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IVF: The Perfect Solution to a Modern Problem?

By Jolly Zheng

The progression into the Modern Age has continuously led to the emergence of both new technologies as well as modern issues. Amongst one of the many obstacles is the rise in the infertility rate in both men and women. Lack of nutrition, increased body mass index, and substance abuse all contribute to one’s infertility. Common pesticides and pollutants also play a large role in infertility and are much harder to control. Through medical advancements, infertile couples have options like intrauterine insemination (IUI) as well as in vitro fertilization (IVF) to resort to. In vitro fertilization is when the fertilization of an egg and sperm occurs outside of the woman’s body. An egg is retrieved from the woman's ovaries. The fertilization occurs in an IVF laboratory. After the fertilization, the embryo is moved back into the women’s uterus. Although IVF has ultimately helped many couples create and/or expand their families, not everyone is a fan of IVF.

The average age of a first time mother in 2000 was 24.9. However, in 2014, the average age was 26.3. As women's infertility increases with age, IVF poses as the perfect solution for older women who are looking to give birth. One of the many ethical issues surrounding IVF entails an age-limit upon women who are able to partake in IVF.

As research has shown that there are more health risks when older women have a child, many believe there should be an age-limit on women who can have IVF. Due to the mother’s age, the child may likely not even be given birth to. The offspring of an older mother is more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, like Down Syndrome. The likelihood increases by a large increment. 1 in 1,250 women who conceive at age 25 gives birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Meanwhile, 1 in 100 women who conceive at age 40 gives birth to a child with Down Syndrome. The possibility is clearly not just simply doubled or tripled. There is a greater risk of pregnancy loss whether it is a miscarriage or stillbirth for older mothers as well. Pregnancy loss also leads to potential lasting effects on the parents. Many mothers who experience pregnancy loss also experience anxiety and/or depression afterward. While IVF for older women provides them with the opportunity to create and/or expand their family, the consequences of a pregnancy from IVF may be too great.

As the issue of infertility continues to raise concern, further research, as well as solutions, will develop over time. As we continue to learn more and more about IVF and its consequences on older women who would like to partake in it, it is crucial for potential parents to research and learn more about IVF.

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