Fertility Drop-Off Surprises Women Over 40

by Karen Rowan - Managing Editor ,  My Health News Daily | 2012-12-17

Nearly half of women who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) after age 40 say they were "shocked" to discover they needed fertility treatments, a new study finds.

In the study, the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco interviewed women from 61 families — including heterosexual couples, lesbian couples and single women — who conceived and delivered children via IVF after age 40. The interviews were done between 2009 and 2011.

"We found that women did not have a clear understanding of the age at which fertility begins to decline," the researchers wrote in their study, published online Nov. 30 in the journal Human Reproduction. Most women thought their fertility would last longer than it did. For instance, 31 percent said they expected to get pregnant without difficulty at age 40.

"Very few participants had considered the possibility that they would need IVF, and 44 percent reported being ‘shocked’ and ‘alarmed’ to discover that their understandings of the rapidity of age-related reproductive decline were inaccurate," the researchers wrote.