injected into a waiting egg where it will be implanted into the uterus upon fertilization. For men whose semen doesn’t contain sperm, there are various ways to retrieve sperm from their testicles. These treatments are highly successful. For those with poor sperm quality, medication can often be helpful. For men with more complex infertility, our Utah and Idaho Fertility Center offer consultations with Reproductive Urologists to further.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our Reproductive Endocrinologists at Idaho Fertility Center located in Idaho Falls, we welcome you to call 208-529-2019 today!