The 40 Year Old (IVF) Virgin

People can be extremely judgmental when it comes to pregnancy and age! Judgmental if they think someone is too young and judgmental if they think someone is too old. As an IVF coordinator, I see patients of ALL ages. The youngest I’ve seen was 19 and the oldest in her early 50’s! (For legal and health reasons our office cut-off for fertility treatments is 55)

Advanced maternal age is the real deal. These ladies have some real obstacles to overcome. Not only is fertility at a steady decline, but if they choose to pursue IVF we also have to retrieve those eggs and hope that they are viable. Due to the low percentage of genetically normal eggs with advancing maternal age, oftentimes the eggs we retrieve with IVF are not viable (or genetically normal) and cannot result in a normal embryo or pregnancy. We suggest PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) just to give these patients the best odds of becoming pregnant without wasting too much time. (Time is precious, yo!)

I had a 40-something patient come in a while ago. She had a child in her mid 30s naturally, but had since had trouble getting pregnant. She knew the odds weren’t in her favor, but she decided to go through her first IVF cycle.

Stimulation for her cycle went well, and she actually had a decent amount of follicles (cysts that house the eggs) for being in her 40’s. The next hurdles were to get viable eggs, fertilization, biopsy for PGS and freeze, followed by a good PGS report!

Eggs – Check!

Fertilization – Check!

Biopsy & Freeze – Check!

Waiting on that PGS report to come back seems like it takes forever, but she had NORMAL embryos! Boy, was I happy for her. If y’all haven’t picked up on it, I get a tremendous amount of joy from my job!

Her embryo transfer came and she BLEW my phone up. I swear she called me everyday to talk about her symptoms; maybe a few times a day. She is HILARIOUS so I actually enjoyed her constant calling!

The dreaded two week wait came—that period after the embryo transfer before a pregnancy hormone level, or HCG level, is done. We ran her level at 10 days post-transfer because she just couldn’t handle the wait and neither could my phone line 🙂 And just like that…she was pregnant! Whoo hoo, another success story!

Her first ultrasound went great! She and her husband were overjoyed to see their little gestational sac looking all sorts of beautiful on the ultrasound monitor. I said my goodbyes and told her I would see her in a week.

Monday came and I saw her slowly mope in from the waiting room with tears running down her face. She told me over the weekend she had gone to the emergency room with bleeding and clotting.

**Side note: Alway call your REI first. We have a 24 hour nurse on call for situations like this. You should check with your office to see if they offer that as well**

She didn’t call us because she said she was too frantic. The ER didn’t offer her an ultrasound; they only did blood work to check her HCG level (which didn’t ease her nerves much).

Although I was slightly nervous after hearing about the clotting, I told her to keep the faith until we confirmed how things looked on the ultrasound. Remember spotting is common after IVF and embryo transfer. Not gonna lie, though, I do get more anxious when it is bright red bleeding/clotting.

Thank ya JESUS everything was fine, and I can happily report everything has been great since! She is such a ray of sunshine, and I couldn’t be happier for her to add another little baby sunshine to the world 🙂

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Words of advice from the Funny Girls of Fertility…

If you find yourself in a similar situation as the patient above by experiencing bleeding or spotting after IVF and embryo transfer and your are worried, always call your fertility office and get advice for what you should do next. Most offices will have an on-call nurse that can help you or get you to the doctor on call. But most importantly, try to stay calm (much easier said then done!).

For those who are new to the IVF game my advice is to be STAY OFF THE INTERNET! Google can be your worst enemy!

Finally, for women who are of advanced maternal age, you may have a few more obstacles to overcome, but it is possible to overcome them! Dealing with infertility requires patience, persistence, and a whole lot of positivity. Going into treatment with an open heart and open mind can be helpful during the process. Be realistic in knowing that in may take a little longer that you expect. It won’t be the easiest life experience, but in the end it will hopefully be well worth it!