By on September 12, 2015

PVED enjoys and accepts with open arms guest writers for its blog. This blog is written by one of PVED’s mom’s Diana.

If you’re reading our blog, you’ve probably been considering the possibility that your own eggs might not be able to make a baby. Maybe you’ve had a few failed cycles; maybe more than a few. Or maybe you postponed starting a family, and now you’ve woken up and realized “holy S#IT! I forgot to have kids!!”

In the age of answers for anything at the end of a mouse click, we still tend to be extremely superstitious and prone to magical thinking when it comes to our fertility; we’d rather cling to the story of our neighbor’s sister’s hairdresser, who got pregnant at 42 with one functioning ovary. We’d rather believe some random blog we found on the internet about some woman who dropped her FSH 10 points with daily wheatgrass shots and meditation than rely on hard, scientific data about our chances of conceiving.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology publishes a report each year summarizing the results of all the cycles reported in to them (and not to editorialize off topic, but be wary of clinics who choose not to observe these best-practices guidelines). These are just the facts, ma’am, reported concretely and dispassionately, and they give us an opportunity to make an informed decision based on fact rather than hope and fantasy.

So, not to be a buzz kill, but let’s look at the actual numbers. The most-recent data (for 2013) paints a bleak picture for women over 40: https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=0 If you’ve never delved into this report, the crucial column to look at is “percentage of retrievals resulting in live birth.” Getting pregnant isn’t really the issue; having a baby is. So, for women over age 42, that means that only 5.6% are going to end up with a baby at the end of their journey. And the stats aren’t that much better for women 41-42: only 13.3% of them will take home a baby. Even women 38-40 only have a 24.2% of long-term success.

Said another way, for that over-40 cohort, a whopping 94.4% of the 43+ year olds and 86.7% of those 41-42 WON’T be so lucky. But sadly, in our misplaced optimism and beat-the-odds hopefulness, most of us never face those numbers head on until AFTER we’ve already failed.

It’s not that we want to rain on anyone’s parade. SOMEONE does win the baby lottery and there’s someone in any of those minute success slivers. The question is how much are you willing to spend chasing a sliver’s chance? If we start the honest conversation early, with an unflinching eye on the reality of our chances, can we spare ourselves unnecessary heartache and expense? The only thing worse than failing is failing and also having to pay for that failure for the next 10 years. The odds conversation needs to be part of the overreaching family planning conversation, creating a space for the donor eggs/embryos option to be the realistic consideration it should be for the majority of women over 40 looking to start a family.

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