Who Is Misleading Whom? IVF for Women over 40

An article titled “The Misleading Promise of IVF for Women Over 40” in the October 17, 2016 issue of The New York Times, raised some eyebrows at CHR. Here is a short commentary from Dr. Gleicher, CHR’s Medical Director and Chief Scientist, who has devoted a good portion of his career to improving the fertility prospects of women with low ovarian reserve, including women over 40, with remarkable results.

Jane E. Brody, who usually writes well-informed articles on health care issues, must have had a bad day because her piece can only be viewed as a disservice to older women who do seek reliable information on the subject. Rather than seeking advice from fertility specialists with special expertise in treating older women with use of their own egg (and there are some also outside of CHR), she only spoke  to (and extensively quoted) a fertility expert whose whole career has been practically exclusively only in egg donation, and who probably never in his life seriously attempted to help a woman to conceive with her own eggs above age 42.

Not surprisingly, he completely misrepresented what is happening in female infertility: It is categorically incorrect that there “is hardly any age that the clinics now turn patients away.” Exactly the opposite is true: Most IVF clinics aggressively push patients prematurely into egg donations! We see such patients every single day here at CHR.

Brody claims to have looked at national ART outcome reporting by the CDC. If she had looked at how proportionally few IVF cycles are done nationally in women above age 42, she would have noticed that the expert she consulted quite obviously was not well informed. Moreover, she would also have noticed that egg donation cycles in recent years have been growing in numbers much quicker than any other form of IVF.

Infertility patients are probably the best informed patient population in medicine. Of course, older women should be correctly informed (as we here at CHR always say “with brutal honesty”) what their pregnancy and live birth chances are; but, at least here at CHR, patients who come for consultation to our center have often heard many times over that their “only” chance was egg donation. They usually are actually pleasantly surprised by the chances we are quoting, as low as they maybe, and we are exactly quoting what our center’s experiences are, reported to CDC, published on CHR’s website and repeatedly published in peer reviewed publications in the medical literature.

Ms. Brody owes older infertile women a better informed piece in compensation!

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.