Last Updated on September 24, 2021
For many, the possibility of getting pregnant after a certain age seems unattainable. However, pregnancy after 40 is possible for some women, whether naturally or assisted with a treatment like IVF. The IVF success rates over 40 with own eggs do drop pretty significantly, but success shouldn’t be ruled out entirely.
What factors affect IVF success rates over 40?
Women 40 and over encounter lower success rates in regards to all fertility treatments, including IVF. In short, IVF success rates over 40 with own eggs are significantly different from success rates under 40. However, certain factors change the success rates.
Over the age of 40, birth rates steadily and rapidly decline, on average. To put things in perspective, in 2014, the live birth rate for patients age 40 with own eggs was 16%. At age 43, the live birth rate dropped to 5%. Over 44, the live birth rate dropped further still, to 1%. At the same time, some clinics have much higher rates than these; they are specialty clinics with specific programs for this age group.
What makes IVF success rates over 40 with own eggs lower than average?
Many people ask questions related to why IVF success rates over 40 are lower than the success rates for younger women. To answer them, we have to consider what makes IVF successful in the first place.
IVF success with own eggs depends on fairly good numbers of healthy, viable eggs. In other words, both egg quality and egg quantity matter. As women age, both of those factors get impacted. Fewer eggs develop, and of them, fewer eggs are of excellent quality.
According to some experts, one of the primary ways age impacts egg quality relates to chromosomes. Eggs with an abnormal number of chromosomes lead to failed IVF transfer. As women age, the potential for an abnormality in chromosomes increases very steadily. “At age 30 about 30% of eggs are chromosomally abnormal. By age 40 about 60% are abnormal and by 44 years old 90% are abnormal.” (Advanced Fertility).
Thus, due to the likelihood of a lack of viable eggs, IVF success rates over 40 with own eggs drop and continue to decline the older a woman gets.
Donor Eggs vs Own Eggs & IVF Success Rates Over 40
While all of the above information is true regarding own eggs, it isn’t true when it comes to IVF success with donor eggs.
Women over 40 who use IVF to become pregnant stand a very good chance of success if they use donor eggs. The live birth rates for women using donor eggs vary only slightly between the ages of 30 and 47. This means that when women over 40 use donor eggs, their chances of success remain largely the same, barring other factors.
A woman in her 30s using donor eggs has almost the same likelihood of IVF success as a woman in her 40s who uses donor eggs.
This information shows even more clearly that the cause of the decline in IVF success rates over 40 is almost solely to do with donor eggs. A woman’s ability to carry and deliver a baby over 40 isn’t much different than a younger woman’s ability. The difference has to do with egg quality and quantity. That’s why fertility specialists recommend IVF with donor eggs when a woman is age 40 or older.
Experts believe that while the age of the eggs matter, the age of the uterus doesn’t. At least, it has very little to do with IVF success rates over 40 with donor eggs.
When choosing a donor for eggs, women should choose a woman that is younger and with few health issues. IVF success depends so much on healthy, viable eggs, that whoever you choose to donate eggs for the procedure should be in optimal health and age.
How to Increase IVF Success Rates Over 40
Some IVF clinics specialize in IVF after 40 and provide women with tips and information to increase the IVF success rate. They say that is a number of things women and their doctors can do to increase the chance of success.
Choose Donor Eggs
To significantly increase IVF success rates over 40, consider using donor eggs. As previously described, donor eggs from healthy, younger women generally lead to better success. If you remain open to the possibility, your chances of success go up.
Donor eggs increase the chances of success by upwards of 70 percent in some cases. The difficulty in choosing egg donation lies in the emotional attachment many people have to the dream of a biological child. Choosing donor eggs can be difficult for many people. For those who’ve struggled for many years to conceive, it is sometimes the only option.
If a woman is over 42, the likelihood of pregnancy with own eggs sharply declines. Also, note that many IVF clinics limit the age for treatment to 45, after which a patient must choose donor eggs. This is because the chance of success using a woman’s own eggs after 45 is 1% or less.
Consider Mini IVF Procedures
Some patients choose Mini-IVF, a procedure that requires a smaller amount of fertility medication and aims to produce one to three viable, healthy eggs. Some experts believe Mini-IVF improves IVF success rates over 40 because of mini-IVF results in better-quality eggs and embryos. Regardless, the reduced cost of the treatment can be beneficial.
