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IVF for the over 50s

IVF over 50 best clinics

If you a woman over 50 and looking to begin or continue IVF treatment it might be tempting to throw the towel in. Age and success rates seem to be against you and treatment opportunities might appear to be few and far between. But is that really the case? Should you accept defeat and turn your back on IVF? The short answer is no, we all know fertility is complex, clinics continually tell us they provide ‘personalised’ treatments which means every patient is different and deserves to be treated so. The chances of IVF success don’t automatically stop at 49 years and 364 days, we are all unique and our ability to respond to treatment varies from person to person.

So, if you are over 50 and want to attempt an IVF procedure the advice is simple – be realistic, your chances of a successful procedure using your own eggs may be slim, although improved if a donor is involved, but if you are in good health and want to try, you do have options. This blog will help you consider them.

IVF at 50: The Official View

The ‘official’ (medical and scientific) line regarding age vs IVF is that biologically your chances of pregnancy using your own eggs dramatically decline after your mid-thirties. By 50 it becomes difficult and by 55, neigh on impossible. Depending on the country in which your treatment provider is located you might be advised to bypass a treatment using your own eggs completely and only be offered a procedure using donor eggs. Your potential chances of IVF success at 50 will vary dramatically depending on your personal circumstances but it is not uncommon for professionals to advise that these chances are as low as 1 to 2% even considering the best scenarios!

These figures worsen as you get older with the age of 55 being singled out as a tipping point by professional bodies as these quotes from the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine suggest,

“Because of concerns related to the high-risk nature of pregnancy, as well as longevity, treatment of women over the age of 55 should generally be discouraged.”

Oocyte or embryo donation to women of advanced reproductive age: an Ethics Committee opinion

And,

“Embryo transfer should be strongly discouraged or denied to any woman over age 50 with underlying issues that could increase or further obstetrical risks and discouraged in women over age 55 without such issues.”

The advice from the NHS in the U.K. appears to be starker,

“IVF isn’t usually recommended for women over the age of 42 because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be too low. In 2019, the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was 4% for women aged over 44”

NHS, UK, IVF Overview

The medical advice appears crystal therefore but once again we need to apply some caution here. Yes, there is no denying age plays a vital role in IVF success rates but so does your health and this is something we can manage ourselves. For many, 50 is the new 40, and our physical health at this age is generally better than it was twenty or thirty years ago.

So, you are 50 plus, and you believe you are in good physical health, where next?

The best clinics for women over 50

Unfortunately, there isn’t a league table to compare clinic with clinic in terms of their ability to offer IVF success to women over 50 which means that invariably we are left to our own devices in terms of identifying which clinic would offer the best opportunity. There are a number of things which we can do however to scale down research. Firstly, we can identify those countries which offer IVF treatment for women over 50 and this has been done in the next section entitled, IVF at 50: The Legal View. Secondly, we can scour clinic websites to see if they specifically mention over 50’s. There are number of clinics that have invested resources and time in assisting older IVF patients and these will include dedicated information on their websites. As always, we recommend asking the question to fellow patients in forums to narrow down your choices of clinic and country.

You may be interested in reading our Best IVF Clinics Guide.

IVF at 50: The Legal View

Travelling for IVF has become ever more popular as more countries offer a diverse range of treatments for international patients. We travel for many reasons including cost, access to donors and treatments we can’t access at home. If you are over 50 and cannot or wish not to have IVF treatment in your country of residence you do have travel options and we have listed some of these below.

IVF CountryIVF legal limit
SpainNo specific law, 50 years old maximum age is recommended by Spanish fertility societies.
PortugalUnder 50
Czech RepublicUnder 49
North CyprusUnder 58
GreeceUnder 50
DenmarkUnder 46
LatviaNo specific law, decided by the clinic
PolandNo specific law, decided by the clinic
UkraineNo specific law, decided by the clinic
RussiaNo specific law, decided by the clinic
United KingdomNo specific law, decided by the clinic
MexicoNo specific law, decided by the clinic
USANo specific law, decided by the clinic

We have provided below some additional details about treatment in these selected countries for women over 50.

Spain

Despite there not being an ‘official’ legal limit on the age of women IVF patients there is a consensus amongst clinics that in practice this upper ceiling should be 50. In some circumstances, this can be increased to 52 depending upon the health of the patient.

Find IVF Clinics in Spain

Portugal

Clinics are able to treat women under the age of 50, which is effective 49 years and 364 days.

