There’s no one way to build a family — and no age limit to become a parent. Many people have decided to become parents later in life, when they’re more financially stable and feel emotionally ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood.
Depending on your situation, some fertility treatments can give you better outcomes over others. But, to be candid, the chances of success vary depending on the age of the egg and embryo being used. Sperm health also decreases as a male partner ages.
Below are the recommendations from our medical advisor, Dr. Rehan from The Portland Hospital, London, on the potential routes to parenthood if you are over the age of 50. While there are many options to start a family, your fertility doctor will be the best person to recommend the one(s) best suited to you.
Consult your obstetric physician
Before you decide on the best route for you, consult an obstetric physician, who specialises in pregnancy in women over 40. They will be able to give you a recommendation based on your personal circumstances and health.
IVF with donor eggs
IVF with donor eggs is proven to increase IVF success rates. Based on HFEA data from 2018, IVF patients over the age of 44 had a birth rate of 27% using donor eggs, compared to 4% using their own eggs. You can source donor eggs from an egg bank or an altruistic donor. After you select the right eggs for you, one will be fertilised with sperm in a laboratory to create an embryo. If the embryo created is healthy, it can be transferred to a woman’s womb to carry the pregnancy.
There are important considerations if you use donor eggs in the UK: once your child turns 18, they have the right to know who their egg donor was. If you choose to go through IVF treatment abroad, the egg donation can be completely anonymous.
Read more about egg donor IVF.
Read more about completing IVF treatment abroad.
In a surrogate pregnancy, another woman carries and gives birth to your child. Depending on your situation, you can use your own eggs, donor eggs from a bank, or the surrogate’s eggs.
Surrogacy success rates depend on the surrogate’s ability to get pregnant, age of the eggs being used, success of the treatment (IUI, ICSI, or IVF) and the quality of the sperm. Age of the egg is the most important factor in determining the success.
It is important to note that surrogacy is expensive: you’ll need to cover your surrogate’s time and medical care.
Adopting a child from a reputable agency is an option for parents-to-be of all ages. You can connect with an agency through your local council or a voluntary adoption agency. You and other potential adoptive parents will have to go through pre-screening, including financial and lifestyle checks, before being approved to adopt children. The approval process typically takes 6 months, depending on the agency you work with.
We hope that this brief overview of options has been helpful. No matter which path you decide to take, know that there are many ways to become a parent. If you have any questions about specific treatment options, reach out to your medical provider.