IVF: Health Experts Decode In Vitro Fertilization, Say Menopause Doesn't Affect This Fertility Procedure

IVF: Health Experts Decode In Vitro Fertilization, Say Menopause Doesn't Affect This Fertility Procedure

To clarify the many thought-provoking questions and doubts associated with IVF and health, we connected with a few health experts who shared insights on the topic.

Swarna SrikanthUpdated: Thursday, February 29, 2024, 05:01 PM IST
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In vitro fertilization, widely known as IVF, has gained more attention since 58-year-old mother of rapper Sidhu Moose Wala, Charan Kaur, recently announced her pregnancy. Noting her age to closely revolve around menopause, people threw light on late pregnancies, risks, and success rate of fertility treatments on social media. To clarify the many thought-provoking questions and doubts associated with IVF and health, we connected with a few health experts who shared insights on the topic. 

What is IVF?

To begin with, one can understand what this process actually means. In Vitro Fertilization is a process that involves fertilising eggs with sperm in a laboratory setting outside of the body. Doctors note that sexual intercourse between partners is not necessary for an IVF as it is carried out with a minor surgical procedure to remove ovarian eggs from a woman's body and then expose them to sperm for fertilisation in a lab. 

Is it safe for both mother and child?

Dr Nisha Bhatnagar, Senior Medical Director at Aveya Fertility claims IVF to be a safe procedure for both the mother and the child and also calls it as an effective method of combating fertility issues and conceiving. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Priyanka Yadav, Consultant Birla Fertility & IVF, Jaipur considers it important not to ignore the potential risks the procedure poses. She says, "It is usually safe, although risks such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome may arise in mothers. Also, children born through IVF may face low birth weight or premature birth,” noting that overall risk remains relatively minimal and can be assisted by health care professionals. 

Discussing IVF and the age factor 

Doctors agree that fertility declines with age due to diminished egg quantity and quality, often necessitating fertility treatments like IVF. They share that most women visiting fertility clinics for IVF are in their mid or late 30s.

The IVF success rate reportedly tends to decline after 35 years of age, as per professionals in the industry.

For women below 35, the success rate is around 40–45%, while for those above 40, it is around 10–13%. However, the possibility of motherhood doesn’t go away. By undergoing tests like the ovarian reserve test, preimplantation genetic test, prolactin test, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, and modification of lifestyle, the process of IVF can become a feasible option.

Importantly, they discuss the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, and lay down the age specifications for IVF to be a woman above 21 years and below 50 years; and a man above 21 years and below 55 years. 

Can we go for IVF after menopause? 

While this may sound strange for people thinking how one can conceive after the reproductive age, it is quite possible for a woman in the phase of menopause to become a mother with IVF. 

Bhatnagar points out that the procedure can be administered even after menopause and says, "Yes, it is possible medically if the uterus is normal.” 

Adding to the point that a woman who has reached menopause can still be a mother, Abhinay Singh, Senior Infertility Specialist, NOVA IVF Hospital, Dehradun, adds, "This is only possible through oocyte/egg donation as all the ovarian reserve in her own body has depleted.” 

While delayed pregnancies come with risks and complications, so is the case with this procedure. Doctors stress the need for a thorough medical evaluation before pursuing IVF after menopause including mental readiness. “The uterus must be evaluated for viability, and hormone replacement therapy must be carried out to prepare the uterine lining,” Yadav notes.

Addressing Infertility for both sexes

When a couple hasn't given birth to a baby for about 2-3 years into their married life, the wife is often blamed and subject to humiliation. There have been several reports addressing this issue predominantly faced in a patriarchal society and putting down that infertility affects both sexes.

The Senior Medical Director at Aveya Fertility states, “One of the common cases we have come across was related to male factor infertility, alongside tubal factor infertility, endometriosis, and lifestyle issues such as obesity, hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise, lack of vitamin D is leading to infertility.

The scenario of IVF in India

"IVF as a healthcare sub-industry is seeing a boom in India and many chains have sprung up," says Singh while adding that there is an overcrowding of IVF clinics in tier 1 and tier 2 cities, tier 3 cities and rural India is vastly under penetrated.

Commenting on the scenario of IVF in India, Bhatnagar expresses there's still a taboo around this. "We've had cases of patients who have had healthy babies through IVF and are recommending our services to others but are hesitant to tell people that they conceived through IVF. We respect their decision and maintain doctor-patient confidentiality, but the country needs to open up and accept fertility treatments. Infertility is not purposeful and the treatments for the same should be embraced without apprehensions."

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