This week, ex-Olympian swimmer Lisa Curry announced she was trying for a baby using IVF. In an interview with New idea, the 51-year-old said she was trying for her fourth baby with her new partner, 31-year-old Joel Walkenhorst. She already has three children with her former partner Grant Kenny – Jaimi, 25, Morgan, 22, and Jett, 18.
In the exclusive interview with New Idea, Curry said she and Joel had met with IVF specialists and have begun a formal cycle of fertility treatment.
This post is written by researcher in applied ethics and children welfare, Mianna Lotz. In it Lotz looks at access and eligibility to IVF for older women and what the changes are of getting pregnant for women older than the age of 44.
By MIANNA LOTZ
Considerable public controversy exists around the question of access to in-vitro fertilisation treatment (IVF) for older women. Some support unlimited, publicly-funded access for all infertile women and couples, irrespective of age. Others beg to differ.
Many people support restrictions on eligibility and access, including increases to the costs borne by individuals. They also oppose the use of tax revenue to fund what is, after all, an expensive procedure drawing on finite health resources.
And many argue that there should be an age limit on IVF access. One such person is the woman who, at 57 years of age, became one of Britain’s oldest IVF mothers. Ms Tollefson has called for an age limit of 50 years for women seeking infertility treatment.
Now in her early 60s, Ms Tollefson doesn’t regret having had her daughter, but says she struggles with raising a child, and with knowing that she has limited time to see her daughter grow up.
Infertility and current IVF access
Improvements in IVF since it first became available in the 1970s have led to significant increases in both treatment and success rates. Approximately 3% of all Australian births result from some form of assisted reproduction technology (ART) treatment. And, at any given time, approximately 9% of Australian couples are experiencing infertility.
The average age of women using IVF has increased. Data from studies carried out by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveals that the average age of women receiving treatment using their own eggs or embryos, is 36 years, and the average age for women using donated eggs or embryos is 40.8 years. A quarter of all Australian IVF treatment is to assist women who are aged 40 years or over. But only one in 100 women over 44 will deliver a live baby.
There’s no national legislation imposing a maximum age for IVF in Australia, and doctors are divided over whether there should be an age limit. Guidelines in some states, such as South Australia, recommend 50 years as the maximum age.