Supplement with DHEA
Though it is not talked about often, DHEA supplementation provides several potential benefits that increase chances of success over 40. Benefits include better and more eggs, higher rates of natural pregnancy, fewer miscarriages, more successful IVF cycles, and a smaller chance of chromosomal abnormality.
Some IVF clinics suggest that DHEA supplementation could potentially eliminate the need to use donor eggs for some women.
Opt for Earlier Egg Retrieval
Retrieving eggs earlier in women over 40 improves the chances of positive outcomes and IVF success rate. Some IVF clinics state that, sometimes, eggs in women mature too quickly. As a result, by the time fertility specialists retrieve the eggs, they are not viable or healthy because they have matured too much. So, the clinic suggests that doctors working with women closely monitor the ovarian cycle in order to better control the timing.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Some fertility specialists suggest that making appropriate lifestyle choices improves IVF success over 40 with own eggs or donor eggs. Changes in diet, smoking habits, and weight loss can have an impact. Cutting smoking, for example, dramatically improves the odds of success. Women who smoke require twice the number of IVF treatments. Additionally, smokers need to take more fertility drugs than non-smokers and experience more failed implantation cycles.
Suggested lifestyle habit changes include:
- Quit smoking at least 3 months before fertility treatment
- Lose weight, if you are overweight (may increase chances of success)
- Exercise regularly
- If you’re underweight, seek help getting to a normal weight range
- Take supplements
- Cut excess sugar or unhealthy food out of your diet
Choose a Specialty IVF Clinic for Over 40
Successful IVF involves choosing a clinic that specializes in pregnancy. These best IVF clinics for over 40 typically have much higher success rates. In all likelihood, the clinic’s team does a good job of screening patients before making IVF attempts. The team probably spends a great deal of time determining which fertility diagnoses have the best possible IVF success rate.
Clinics with older pregnancy specialties are also likely more equipped, and knowledgeable about treatments specific to that age group.
Some clinics have an IVF success rate of 60% or higher for older women. If a clinic’s success rate in the demographic is very low, keep searching for a clinic with better outcomes. Many reputable clinics publish this information online. If not, you can research it in the IVF success rates table.
Some clinics specialize in IVF treatments in older women because the procedures and practices require special attention. Fertility specialists may also recommend certain IVF treatments with higher chances of success in older patients.
Get Help Sooner
Women over 40 who are experiencing fertility challenges need to seek help as soon as possible. Age does matter when it comes to pregnancy. Even if a couple is unsure about whether or not IVF is right for them, sooner is better than later in these cases.
Experts suggest that after IVF three or four months with no successful pregnancy, you should get a consultation or consider fertility testing. This includes hormone testing for egg equality and potential early menopause.
Set up a consultation with a high success rate IVF clinic in your area that specializes in pregnancy over 40.
IVF Success Rate Over 40 with Own Eggs by Clinic
*The following IVF success rate reports are base on the latest CDC data published in April 2021 (Preliminary 2019 Data) with 20 or more transfers.
IVF Success Rates over 40 with own eggs (nondonor eggs)
|Clinic Name||Live Births > 40||Singleton Live Births at 41-42||Total Transfers at 41-42|
|COLORADO CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE||62.0||54.4||79|
|CAROLINAS FERTILITY INSTITUTE||58.3||58.3||24|
|REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE CENTER OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA||57.9||57.9||57|
|NEW DIRECTION FERTILITY CENTERS||56.5||56.5||23|
|REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE ASSOCIATES OF CONNECTICUT||52.8||50.0||36|
|REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE ASSOCIATES OF NEW JERSEY||51.4||50.0||140|
|NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FERTILITY MEDICAL CENTER||50.0||50.0||24|
|CALIFORNIA FERTILITY PARTNERS||48.3||48.3||29|
|FERTILITY SPECIALISTS OF TEXAS, PLLC||45.0||40.0||20|
|COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FERTILITY CENTER||44.4||44.4||54|
|Avg = 52.7||Avg = 51.0||Avg = 48.6|