4 things every woman in her 20s needs to know about IVF

In a recent survey, roughly 2/3 of millennials said they thought that science was good enough that they didn’t have to worry about infertility because they’d still be able to get pregnant.

If you think IVF is an option you’ll consider 10-15 down the line there are things you should do and know now.

1. Older eggs have a significantly lower chance of fertilization


By the time a girl hits puberty she has about 300,000 eggs, more or less, and with each year this number diminishes.  In 2010 the IVF success rates were 32.2 percent for women under 35 and 1.9 percent for a woman over 40. Even without IVF, a healthy 40-year-old woman has a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant each menstrual cycle while a 30-year-old woman has a 20 percent chance, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

You can get the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Blood Test to check your egg reserve early on to see the number of eggs you have remaining to help you think about what steps you may want to take.

2. Your lifestyle now can affect your chances of getting pregnant down the line


Chronic stress, drinking alcohol and eating poorly and not exercising can affect your fertility but one of the biggest threats to conceiving is smoking.

According to the ASRM, infertility rates are twice as high among smokers than nonsmokers and tend to have fewer eggs for retrieval. Even with IVF, the pregnancy rate for smokers drops by 30 percent.

3. The likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities increases with age


At age 23, one in every two eggs is healthy, by age 35 it’s one in five and by 40 it’s one in ten. The older the egg, the more eggs are needed to have one without abnormalities.  Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) tests for more than 100 different genetic conditions (and yes, it also reveals the sex of the embryos).

4. Freezing embryos increases the success rate versus freezing eggs


Egg freezing has become a popular option in the last few years (Apple and Facebook cover it in their health plans) most commonly used among women in their thirties. A recent report showed that the live birthrates per embryo transferred were 56.1 percent for embryos made with fresh donor eggs and 47.1 percent for those made with frozen donor eggs.

That said, because the frozen eggs came from women in their thirties and donor eggs are usually from women in their twenties it’s likely the age of the egg was also a factor.

On the other hand, researchers in the UK found that babies born from frozen IVF embryos were healthier than fresh embryos.

It’s definitely pricey (egg retrieval is roughly $10-15, 000) but if possible it’s better to freeze your eggs (or embryos) before you hit 30. They can be stored for up to a decade.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of different factors that can affect your fertility and the most important thing to take away from this is that the earlier you start to learn about your health and fertility, the better.

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