Starting a family is one of the most common dreams of women all around the world. Modern medicine has not only extended our lifespan as human beings, but has allowed women to wait a little longer before jumping right into the bandwagon of partnership and baby-making. Women are now able to finish school, pursue a career, and travel the world, before starting on the building of family foundations at the age of 35 or even later.
In theory at least.
With the wait has come an increase in fertility complications. Not necessarily infertility, but as women get older, so do their eggs, making it a little more difficult to conceive after a certain age.
Over the last three decades, since the first successful “test tube baby” in 1978, vast leaps have been made in the area of assisted conception. In-vitro fertilization has helped women to extend their child-bearing years, and a recent discovery of a new process has stirred up some controversy in this field. To date, over 5 million babies were born with the help of assisted reproductive technologies.
Sadly, however, IVF success rates are highly determinate on things out of the mother’s control like age, quality of eggs (you can learn a lot about improving egg quality naturally in my bestselling Kindle-book here), and cause of infertility. The average success rate for achieving conception with traditional IVF processes is 29.4%, and the percentage of live births is an average of 22.4%. This can seem like a discouraging number to couples trying to have a baby.
When it comes to egg quality, the age of the mother is the most important factor. The older the egg, the more difficult it is to be fertilized, for a variety of reasons. Poor egg quality could also be partially due to inherited reproductive issues, chronic medical conditions, and even environmental and lifestyle factors.
The biggest issue with waiting to have children is that the eggs lose their “battery life.” The eggs are there from the day women are born, so they are like “flashlights” turned on in the closet when menarche sets in. The flashlight is okay, but the batteries run low. After the age of 36, the light/quality of the egg starts to dim significantly, and by the time a woman reaches 40, the quality of the eggs is so low, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to conceive without assistance of high-tech (or at least high doses of supplements like this).
What if, however, you could have those older eggs “energized” to increase their chances of being fertilized? Then, women may significantly increase the chances of conceiving with them, either with IVF, or even naturally.
AUGMENT method of in-vitro fertilization, developed by OvaScience in Massachusetts and pioneered by Robert Casper, M.D., medical director of the Toronto Centre for Advanced Reproductive Technology, can now help couples who went though several unsuccessful rounds of IVF or ICSI due to poor egg quality. This process involves taking the younger energy-producing cells from the lining of the ovaries and using them to increase the quality of the older eggs.
It’s like the elixir of life for the older eggs. This procedure offers women who have compromised egg quality the opportunity to carry their own biological child without having to use a younger donor’s eggs. By harvesting the younger cells from the lining of their own ovaries an then injecting the mature eggs with these cells, there is a far greater chance of that mature egg being able to become fertilized and being able to adequately separate chromosomes and develop to a healthy embryo.
For now, this treatment is being done in a trial with 60 women who qualify at no cost to them. This trial study should help both OvaScience and the Toronto fertility clinic gain experience in using the procedure before offering it more widely. The procedure is not only being marketed toward women who are currently having trouble conceiving due to poor egg quality, but also to young women who are choosing to postpone child-bearing for a chance to advance their careers and live their lives before dedicating it completely to the building of a family.
So far, the procedure has been a success, but experts in the field are still watching very closely. Unfortunately (or luckily?), there are always critics. Those who are opposed to this new innovative measure state that there is still insufficient data to understand the possible risks to the babies and to the mother.
The energy it takes for an egg to develop into a healthy embryo and align chromosomes during frequent cell divisions is extensive. Energy status of women’s eggs starts to slide irreversibly in the mid-30’s and the mitochondria – energy plants that provide power to each and every cell – weaken and accumulate mutations with age. This means that the older the mother is, the more risk there is that the energy available in her eggs will not suffice to properly separate chromosomes, leading to genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome.
Whether you personally happen to be for or against this new procedure, there is no escaping the understanding that only time will be able tell if this will be a blessing or a curse on the innovative side of reproductive techologies. For now, ladies over 35 and fertility experts are going to be keeping their fingers crossed that this become miraculous discovery that will both increase child-bearing and decrease chances of genetic disorders caused by older eggs.
Supplements which are scientifically proven to increase egg quality
(DHEA, CoQ10, Vitamin D3, Omega-3)
Useful books about fertility and improving egg quality