It is common knowledge that chances for a 40something woman to conceive through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is very slim. However, you never know if you have a chance of conceiving until you undergo a pre-IVF assessment with your fertility specialist.
Shirley Wu, 52, wanted to have a child later in life. As a 46-year-old Malaysian living in the UK at the time, she first sought IVF treatment in London. However, she was rejected by doctors because of her age. Dejected, she returned to Malaysia to try her luck.
She was aware that her chances of conceiving using her own eggs were very low. There was the possibility that she may not have healthy or any eggs that can be harvested and fertilised. However, she decided to try anyway. After a lot of research, she underwent IVF treatment in Klang.
The trials of reaching motherhood
In an IVF procedure, three things must be present before an IVF procedure can be carried out: sperm, a healthy uterus to contain the embryo, and an ovary that still produces eggs. If all goes well, the IVF cycle can then be carried out in five steps.
First, hormones are injected into the woman over a period of nine days to increase production of eggs. After that, the eggs will be harvested and fertilised. This new embryo will then be cultured for a few days before being transferred into the uterine cavity of the woman.
After this process, the patient is given medication to ensure the endometrial lining is healthy and conducive for the embryo to implant itself on the wall. If everything goes well, we can see a pregnancy sign in three weeks.
Wu was fortunate the doctors managed to harvest two healthy eggs from her ovaries, and one was fertilised successfully enough to be inserted into her womb. In three weeks, she was confirmed to be pregnant.
Love and care paid off
The chances of miscarriage from IVF are higher at 10% in comparison to natural conception. Therefore, Wu faced even higher risks because of her age. Because she knew it was her last chance at conceiving a child, Wu took all measures she could to ensure a smooth pregnancy, including taking a year of unpaid leave.
During this pregnancy, she had to go to frequent follow-ups to ensure the health of the baby and that her medication is administered correctly. Her mental state was also looked after by the doctors to reduce chances of complications in her pregnancy. This is because high anxiety can affect the implantation of the embryo.
The baby was healthy throughout her antenatal check-ups. Wu soon delivered a healthy baby girl in her hometown of Kuching in 2014, a month before her 47th birthday. Now, baby Ava (pic) is five years old and brings sunshine to her mother’s life.
There is hope for you yet
Wu’s story of a successful IVF pregnancy using her own eggs at the age of 46 is one of very few in the world. Generally, most doctors do not carry out IVF for women in their 40s because the chances of conceiving are so low.
According to her doctor, she was lucky she conceived with her first cycle of IVF. This is because statistically, it would have taken her a few hundred times to be able to conceive successfully. All in all, you can conceive even if you are in your 40s.
Nevertheless, it is best for women who are postponing starting a family for their career to have a child before 35. If you are older, consult a fertility specialist as soon as possible.
Wu’s story shows it is possible to have a healthy baby even in your 40s. Therefore, she wishes to encourage 40-something women to continue trying if they really want a child, and don’t give up hope.