Fertility in Older Women

It seems there is hope for women over age 40 when it comes to fertility treatments. A study reports artificial insemination may be a less expensive and somewhat effective treatment in women over 40. The study found women 40 to 42 years old had about the same success rate of pregnancy with intrauterine insemination as women in their late 30s.

In IUI, doctors insert a catheter through the cervix and place sperm directly into the uterus. The lead researchers from Canada say older women are often advised to skip IUI and go straight to in vitro fertilization. However, this study shows women between ages 40 and 42 may want to consider IUI. In a study of more than 1,000 women, the live birth rate for women 36 to 39 years old was 9.5 percent. For women 40 and older, it was 8.5 percent. After age 43, it dropped significantly.

The researchers compared women who underwent IUI naturally with women who had four different combinations of drug stimulation to increase egg production. The doctors write, “There was no difference in live births between any of the stimulation protocols.” The greatest differences, they say, came down to age.

The study investigators point out IUI is only an option for couples without infertility associated with damaged fallopian tubes or male factor causes. They also caution while this study is good news for older women, this group of patients is still at a high risk of miscarriage. The miscarriage rate jumped from 36 percent in women in their early 30s to 53 percent in women over 40.

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