Did 54 Year Old Brigitte Neilsen Use IVF to Conceive? Probably.
Her pregnancy is sparking hope
When news broke this week of 54 year old Brigitte Neilsen’s pregnancy, the internet rumor mills started churning out theories at record rates. Did Brigitte Neilsen use IVF to conceive her fifth child? Is 54 a healthy and safe age to conceive a child? How did she stay so fertile for so long?
“If a woman is still having regular periods at age 50 [ or older ], it is possible to conceive naturally, but it would be extremely rare,” explains Rachel A. McConnell, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. “Many women who desire to have a pregnancy at or after age fifty will use assisted reproductive technology which would involve in vitro fertilization using oocyte (egg) donation from a younger woman.”
Did Brigitte Neilsen use IVF or other assisted fertility treatments?
While nobody but Brigitte and her doctor can 100% confirm the use of IVF in her latest pregnancy, the odds are certainly stacked in the favor of fertility assistance, and her later-than-average pregnancy is probably giving hope to the many women across the world who have put their baby plans on hold due to career, finances, education, stress, love — or just about any other normal thing a woman might endure.
Read more: This Fertility Exercise is Free and Easy
“Even though a woman’s egg quality and quantity will decrease with age, the woman’s womb can be healthy enough and strong enough to carry a pregnancy to full term and have a baby,” says McConnell. “From a biological perspective, it is best to start a family before age 35. As a woman ages, her egg quality and quantity will decrease. With a decrease in egg quality and quantity, many women will experience infertility and miscarriages.”
While Neilsen’s pregnancy sounds promising, and may have even used her own frozen embryos and assisted frozen embryo transfer treatment, doctors tend to agree that the likelihood of her pregnancy coming from her own egg is low unless she had planned this years before, or found herself in the small percentage of women who are able to conceive naturally in their 50s, mainly because they’ve had several healthy prior pregnancies.
“Most women having a baby after 40 have had babies before,” shares Dr. Amos Grunebaum, OBGYN and medical expert for Fairhaven Health. “Having prior healthy pregnancies is a good sign of future healthy pregnancy, though with advanced age complications still increase.”
Neilsen, who has four older children ranging in age from 23 to 34, will still face statistically greater chances of complications such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and even the risk of needed a C-section delivery. “Risks to the baby could include preterm delivery and low birth weight,” says Grunebaum.
We’re excited for her newest bundle of joy, and even more excited to give older women the hope of extended fertility.
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