Group advises women to plan ahead for children

BIOLOGICAL CLOCK::Women have been advised to start families by the age of 37, as fertility treatment for those over the age of 40 can be challenging

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 3

Women are being advised to plan early if they want to have children, as the number and quality of a woman’s ova start to diminish rapidly from the age of 37.

Taiwanese Society of Reproductive Medicine president Huang Hong-yuan (黃泓淵) yesterday said according to the Health Promotion Administration’s data, the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) for women aged 41 to 42 in the country is only about 10 percent.

“Although Taiwan’s assisted reproductive technology has greatly improved, with the live birth rate for women younger than 35 undergoing IVF jumping from lower than 30 percent in 1999 to nearly 40 percent in 2011, the success rate for women aged between 41 and 42 has only improved three percent in the same 12-year period,” Huang said.

Liu Zhi-hong (劉志鴻), a council member of the society, also advised women to give birth before 37 if they plan to have a family, as fertility treatment for those aged 40 and over can be challenging.

Liu also said that even some women aged under 37 might have premature ovarian failure (POF) if their ovaries’ biological age was older than their actual age.

Seven high-risk groups for POF were identified by Liu; those who have had ovarian surgery, have suffered endometriosis, have shorter periods, have a family history of POF, smoke, have had chemotherapy or electrotherapy, or have a relatively low serum anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level, which indicates a level of the number of the remaining follicles in the ovaries.

For women who undergo IVF treatment, Huang said the number of embryos implanted, contrary to what many used to believe, does not affect the IVF success rate.

“As the technology for embryo freezing has advanced, women aged 35 and under now only need to transfer one to two embryos at a time and freeze and preserve the rest for possible future use,” Huang said.

“For women aged 35 and under, the success rate of using thawed ova, which is about 40 percent, is about the same as that of using fresh embryos,” Huang said.

With single or double-embryo implants, the risks of multiple births and pre-term babies with health defects can be lowered as well, Huang said.