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'IVF Couples Can Become Stronger'

Irish Independent,  Sept 28, 2010
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There was an ageist furor when the public learned that Rod Stewart was to father his eighth child — at 66. And when it emerged that the rock legend and his wife, Penny Lancaster, used IVF to conceive a sibling for their son, the discussion gained momentum.

The couple, though, were more concerned with the emotional issues than the age ones. They told Hello! of their joy at the pregnancy. It took three IVF cycles, they said, and was an emotional rollercoaster. That's an important message, with IVF now so common.

Once a hidden mystery, IVF is better understood these days. Successful parents are more likely to discuss their experience, and thanks to websites and chat rooms, women are better informed. But they often leave having a family until their fertility is in sharp decline.

According to Helen Browne of the National Infertility Support and Information Group, women often contact the organisation at 38 or 39 wanting to conceive without resorting to IVF.

"If they married in their mid-thirties, they want to wait a year or two to get to know their partner rather than trying for a child straight away. But at 38 their ovarian reserve might not be as good. We suggest they talk to their clinician, and consider IVF straight away."

It's a sentiment shared by Dr David Walsh of the Sims clinic.

"People see IVF as the last resort," he says, "and they shouldn't. The diagnostic side has, actually, not been completed until a couple has had a cycle of IVF. And if they present at an infertility clinic at 38, have a few IUI's (Intrauterine Insemination) before the IVF, they might succeed at 39 and have a baby at 40. But then they're back at 41 wanting a second child, and by leaving it so late they're compromising their chances.

"An American study a while back, calculating the cost of an average child by IVF found that it was $10,000 when the woman was 35, escalating to $30,000 when she was 40. That's a clear illustration of the reduction in chances of success."

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