Many of us are aware of the impact of increasing maternal age on the ovaries, however, does our Uterus and its capacity to bear a child decrease with age?
What is the impact of increasing maternal age on Uterus?
In general, muscle and connective tissue weakens with an increase in age. In case of uterus, this is exaggerated once estrogen and progesterone hormones start falling, which happens in peri-menopausal age (Around 40 years of age or older). Average age of menopause for Indian women is around 46 Years.
Once menopause sets in the uterus becomes small in size and remains so with a thin endometrium and no menstrual cycles.
Therefore it would be reasonable to say that with an increase in age, the ability of the uterus to bear pregnancy reduces.
Can a woman become pregnant after menopause or after menses stop ?
Cyclical estrogen and progesterone can be given which mimics natural hormonal cycles in a woman. This can cause menstrual cycles to re-start in someone who has undergone menopause.
It is very commonly done for women who have Pre mature ovarian failure.
It is also employed in menopausal women who wish to become surrogate mothers for their daughters. One such case has been mentioned in the link below:
So, to summarize, with hormone therapy, a woman can become pregnant even after her menstrual cycles have stopped. IVF when done in menopausal women involves both Hormone therapy and Oocyte Donation.
Does implantation rate of embryo change with age?
Whether the embryo implants and progresses into a viable pregnancy is to do more with the genetic makeup of the embryo than the age of the uterus. Many Studies have proven without doubt that the greatest impact of maternal age is on the genetic status of the oocyte and hence the resultant embryo and NOT on the uterus itself. However problems with the uterine cavity due to uterine polyp, adenomyoma, fibroid, scar tissue etc do cause reduced implantation rate.
In short as compared to the ovaries, Uterus ages at a slower rate.
What is the maximum age upto which I can think of pregnancy?
There is no law that states a maximum age upto which a woman can undergo pregnancy. However the ART (Assisted Reproduction Technique) guideline in India does mention an upper limit of 55 for females wishing to undergo treatment for achieving pregnancy.
Before planning pregnancy through assisted reproduction techniques like IVF, females of advance maternal age should understand that there are many risks associated with pregnancy at an advanced age and general medical health and fitness levels should always be assessed before commencing pregnancy in such cases. There is also sufficient evidence proving that pregnancy complication rates are much higher in post menopausal group when compared with the younger age group and therefore a thorough discussion with your fertility specialist is a must if you intend to try conception after menopause.
According to Dr. Gajendra Tomar (Infertility & IVF Specialist at Indore Infertility Clinic, Indore, India), parenthood is not just about pregnancy and childbirth, it is about nurturing and caring for the child until they are old enough to tackle the world themselves.
We are the best judge of our emotional, physical, financial and social health. If one thinks that they are capable of handling parenthood at a particular age, then they can always take help from Infertility Specialist in achieving parenthood.