Hello. I just turned 40 years old. I am healthy. I had 1 miscarriage in my early 30s. I waited a few years to conceive after that and conceived two children back to back in the first month of trying so I am hoping my fertility is still good. Obviously Im reproductively old and there is an issue of egg quality. Is it always better to try to conceive naturally. We are worried about chromosomal disorders. I had testing done at a fertility clinic. My AFC was 14, my FSH was 6 point something and my AMH was 5 point something. Can you help me interpret this? Again, is it always better to try to conceive naturally? Thanks!!! S. from the U.S.
Hello S. from the U.S.,
Having had children previously does extend your fertility in my opinion so although you are “reproductively old”, you may still be quite fertile.
The tests mentioned, AFC, FSH and AMH are all INDIRECT measures of ovarian function and NOT fertility or egg quality. They give us an idea of how well the ovaries will respond to stimulation, which statistically can increase or decrease your chances of success. In older women, the more eggs you get in an IVF cycle, the higher the chances of finding a good egg because there are fewer good eggs with increasing age. That is all that those tests reveal.
In terms of what may be the best way to get pregnant, certainly trying natural has significant advantages: it is more fun and pleasurable, it costs less. The disadvantages are: there is an increased risk of genetic disorders (based on your age), it may not work, and there is a higher risk of miscarriage. So, in terms of whether to try naturally or go with a technological means, it depends completely on your personal preference and goals. Unless you want to do something like genetic testing of embryos for normality or sex selection or want to increase your chance of pregnancy in the shortest possible period, then I would recommend that you try naturally for at least 6 months. If not successful by that point, then I would recommend that you consider proceeding directly to IVF, which is the recommendation if you say yes to either of the previous criteria. The downsides of IVF are: cost, not fun, unnatural and it’s a medical procedure. The upside is it is more efficient (higher chance of pregnancy per attempt, you can genetically test the embryos to minimize the risk of miscarriage or genetically abnormal child and you can achieve pregnancy faster. Because your ovarian testing is so good (more like a 20 year old), you are a very good candidate for IVF and I would probably give you a high chance of success per attempt (50-60%) in a good IVF center.
Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.