U reproductive center launches fertility assessment program

In 2008, about 14 percent of women given birth were older women while only 10 percent were teenagers.

U reproductive center launches fertility assessment program

Kali Dingman

 

More teenagers gave birth in 1990 than women over 35. That reversed in 2008, when 14 percent of births were to older women while only 10 percent were to teenagers, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

As a greater number of older women are trying to conceive, the University of Minnesota Physicians’ Reproductive Medicine Center is heading a service that analyzes a woman’s chances of fertility later in life.

The new program, BioClock Baby Plan, looks for any potential barriers to conceiving naturally, like uterine abnormalities.

The center will begin taking appointments for the new service this week.

The service is directed toward women in their 30s who may be considering putting pregnancy off until they have achieved other life goals, like finishing an education, traveling or establishing a career.

A woman is born with a finite number of eggs. After birth, no new eggs will form and both the number and quality of those eggs deteriorates.

For most women, the primary infertility concern is aging. When a woman is 45, the likelihood of miscarrying is 50/50, said Dr. Theodore Nagel, who specializes in reproductive medicine.

Though the tests are not completely accurate, the goal of the assessments is to increase women’s education and awareness of their reproductive chances at an older age.

Nagel came up with the idea for the analysis a few months ago. He was a doctor of reproductive medicine at the clinic before he retired from his position last year. He decided to be a part of this program because he saw firsthand how important it is to inform women on their reproductive probability.

“Over the years, I have seen so many women in their late 40s having a horrible time getting pregnant,” Nagel said.

Many women who visit the clinic were surprised to find they were having problems conceiving because of their age.

“Some women seemed to not be aware and not fully informed of their fertility,” said Gail Kelly,  clinical operations director of women’s health for University of Minnesota Physicians.

The assessment involves a reproductive health history questionnaire, blood tests to measure anti-mullerian hormones and anti-Chlamydia antibodies and a pelvic ultrasound. At the end of the tests, a summary of the data is compiled.

The woman will then meet with a fertility expert who will advise lifestyle changes and treatment options if necessary.

If the woman is in a committed relationship, it is possible to also assess the semen of the male.

Women in their 20s might consider having the assessment as well, Nagel said, especially if they have had a previous illness like childhood leukemia or a family history that could affect their reproductive success.