IVF for women over 40 is not as uncommon as you might think. Many fertility clinics abroad have established excellent track records offering techniques and protocols for women who have diminished or no ovarian reserve due to their age. IVF at 40 does not represent ‘desperation’ or the ‘last throw of the dice’; today, IVF at 41, 43, or at 45 is achievable due to advances in the procedure, technologies, and knowledge offered by health centers that are extremely experienced in offering IVF cycles to women in their mid-forties.
If you are over 40, dreaming about having a child or trying for a sibling and considering undergoing IVF, this article will help you learn more about the best IVF clinics in the world and in Europe, their success rates, and more. Start your journey here.
IVF at 40 – success rates
The number of women seeking fertility treatment at the age of 40 and above is rising. There are many reasons for this including previous failed IVF attempts, a poor prognosis of natural conception due to advancing age, decisions delayed due to a career or lack of a partner or because of the realization that menopause might be imminent. It is also estimated that one in three women aged between 40 and 44 experience some form of infertility.
The chances of conceiving naturally decline with a woman’s age. A woman is born with a finite number of eggs and as she ages so do the eggs; estimates suggest that by the age of 40 women have a mere 5% chance of achieving a pregnancy. However, one should not assume that IVF at 40 is a cure-all – the chances of IVF working at 40 are lower than IVF working at 30. IVF success rate at 40 is only increased substantially with treatments involving donor eggs or embryos.
The average success rate per cycle for women over 40 with IVF is approximately 9% – whilst this chance is lower than the percentage for younger patients. IVF for women over 40 represents one of the best options for those seeking to become pregnant. When women over 40 access treatment involving donor eggs or embryos the success rate jumps to 50-60%.
IVF at 40 – indications and contraindications
Do egg donation treatments represent the best possible chances of IVF working at 40 but is the treatment safe after 40? There are, of course, risks as with any other age but these risks are more acute as we get older. There are, however, a number of procedures that are performed by infertility clinics that attempt to mitigate any risks.
When searching for an appropriate clinic to undergo treatment you should seek their success rates in treating patients older than 40. Consider carefully those infertility clinics that offer multiple transfers – these treatments which can result in multiple pregnancies can cause serious problems for both the mother and baby.
If you are over 40 and are using your own eggs for treatment, ensure your chosen clinic offers the best IVF protocol including the use of time-lapse embryo monitoring which may identify any genetic abnormalities in embryos that older patients are more likely to have. To reinforce this, access to Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) which offers genetic profiling of embryos prior to implantation will also provide an opportunity to ensure any embryos do not carry any genetic abnormalities.
IVF over 40 – success tips
Prior to starting your treatment at the infertility clinic, there are a number of things that can improve your chances of success. After the age of 35 women are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, therefore, it might be advisable to get a general health check prior to starting any treatment, and remember that BMI can influence the success of IVF treatment. Equally, as we age we are more prone to heart disease and cancer, so ensure you talk to your ob/gyn consultant and where possible have a mammogram before treatment to lower risks.
IVF or IUI at 40?
The chances of IVF working at 40 through intrauterine insemination (IUI) are, on average, around 5% compared to IVF at around 9%.
If your fertility problem is a result of blocked fallopian tubes, low egg viability or number, severe endometriosis or your partner experiences male factor infertility, IUI is not an appropriate treatment. As an older patient at 40 or over you may, as a matter of course, be advised against IUI because of your egg reserve.
IVF with own or donor eggs at 40
Each patient is different, and it will be up to your personal ob/gyn specialist to suggest which mode of treatment is better for you and the chances of success using your own eggs compared to donor eggs. However, statistics point to the fact that success ratios increase exponentially when women over 40 use donor eggs.
The figures speak for themselves – own egg treatments undertaken by women aged 40 and above would likely lead to an average 9 – 10% per cycle success rates which climb to 50 – 60% when donor eggs are used.
Fresh vs frozen IVF at over 40
When you are receiving treatment with donor eggs, you may be offered fresh or frozen gametes. Most clinics would suggest that the success rates for using either are broadly similar but the decision to use one over the other may be a logistical one i.e., it is easier to book a fixed date for a transfer procedure using frozen eggs than having to rely on reacting to a retrieval date which might not be fixed. When you are travelling for treatment , time is often very important – the cost of using frozen eggs will often be cheaper as there are less medication costs involved in the procedures.
How to prepare for IVF at 40?
If you are aged 40 or above there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. Many of these things should be undertaken by anyone regardless of age, prior to IVF treatment. However, there are a number of additional steps that you can take as an older patient.
