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Women's Fertility Drops 'Almost To Zero' After Age 43

Armen Hareyan's picture

Woman and Fertility

By her 43rd birthday, a woman's eggs are less efficient at being fertilized, they miscarry at a much higher rate, and the probability of her having children falls almost to zero.

In fact, the number of eggs a woman is born with decreases dramatically at age 35, said Dr. John Buster, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

Teresa Briggs came to see Buster at age 40. She had waited to marry, and she wanted to have children with her new husband.

"After we tried for a year, I really began to become discouraged," she said. "The reality began to sink in that maybe we won't have kids."

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At 41, Briggs decided to try in-vitro fertilization. In that process, eggs are taken out of the ovary, fertilized in the laboratories, and returned when the embryos form three days later.

The process worked for Briggs at ages 41 and 43, producing two children. Being a full-time mom was a big adjustment from working in corporate America, but she said she wouldn't change it for anything.

"When I married my husband I thought, `This is the most love I can have for a person.' It was phenomenal," she said. "Then we had kids, and it was the deepest, most indescribable kind of love and affection and emotional dimension that you could possibly have."

Buster said another way for older women to have children is through donated eggs. Numbers show the pregnancy rates for this type of procedure are very high for women in their forties.