Your 30s are often called the “new 20s,” and for many women, entering this stage of life is a good thing. Most women say they feel their personal best in their 30s, and after several years of major career accomplishments, are becoming ready to settle down and start families.
While many women still are able to achieve a successful pregnancy during their early to mid-30s, some women are surprised to find that getting pregnant in their third decade of life is a bit trickier than expected. For that reason, many turn to fertility specialists who recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) to assist with conceiving a baby.
Why doctors may recommend IVF for women ages 30-35
According to the Centers for Disease Control, IVF treatment to become pregnant is commonly used by women ages 30 to 35. But because many IVF statistics are split between the age groups of under 35 and older than 35, it can be tough to get a clear picture of just how successful IVF is for women in their early to mid-30s.
For women of this age group, IVF is often recommended for a variety of reasons, including:
Diminished ovarian reserve: The number of eggs each woman has is determined in utero, far before they’ll ever need them. Scientists believe that most women start with around 7 million eggs, with that number dropping to only 300,000 by the beginning of puberty. As the body reabsorbs eggs or loses them to menstruation or pregnancy, this number declines.
Unfortunately, the rate at which eggs are reabsorbed by the body varies per woman, and although the average woman doesn’t reach menopause until close to 50, some women begin having a diminished ovarian reserve (essentially a low number of eggs) at an earlier age, making it more difficult to become pregnant.
Fertility issues related to a partner: Science now understands that infertility isn’t solely a woman’s issue. Many women have partners with their own fertility struggles that can make it difficult to conceive. IVF is a great tool at helping these couples conceive a baby.
Speeding up the chances of conception: As women age, so do their eggs, meaning that the rate of chromosomally abnormal eggs increases over time. For some women approaching their mid to later 30s, or who have a diminished ovarian reserve, the time it takes to get pregnant is important. IVF can help speed up this process so that it’s possible to conceive without spending years trying, and losing precious time.
How successful will IVF be for me?
Because IVF statistics are often reported by age groups, women considering IVF can get an idea of how effective the treatment may be for them. For women between the ages of 30 and 35, this can be tricky, as IVF research results are often reported by the age groups under 35, and over 35. Still, this information can helpful when it comes to determining how successful IVF can be. According to the CDC:
Almost 70 percent of fresh (non-frozen) embryo transfers using donor eggs for women at age 30 lead to successful pregnancies and live births. About 49 percent of transfers using fresh nondonor eggs are successful.
For 31-year-old women, those numbers slightly dip to approximately 65 percent for donor embryo transfers, and 48 percent for fresh nondonor eggs.
By ages 32 to 33, about 63 percent of fresh donor embryo transfers lead to live births, with about 55 to 57 percent of transfers with nondonor eggs resulting in full-term pregnancies.
And for women between the ages of 34 and 35, around 60 percent of fresh donor embryo transfers resulted in full-term pregnancies and births. For nondonor eggs and embryos, that number dropped to around 45 percent.
Overall, CDC data examining the percentage of pregnancies from treatments such as IVF (and those that use fresh, nondonor eggs and embryos) that lead to live births is around 35 percent for 30-year-old women, and less than 30 percent for 35-year-old women.
Numbers for women who use frozen embryos are somewhat similar, though they do vary. Contrary to popular belief that frozen embryos are less successful, research now shows that the use of frozen eggs and embryos in IVF can have just as good outcomes while also helping reduce the cost and invasiveness of IVF.
Using online IVF calculators to predict your odds of pregnancy
Many fertility clinics provide online IVF calculators to estimate your odds of pregnancy, and these tools can be helpful when it comes to getting a better idea of your specific situation. There are a variety of factors that can impact how successful IVF treatment can be for you — such as your personal reproductive health, why you’re using IVF, and age.
When it comes to determining your personal probability of success with IVF, speaking with a reproductive specialist or fertility expert can help you wade through IVF success rates. Together, you can determine if IVF is the best course of treatment in helping you become pregnant.