Recently Miriam Zoll wrote a piece for The Atlantic, Pregnant at 60 that explored childbearing after menopause which brings us to the age old question:
“How old is too old to be having a baby?”
There are many opinions all over the board (and the globe) regarding this subject matter. Some individuals feel strongly that after menopause women should not be getting pregnant and bringing children into the world. That it’s not natural. That once our bodies cease menstruating we should take that as a signal from nature to stop our attempt at procreating. Other individuals – especially those who have married later in life, or who haven’t found a partner for whatever reason, who have led busy careers are finding themselves prepared for motherhood later in life – and really who are we to judge who has children and when?
Currently the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issues a statement to its membership stating that those women who are postmenopausal and otherwise healthy between the ages of 50 and 54 should no longer turned away from pursuing pregnancy via egg donation with donor eggs or donor embryos.
Here is their statement:
“The reported success of oocyte donation to women in their 50s and early 60s suggests that pregnancy may be possible in virtually any woman with a normal uterus, regardless of age or the absence of ovaries and ovarian function. A woman’s reproductive age, once a dictate of nature, now can be artificially extended.”
We know that the age cut off for women who want to have children via egg donation around the world is typically 45-50. With this new statement released from ASRM perhaps clinics will now re-evaluate their policies and extend that age to 54?
Across the globe we have read and wondered about the 70 year old woman from India who gave birth to a baby girl. We have heard many stories of women in their late 50’s and well into their 60’s who have successfully conceived via egg donation and gone on to have healthy babies. This leaves many of us in awe in regards to the amazing gift of assisted reproductive technology and others are left with a lot of head scratching.
Marna Gatlin, Founder of Parents Via Egg Donation was quoted as saying “35% of our community is made up of recipient mothers that are 50 and over. 50% of our community are recipient mothers between 40 and 50 and the rest of our community (20%) are those women under 40 years of age”
In 2004 ASRM was quoted as saying ‘Fertility is the norm during reproductive years and infertility should remain the natural characteristic of menopause” which sparked a very animated discussion about the definition of infertility. Can a woman really be considered infertile after menopause?
One can only deduce that ASRM’s change in attitude and policy has a lot to do with our own changing views regarding social norms revolving around child bearing. We know for instance that the delayed age of motherhood is commonplace at present day. We have also known for years and year that men were procreating well into their70’s and 80’s (Tony Randall at age 84 fathered his children). Because we recognize gender equality our question to the masses is why is it widely accepted and okay for men to father children well beyond the age of 65 and for women it’s not okay?
Here in the USA we have no real regulations regarding egg donation or ART. The USA is the “go to” place for those who live in countries like Italy, Germany, Austria, Norway, and South Korea where egg donation is illegal.
Countries like The Czech Republic, India, Israel, Brazil, Australia, Greece, The UK and Canada (as long as donors are not compensated) as well as The Ukraine like the USA have open markets and the fewest restrictions regarding egg donation.
Egg donor cycles in the USA are expensive – really expensive. The norm for an egg donor cycle at a top clinic in the USA can cost intended parents $35,000.00. In the countries listed above that cost is often cut in half.
Our guess is that because ASRM changed its policy older women are going to want to come to the USA which means we will see egg donor cycles continue to climb in the years to come.
As we circle back and ask again – when are we too old to have a baby and start a family? It’s a personal and individual decision for each person. We know there are some 30 year olds who aren’t as healthy as some 50 year olds. Older parents view having children differently than younger parents. When young couples marry having children is for most the next logical step. When we are older we view it as a choice. We don’t feel obligated, pressured, or expected to have children. As an older parent we have planned, prepared, and in many cases waited a long time to have our children. Our hats are off to younger parents who are in their mid-20’s, however, many younger parents don’t have the financial stability, the life experience or patience that accompanies being an older parent.
We at Global IVF don’t necessarily feel there is an expiration on childbearing as we feel that having a child and creating a family is something personal and sacred that should be decided upon individually.