Anna was 38 when she finally met her husband-to-be, John, and decided it was time to start a family. After trying for almost two years with no success, she asked her doctor to refer her to a fertility specialist.
“I’d always dreamed of being a mom and now I was afraid that my time had run out. After talking to Dr. Beth Taylor at Olive Fertility Centre, I felt like there might be some hope.” said Anna.
After in-depth fertility testing, Anna discovered that she wasn’t producing an egg every month. Testing also revealed that her husband had some fertility issues.
“Dr. Taylor spent a long time with us discussing our fertility issues and what our treatment options were. I had a million and one questions, and she explained everything to me very carefully.”
“A diagnosis of infertility (defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year of having unprotected sex) does not mean you can’t have a child,” explains
Dr. Taylor. “There have been major advancements in the treatment of female and male infertility in the last few years and now the large majority of couples diagnosed with infertility will be able to get pregnant. In many cases the treatment is quite simple. But for couples that require a more high-tech approach, our success with in vitro fertilization (IVF) has improved enormously.”
IVF involves removing a woman’s eggs, fertilizing them in a lab with her partner’s sperm, and then placing the embryo back in the woman’s uterus.
“Until recently we’ve only been able to judge the health of an embryo by its appearance. While we’re able to get good success rates with this approach, many embryos that look normal don’t implant or the woman has a miscarriage because the embryo isn’t chromosomally normal,” says Dr. Taylor.
However, a genetic test called Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy or PGT-A is allowing fertility specialists to determine with much greater accuracy which embryos in IVF have the normal number of chromosomes and are the most likely to result in a successful pregnancy.
This test is of particular benefit for women age 38 and older like Anna who have a much higher chance of having an embryo that is chromosomally abnormal. The chances of a woman Anna’s age getting pregnant with IVF are less than 15 percent per cycle. With PGT-A—which involves screening the embryos for any chromosomal abnormalities and then choosing the healthiest embryo to put back into the mother’s uterus—the success rate for IVF is 75 percent even in women over 40 if a chromosomally normal embryo is identified.
Given Anna’s age and diagnosis, she and John decided to have PGT-A. They were lucky and one embryo was successfully transferred.
“Even though CCS added about $4,000 to the cost of the IVF, we feel it was so worth it. We’ve been able to just enjoy the pregnancy without worrying about a miscarriage and knowing that the baby is almost certainly free of any of the chromosome disorders like Down syndrome that are more common with older moms. And we have a couple of healthy frozen embryos for a future sibling.”
Fertility Specialist Q&A
Dr. Beth Taylor Answers Your Questions:
Dr. Taylor is co-founder and co-director of Olive Fertility Centre. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at UBC and an active staff member at B.C. Women’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.
Did you know that 15 percent of couples will have trouble getting pregnant and that number increases to more than 50 percent if the woman is over the age of 39? The good news is that advances in fertility treatment have made it possible for most couples who are having difficulty conceiving to have a baby.
When should I get my fertility checked? 6 reasons to ask your Family Doctor for a fertility evaluation
- You are < 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months or more;
- You are > 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more;
- You have been diagnosed with endometriosis or have had a previous pelvic infection or sexually transmitted infection;
- Your partner has a history of infection (e.g. mumps), injury or surgery on his testicles, or difficulty with erection or ejaculation, or he has been diagnosed with a sperm problem.
- You have irregular menstrual cycles;
- You or your partner has a health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or a history of cancer treated with radiation or chemotherapy.
Your consultations with a fertility specialist as well as the initial investigations for infertility are covered by your BC MSP.