Fertility and Aging

By
Shannon M. Clark, MD
|
February 18, 2022
Fertility and Aging

Delaying childbearing is becoming a "new norm"

It’s no secret that it’s becoming more and more common for people to wait until they are in their 30s or 40s to have children. For a variety of reasons, many people are choosing to wait to have children. I was part of that group and so was my friend, fertility specialist Dr. Lucky Sekhon!

Dr. Sekhon is a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist based in New York. Like myself, she waited to have children while pursuing her medical career goals. She then went through fertility treatment to conceive, and she is now passionate about sharing reproductive health and empowering individuals with evidenced-based information on their fertility. She does this primarily through her work as a REI specialist, and also on her blog, The Lucky Egg.

Learn about fertility and aging from an REI specialist!

Recently, I sat down with her to answer questions about fertility that were submitted by our social media followers. This Q&A is filled with so many great topics, including the following:

  • Getting pregnant spontaneously after age 35
  • HSG to evaluate fallopian tubes and the uterine cavity
  • Shared egg donation vs dedicated egg donor
  • AMH
  • At home fertility testing
  • AVA bracelets and natural fertility monitors
  • Over age 40 and chances of conception
  • Uterine anomalies and fertility
  • When to freeze eggs
  • Egg vs embryo freezing
  • Platelet-rich plasma and other methods to improve egg quality
  • MTHFR gene variants and pregnancy loss

Fertility Q&A

Egg quality and quantity

Many already know that the odds of having a spontaneous conception or conceiving without assisted reproductive technology decrease as one gets older. This is directly related to the quality and quantity of eggs that are affected with aging, despite how healthy an individual might be. There’s no direct way to test egg quality, but we know that it changes rapidly over the age of 35 and especially over the age of 40.

Consider egg/embryo freezing

I was pursuing my medical career for 15+ years, then married at the age of 39 and started trying to start a family at age 40. My advice to anyone is the earlier you discuss your fertility with a doctor, the better, especially if egg freezing is an option for you.

If you are on a career path or any point of life where you think you might delay starting a family, egg freezing is a great option. As I discussed with Dr. Sekhon at minute 33:00, the younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the better. It might surprise you to know that the uterus doesn’t age in the same way that the ovaries do, so you always have the ability to utilize any frozen eggs or embryos. The age you were when you froze your eggs and the amount of eggs frozen are key. The younger you are, the more confident you can feel about the possible success rate of using the frozen eggs or embryos in the future.

I recommend that as you approach that 35 year age mark, talk to a medical professional about egg freezing maybe once, twice, even three times because it is such a great way to preserve fertility. At minute 36:00, we discuss choosing egg versus embryo freezing. Dr. Sekhon also has a great blog article on this which you can find here.

Regular menstrual cycles are a must!

Another reason to reach out to a medical professional is if you are trying to or are planning to conceive, you are reaching age 35 and you are not having regular menstrual cycles. The change or gradual change of menstruation can impact fertility or indicate an underlying medical condition that could impact current or future fertility.

Learn more from Dr. Sekhon!

You can also learn more from  Dr. Sekohn in this additional conversation we had, and also on her blog, The Lucky Egg.

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Follow Shannon on TikTok @tiktokbabydoc, Facebook @babiesafter35, and Instagram @babiesafter35.

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