Find IVF Clinics in Portugal

Czech Republic

Fertility legislation in the country is fairly liberal and is one of the reasons why patients are travelling to the country in increasing numbers. Clinics however will not offer IVF treatment to women over the age of 49.

Find IVF Clinics in Czech Republic

North Cyprus

North Cyprus has one of the highest age ceilings for women in Europe. Depending on clinical approval women up until the age of 58 can receive IVF treatment.

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Greece

Following the pause in treatments due to the Covid 19 pandemic the Greek government have placed a temporary age ceiling of 52 for female IVF patients.

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Denmark

The Act on Artificial Fertilisation state that private sector clinics can treat women up until the age of 46 – the upper age for public clinics is 40.

Latvia

Despite funded treatment being only available to women until the age of 37 private clinics can independently decide the cut off age for female IVF patients.

Find IVF Clinics in Latvia

Poland

There is no legislation governing the upper age limit for women IVF patients although they have to be heterosexual and married or cohabiting.

Ukraine

In more peaceful times the country does not restrict access to IVF treatments on based on age.

Russia

Similar to Ukraine there is no legal restrictions on the upper age of women wanting IVF treatment.

United Kingdom

There is not a legally restriction placed on access to IVF treatments for women although the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) which provides guidance to the NHS in the U.K. suggest 42 should be the upper age limit for funded patients. Private clinics do have discretion based on the health of the patient.

Mexico

There are no specific laws governing the age of women IVF patients and clinics have a degree of flexibility based on the general health of the patient.

USA

Although there is no specific law which governs the whole country, fertility clinics tend to offer IVF treatment to women up until the age of 45 although clinics do have some flexibility in offering treatments to older women depending on their particular circumstances.

India

According to most recent law in 2020 clinics should only offer IVF treatment to women up to the age of 50.

I am 50 plus so can I have IVF?

The short answer is yes! You have options if you wish to travel and depending on the clinic you visit you might be offered the opportunity to try with your own eggs or those of a donor. These options will be based on the country’s legislation and the individual clinic’s policy. As we stated throughout this blog, as an older patient you do have to be realistic about the chances of success – choose your clinic carefully, ask about their success rates with older patients and remember to ask other women who have experienced treatment to get an appreciation of how well you are likely to be cared for.

IVF at 50 with donor eggs

If you are over 50 it is almost inevitable that the majority of clinics will offer IVF with donor eggs as the preferred treatment option. According to ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) the average success rate for treatments using donor eggs is 50% – this is significantly higher than the success rate if you were to decide to try to use your own eggs. For most older patients this statistic alone is powerful enough for them to choose donor treatment. At the end of the day however it is about choice and if you are assessed as physically fit to be able to undergo a cycle using your own eggs you have the ability to do so in a number of countries as we have seen.

IVF at 50 with own eggs

According to ESHRE the average success rate of IVF with own eggs for patients over 45 is around 2% – this figure continues to decline in patients over 50 – however remember the caveat that we are all different and if you want and choose to try IVF with your own eggs after the age of 50 you will be able to do so in a few countries around the world.

IVF at 50: Final Thoughts

Depending on your country of residence you may have reached the age of 50 and thought that your opportunity to access IVF treatment may have passed. It is true that opportunity and success do decline with age, however not all is lost! There are countries around the world that are governed by liberal fertility legislation which means that clinics can offer a variety of treatments for older patients.

This article will hopefully prove to be a good starting point by illustrating which countries have legislation in place and which specifically limit treatment by age. Once you have options by country you will be able drill down and see if any clinic has a built a reputation for treatment older patients. Remember if you are offered success rates ensure they apply to your age and make the most of patient forums and testimonials to get a feel for the experiences of others who have attempted treatment at a similar age.

A final thought: Although age is a key determinant in IVF treatment it is not the only one. If you are considering IVF at 50 plus get a health check and discuss your options. They might be better than you think!

Aleksander Wiecki
Aleksander Wiecki
Aleksander is an advocate of transparency and truth about IVF treatment and patients’ experience manager. With strong expertise and background in the IVF and infertility industry including IVF clinics and genetic laboratories Aleksander strongly believes that there is a gap between IVF patients and clinics. This is a gap where patients may fall for the most common IVF treatment traps during their infertility journey. That’s why patients need help and support which they don’t necessarily get from IVF clinics. The support which comes from an objective, trustworthy and reliable source. Aleksander is a regular guest at ESHRE annual meetings, the Fertility Show in London, the Fertility Forum, the IMTJ - Medical Travel Summit, Fertility Exhibitions and conferences around the world.

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