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6 Ways Age and Obesity Can Affect IVF Success

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Infertility is an increasingly common problem nowadays and undergoing fertility treatments like IVF are the only chance at conceiving a child for many infertility patients. Thanks to technological and medical advances and rapid research on fertility issues, around 1% of babies worldwide are now conceived with the help of assisted reproductive technologies.

While IVF is one of the most effective fertility treatments today, there are a number of factors that determine its success. As the age of a woman increases, her fertility drops and so does her chance of successfully conceiving after an IVF cycle. Obesity is another significant factor that can seriously influence the success of an IVF procedure. Here are 5 ways in which age and obesity can affect how your body responds to your IVF treatment.

1. Age can affect success rates of IVF with the patient’s own eggs.

IVF usually produces a high success rate of 60-65% for healthy women between the ages of 24 and 35. However, age can directly lead to difficulties in conception through IVF because of the rapid decline in fertility after the age of 35. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs fall sharply with age. So, it becomes more difficult to retrieve eggs from the patient that are healthy and viable and use them to produce healthy embryos through IVF.

2. Age can determine IVF treatment costs and number of cycles needed.

After assessing a woman’s fertility levels and medical history, the doctor prescribes an intensive course of medications and injections to stimulate her ovaries and produce multiple eggs for IVF. The gonadotropins and fertility drugs used in an IVF cycle, like hCG, hMG, and FSH, form a major part of the treatment expenses and older women need more medication to stimulate sufficient ovulation. Age can also determine how quickly you conceive. So, older women may need multiple IVF cycles to successfully get pregnant.

3. The success of IVF treatment may depend on the age of the male partner as well.

In a study of almost 19,000 IVF cycles, a decline in success rates was found with increasing age of the male partner. Though male fertility lasts much longer than female fertility, sperm quality starts to drop after around 55 years. Health conditions like hypertension and diabetes also affect male potency and can hinder success through IVF using the partner’s own sperm.

4. Obesity also hinders successful IVF with one’s own eggs.

Studies have found that obesity can result in poor egg quality. Women with PCOS are often overweight and the hormonal imbalances caused adversely affect follicle and egg development. Obese women may face difficulties in conceiving successfully through IVF with their own eggs. They may also need different doses of fertility drugs to make sure that their eggs mature at the right time for retrieval.

5. Obesity affects the uterine lining and embryo implantation.

According to research, overweight women who underwent egg donation IVF suffered from a 23% lower implantation rate than normal weight recipients. The uterine lining in obese women is often found to be less receptive and this can cause serious difficulties in successful conception through IVF treatment. Hormonal imbalances linked with PCOS or triggered by obesity may be responsible for poor endometrial development.

6. Obesity increases chances of miscarriage and pregnancy-related complications after IVF.

Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure or preeclampsia during pregnancy, and causing premature labor, surgically assisted deliveries, stillbirth, and even neonatal death. According to a study of more than 400 women undergoing IVF, women with a BMI higher than or equal to 25 carried more than double the risk of miscarriage as compared to women with normal BMI.

IVF holds a lot of promise for couples struggling with serious fertility problems. But age and obesity can create many obstacles and difficulties in your infertility journey. So you should maximize your chances of achieving pregnancy through IVF treatment by being aware of the factors that hinder its success.