IVF Age Limit: How Old Is Too Old?
The IVF age limit varies between countries and is applied differently to men and women. Is there a biological reason for a ceiling to be applied by age or is it a decision that is formed as a result of an ethical debate? It is a complex question and one treatment providers struggle with when they are asked to undertake treatment for older patients. It is true that success rate and birth rates dip as egg quality diminishes and the risk to the patient and child is greater. Each country uses different criteria to assess ‘how old is too old’ when it comes to patients accessing an IVF cycle.
In this article, we take a look at different countries and show whether they apply an upper age limit for IVF.
Age Limits for IVF Treatment – health risks, implications and issues around treating an older patient
‘Advanced reproductive age’ for women is largely considered 37 and above. As a woman ages, their egg quality and quantity diminishes. Fewer eggs become available for recruitment and maturation and her eqq quality risks both the chances of a successful treatment and the health of her child. There is also a higher chance that treatments will be affected by miscarriage.
‘Advanced reproductive age’ for men is largely considered 40 and above. Unlike women whose egg quality diminishes as they get older men never stop producing sperm except in cases of disease or structural damage. This is why many countries do no Attempt to impose age limit for ivf treatment for men.
Factors affecting fertility treatments and IVF success rates
Birth rates and success are subject to a range of factors.
There are a number of factors which taken individually or collectively can affect the efficacy of IVF treatments and how it contributes to higher rates of infertility.
The age of the woman is a major determinant. The ovaries declining ability to create the quality and quantity of viable eggs after the mid 30’s until the menopause means that the chance of achieving pregnancy naturally or via an IVF cycle is reduced. There are also associated risks with age which may increase the chance of miscarriage or the possibility of delivering twins.
Additional factors that might affect infertility treatments and success rates include health condition such as endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes in the woman or a low sperm count in the male patient. A history of miscarriage might also affect the likelihood of success as would certain lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption or whether the patient was overweight. IVF clinics also play a part whether infertility treatments are successful – access to an appropriate egg donor or donor sperm is essential as are the methods and treatments employed by IVF clinics.
If you have any questions relating to the upper age limit that clinics apply you should raise this when you make an appointment to ascertain the clinic’s own policy and whether this would affect your treatment. As a potential, older parent you may also be asked to undertake additional screening to ensure your general health is sufficient to undergo IVF treatment.
Age limits for in vitro fertilization per country
Many argue that an upper age limit for IVF should not be imposed on patients, arguing the health of the womb, uterus and ovaries differ from woman to woman. As a consequence, the age limit for IVF treatment should be a matter between professional and patient. Others however, suggest the risks are too apparent and age limits need to be imposed to safeguard the health of all patients.
Advances in fertility treatments now mean that donor sperm and egg donor programmes are very effective in enabling older patients to have the chance of a healthy pregnancy and in many ways negate the likelihood of issues arising purely around the age of the patient.
We will examine the rules around the upper age limit for IVF as applied by a number of different countries across Europe. Unless stated the upper age limit refers to women patients as the vast majority of countries do not specifically place an IVF age limit on male patients.
Age limit for IVF in the UK
NHS fertility treatment in the UK has been shaped by guidance produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) which includes information about the age limit for IVF treatment. According to NICE’s most recent recommendations about the upper age limit for IVF it suggested that funded treatment should be offered to women up until the maximum age of 42 (if certain criteria were met) however this was only a recommendation and in practice the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who are responsible for funding regional based treatment through the NHS do not guarantee any treatment based solely on patient age.
Is there an age limit for IVF privately?
In the UK private sector there is no legally set upper age limit for IVF. Clinics are able to use their discretion with due consideration to the regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). It is not unusually for clinics to treat women into their late 40’s but invariably this is with the use of donor eggs.
Age limit for IVF in Cyprus
There is no specific legislation in place in Cyprus regarding medically assisted reproduction – guidelines and fairly flexible regulations are contained in general health statutes. It is generally considered that the upper age limit for treatment is 45 but this can be increased to the age of 55 in some circumstances.
In order to access treatment over 50 the island’s Ministry of Health says that women have to be proved to be ‘medically fit’ and can be assisted in three ways. Firstly, following consultations if healthy and having sufficient ovarian reserve a woman could be a candidate for conventional IVF with own eggs. If her reserve is not sufficient, she may be offered ovarian PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) treatment to stimulate oocyte production or alternatively, an egg donor treatment.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Cyprus here.
Age limit for IVF in Spain
In Spain, there is a specific law on assisted reproduction but this does not impose any specific condition regarding an age limit for IVF. Many of the leading Spanish clinics have their own dedicated ethics committees who facilitate policies and best practice and these have generally recommended limiting the age of women patients to 50 – some clinics may accept patients up to 52. The mainstream treatment providers in both the public and private sectors have adopted this maximum age limit which is viewed as the ‘age of menopause’.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Spain here.
