|ASK THE EXPERTS|
I’m turning 40 this year. Am I too old to have a baby?
Chief, Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility Karol Chacho, MD, responds:
We’re living in a time when looking and feeling like a more youthful version of ourselves is not only possible, it’s easy. Eating a balanced diet, exercising and getting plenty of rest— along with hair dye, skin injections, and non-surgical and surgical procedures—can help us preserve our appearance.
Yet, while we can keep our outsides looking young, our internal systems continue to age. Women delay pregnancy for many personal reasons (relationships, finances, careers, etc.). And with so many celebrities having babies into their 40s, non-celebrity couples may forget that waiting to conceive “later” in life may take some assistance from a fertility specialist.
Many of my patients wonder if they are “too old” to get pregnant. As we know, a woman’s eggs have been with her for her entire life—and eggs don’t age well. In addition, there are more health risks as women increase in age. The general response is that it may take longer for women over age 35 to conceive, so it is important to talk to your physician if you have not conceived within six months.
Looking forward to getting pregnant in a few years’ time? Click here for Dr. Chacho’s recommendations.
We’ve been trying to get pregnant for a few months. At what point should I see a fertility specialist?
Reproductive Endocrinologist Andrew Levi, MD, responds:
In general, couples should seek help from a fertility specialist if they have not been able to conceive after 12 months of discontinuing contraception. If the female partner is over age 35, she should seek assistance after six months. Women with a history of irregular periods, multiple pregnancy losses or known factors that could affect fertility should seek the care of a specialist sooner rather than later. If the male partner has a suspected fertility issue, he should also consult with a specialist sooner rather than later.
Fertility testing for women usually focuses on hormonal and ovulation issues. Other tests can confirm that the fallopian tubes are open and that the uterus is functioning normally. Testing can also assess a woman’s ovarian function and ovarian reserve.
Male factor infertility accounts for about half of all infertility problems. A semen analysis is typically performed early in a couple’s evaluation. Sometimes referral to an urologist may be helpful if the semen analysis is abnormal.
A treatment plan is based on a patient’s diagnosis, age and duration of infertility. Treatments may include medication, treatmentwith intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and/or surgery.
Most importantly, a couple should seek the care of an experienced, board-certified fertility specialist who will efficiently and appropriately evaluate a couple, educate them regarding appropriate treatment options and be there to support and encourage them every step of the way.
Click here for Dr. Levi’s answers to frequently asked fertility questions.