I'm a 39-year-old woman with 4 children. My husband and I are thinking about having another baby and -- because I had my tubes tied -- we're considering in vitro fertilization (IVF). Since our insurance won't cover the procedure, we can probably only afford one round of treatment. What are the odds that one IVF will prove successful for a woman of my age? A.D.
When it comes to the likelihood of successful tubal reversal and in vitro fertilization, the odds are against women your age and older. Fertility drops after age 35 (especially after 38), and delivery rates per IVF cycle started are only about 15% as the 40th birthday nears. This rate is similar to the live birth rate following tubal reversal for a woman of your age.
Before undergoing any treatment for infertility, you should consider a couple of tests to measure your fertility potential. One is called a clomiphene challenge test; the other is a day 3 FSH blood level test. If these test results come back abnormal, the likelihood of successful fertility treatment with your own eggs is even less than noted above. At our center, more than just age determines "success" with IVF, and each couple should undergo a thorough assessment to offer a complete understanding of prognosis and likely outcome.