Recent reforms in assisted reproduction in Greece carry an optimistic tone as the age limit for a woman wishing to resort to IVF treatment, has been now extended to 54. This alteration of the age limit, according to the legislation bill, is due to two factors:
- A woman can achieve natural reproductive ability up to the age of 54
- Nowadays, the pace of life leads more and more women to start a family at an advanced age. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in the period between 2010-2014, more than 400 Greek women over 50 gave birth. In 2010 the number of these women was 92, in 2011 dropped to 72, in 2012 it was 83, and in 2014 it was 66.
Therefore, in Greece it is now feasible for a woman between the age of 50 and 54 to achieve childbearing through the means of assisted reproduction, after having received the relevant approval from the Greek National Authority of Assisted Reproduction.
What does “Treatment after 50” mean?
Now that the legislation has been modernised, the torch is passed to the biological – scientific aspect of such an important reformation.
As it is widely known, the expected biological attrition of the oocytes in a woman due to age, is a fact. The quality of the ovaries deteriorates with time, and in connection with the high risk rate of chromosomal abnormalities that may occur due to the woman’s advanced age (e.g., Down Syndrome), natural conception and subsequently pregnancy, become unachievable. However, that does not mean that a woman cannot get pregnant after 50.
The cutting-edge technology and the constant development in the field of assisted reproduction, allows women of advanced age, to be able to successfully bring a child to this world, even if she has entered menopause.
What are my choices?
If a woman still has a regular menstrual cycle and she still has a good ovarian reserve, one option would be to perform own egg IVF treatment and employ genetic testing (Pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidies- PGTA) to find and transfer on healthy embryos. This would bypass the age related issues and lead to pregnancy rates that are considered acceptable despite the older reproductive age. However, one needs to understand the restrictions on this type of treatment and testing as random chromosomal abnormalities rates are very high in the embryos that we create in women above the age of 43 and the biopsy of the embryos to test them carries risks.
Egg freezing at a younger age is considered the best option for a woman to get pregnant after a significant amount of time, with her own genetic material, i.e., having her own biological child. With oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing), science can preserve the good quality of genetic material for it to be used within the next years, carrying the success rates that correspond to the younger age when the eggs were cryopreserved.
The most effective method of treatment in these older reproductive age groups is treatment with the use of donor eggs. This type of treatment can take place even if a woman has stopped her menses. Success rates are high and risks of miscarriage are low.
Preparation is the key
For a woman who is trying to get pregnant, even in the case of natural conception, the good health condition plays an important role for the course of the process. Especially, women of advanced age who are about to embark on IVF treatment, must prepare their bodies in order to eliminate the risks that loom due to their age. This preparation involves a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, body weight control, regulation of secondary health conditions, etc.
To sum up, with the help of these legal reformations, the Greek legislation has adjusted to the needs of modern society and therefore women can resort to assisted reproduction in order to create their own families, up until the age of 54. Moreover, egg donation comes to reinforce the new reality by bringing the best and safest way for women over 50 to have a child.
What is worth noting and constitutes the most essential change is that when the progress of assisted reproduction meets the modernisation of the legislative framework, new opportunities arise. Here at Newlife IVF Greece, we are ready and happy to support you, if you wish to embark on such a journey. Please contact us in order to schedule a free medical consultation to discuss your treatment options.