IVF in Ukraine – age limit
Ukrainian legislation on medically assisted reproduction is wide-ranging in terms of the treatments which clinics can offer and the patients that can access them. It does not however impose any limitation on the upper age limit for IVF. Consequently, the country has become very popular with older patients seeking conventional and donor related procedures.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Ukraine here.
IVF in Czech Republic – age limit
Legislation on medically assisted reproduction in the Czech Republic is very liberal in one respect in relation to the range of treatments it offers however it does limit access to these treatments to heterosexual couples.
It does attempt to be liberal however in terms of the IVF age limit applied by clinics. The legal limit for women who access fertility treatment is 49 years of age therefore patients should be no older than 48 years and 364 days on the day of embryo transfer.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in the Czech Republic here.
IVF in Greece – age limit
The Greek Ministry of Health governs IVF clinics in this country and has procedures in place to enable it to inspect facilities when necessary. It also legislates for treatments offered and currently places an IVF age limit of 50 for women seeking treatment.
IVF in Turkey – age limit
There is no legal upper age limit for IVF but as the country does not allow egg donor treatments there is in effect a maximum age limit. This limit is wholly dependent on the patient’s ability to produce viable eggs which would be capable of being fertilized via conventional IVF treatment. This would be assessed via a screening process at the beginning of the treatment process. The age limit for IVF treatment therefore varies.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Turkey here.
Age limit for IVF in Estonia
The Artificial Insemination and Embryo Protection Act (1997) regulates IVF provision in Estonia and the sector is very well regulated with clinics receiving regular visits to ensure safety and quality standards. The law states that women up to the age of 50 can undergo IVF treatment.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Estonia here.
Age limit for IVF in Russia
There is no upper age limit for IVF in Russia. Flexible legislation allows individual treatment providers to set limits based on their assessment of patients.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Russia here.
Age limit for IVF in Latvia
IVF is regulated by the Sexual and Reproductive Health Law and part-funded treatment is available to women up until the age of 37. In the private sector, individual clinics can independently decide on upper age limit for IVF and therefore there is effectively no ceiling based on age.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Latvia in this section.
IVF in Slovakia – age limit
The Ministry of Health governs IVF provision in Slovakia and domestic patients up to the age of 39 can access funded treatments covered by health insurance. There is no specific legislation in place governing IVF age limit in the private sector many clinics have set a ceiling of 52 years, invariably endorsed by the clinic ethics committee.
You can find more information on IVF clinics in Slovakia here.
IVF in Poland – age limit
There is no upper age limit for IVF in Poland. Flexible legislation allows individual treatment providers to set limits based on their screening of patients. Treatment is only available for married or cohabiting, heterosexual couples.
IVF clinics with no age limit
The following IVF clinic that is featured on fertility clinics abroad does not have an upper age limit for IVF: Next Generation Clinic, St Petersburg
Age limits for IVF – to sum up
The majority of IVF clinics in Europe operate with an age limit for IVF treatment. The criteria is sometimes set by legislation or by a regulatory body although there are a few countries that can offer more flexibility in terms of treating older patients such as Cyprus, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, and Slovakia. The IVF age limit which is in effect usually relates to the age of the female patient. Infertility is age related and it seems that many countries are now coming to similar conclusions when placing a ceiling on the age at which women can be treated.
Age limits for IVF – Frequently Asked Questions
Can I have IVF at 40?
Yes, although there are some ivf clinics which do not offer funded treatment for women patients aged 40 all the private clinics featured on https://www.fertilityclinicsabroad.com/ would offer a range of treatments. The success rate offered by the clinic would depend on whether treatments involved a sperm donor or egg donor and ivf clinics would offer consultations to ensure patients were all of any risk involved in treatments.
Can I have IVF at 45?
Yes, there are a number of countries that offer an ivf cycle for women aged 45. These include,
- Czech Republic,
Can I do IVF at 50?
Yes, there are a number of countries that offer an ivf cycle for women aged 50. These include,
Is 55 too old for IVF?
The vast majority of ivf clinics would not offer an ivf cycle to a woman patient aged 55 or over. The Chance of a pregnancy via conventional ivf is virtually impossible and the likelihood is that most clinics would refuse to offer an ivf cycle that didn’t involve an egg donor. There are various issues which could occur at this age including the increased likelihood of a miscarriage and health risk to the patient.
What are ivf age limits in Europe?
When we talk about Ivf age limits in Europe it refers to the age of the woman. The majority of ivf clinics offer treatments to women up to the age of 50 with a few countries being a little more flexible and offering treatments to women after 50. These include, North Cyprus, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia and Slovakia.
Treatments for older women are often associated with egg donor or donor sperm. The health of the patient is always paramount and ivf clinics will discuss success rate and any health risk with patients. If you are an older patient ensure you discuss any risks and issues with your doctor during initial consultations at your appointment and assess the likelihood of any health risks before beginning treatments.