First of all, get an initial fertility and general health check; ideally from an independent ob/gyn, infertility specialist and/or General Practitioner. A successful IVF procedure at any age requires patients to be generally healthy. But as you get older, you are more vulnerable to certain conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Keep an eye on your lifestyle and where necessary modify or change, to improve the chances of getting pregnant. This might include reducing your alcohol consumption, taking more exercise and keeping an eye on your weight.
Aside from your physical health, be mindful of your mental health. Where necessary consult a fertility coach or counselor who will help to ensure any decision you make is an informed one and that you are mentally prepared for the treatment you are planning.
Finally, do your research. There are multiple treatment providers who claim high IVF success rates for those over 40. Take your time before you decide on an appropriate treatment or destination. Ask treatment providers for their specific success rates for patients of your age; ensure the statistics they provide are transparent and easily understood. Book an appointment to speak to the team who will be responsible for your care; ask about what support the clinic provides; seek feedback from patients who have been treated at the clinic and obtain clear details of costs before you decide anything.
Preparing for IVF at 40 can be daunting but with the right preparation, you can make the journey much easier.
Best IVF clinics in Europe for patients over 40
What criteria are used to identify the best IVF clinic in Europe for over 40-year-olds? Well, success rates obviously play a part alongside cost and available donors. If you are aged up to 50 most European countries will have a wide variety of clinics to choose from and the most popular destinations match those which are preferred by younger patients. Subsequently, clinics in Spain, the Czech Republic, and Greece are very popular and are home to some of the most well-established clinics in the world.
As the majority of women will be seeking donor treatment, you will need to invest some time in reviewing the legal framework of different destinations (i.e., is donor treatment legal; is donor treatment only available to married, heterosexual couples, and so on).
IVF Abroad – restrictions and donors’ availability
Best IVF clinics in the world for women 40+
If we consider the best clinics by success, there are not huge disparities between advanced nations – you are likely to notice the difference in price, the levels of support offered, donor availability and donor choice.
For example, IVF clinics in the United States are often viewed as some of the best in the world but their reputation comes at a price, and it is a hefty one. However, if you are seeking to choose a specific donor from an extremely wide pool of prospective donors it is probably one of the best places to travel to.
Similarly, the UK offers an IVF service for older women (there is no legal ceiling applied to the maximum age of women patients) which is based on quality and backed by a comprehensive framework to safeguard the rights and safety of patients. But it is also expensive compared to some European countries and does not provide access to large numbers of donors.
Once again the best IVF clinics in the world are the ones that can satisfy your specific needs. There is plenty of choices so the advice is to shop around.
IVF at 40 – wrap up
IVF at 40 is becoming a real consideration for increasing numbers of women. Whilst IVF success rates are lower for patients over 40, the chances of getting pregnant via an IVF procedure is greater than trying for a natural conception. Using donor eggs or embryos significantly increases success rates and there are infertility clinics that will offer bespoke treatment packages for older patients. There are more potential risks associated with IVF over 40, so if you are considering treatment ensure you have all the necessary health checks prior to starting your treatment.
What are the chances IVF will work for women over 40?
It is estimated that a woman over 40 using her own eggs will have a likely success rate of around 9%. This increase to between 50 and 60% if you are using donor eggs or embryos.
Is natural pregnancy possible after failed IVF at 40?
It is possible and will depend on your general and fertility health. We are all aware that fertility diminishes as we get older, and by the time you reach your 40s your chances of achieving a natural pregnancy falls to around 5%.
Should I choose IVF with fresh or frozen eggs at 40?
There has been much debate about the relative merits of fresh over frozen eggs and vice versa. The ultimate decision about which to choose will depend on the clinic you attend and your flexibility in terms of your availability. Another consideration is cost – choosing frozen eggs will be cheaper than using fresh as the amount of medication required is lower.
Can I have 1st-time success via IVF at 40?
Yes, you can achieve 1st-time success via IVF at 40 – it is certainly possible but these chances do increase substantially when you choose to have treatment using donor eggs or embryos.
Table of Contents
- 1 IVF at 40 – success rates
- 2 IVF at 40 – indications and contraindications
- 3 IVF or IUI at 40?
- 4 IVF with own or donor eggs at 40
- 5 Fresh vs frozen IVF at over 40
- 6 How to prepare for IVF at 40?
- 7 Best IVF clinics in Europe for patients over 40
- 8 Best IVF clinics in the world for women 40+
- 9 IVF at 40 – wrap up
- 10 FAQs