India Old MotherThe day I discovered I couldn’t bear children will remain embellished in my mind. It was raining and I was attempting to be punctual for my HSG procedure so I drove a little faster than normal. After failed attempts to conceive during the past six years, I opted to take a repeat HSG procedure to determine whether my one remaining fallopian tube was open. I, like many other women, had a fibroid uterus that prevented me from having children. When the fibroids were removed, a tremendous amount of scar tissue developed and blocked one of my fallopian tubes. I could have lived with having one tube if I had successfully become pregnant — but I didn’t.

Although I arrived on time for my appointment, I remember feeling “rushed” as the technician ushered me into the procedure room. The infertility doc babbled as he inserted the dye through my uterus and I recalled feeling a searing pain. “Both tubes are blocked. Sorry,” said the doctor and then he left. The technician advised me to dress quickly because there was another patient waiting.  I didn’t even have time to process the information.

I called my husband from the car sobbing hysterically in the middle of a down pour and still wonder to this day how I made it home in one piece. So I, more than anyone else, understand why women are desperate to have children. Such was the case of Rajo Devi  in India.

Devi and her 77 year-old husband were childless for over 50 years. They sought the help of Dr. Anurage Bishnor of the National Fertility Clinic who helped Devi conceive through successful IVF treatments. Devi is now the proud mother of an 18 month old son and still breast feeds. The National Fertility Clinic is considered “ground zero” for older women trying to conceive and he successfully helped a 66 year-old conceive triplets.

Some would argue that it is unethical to assist women like Devi based on the risk factors for an older mom. Maria Carmen del Bousada was 67 years old when she delivered twins. Two years later, she died from breast cancer leaving her children to be raised by her nephew. Should IVF be offered to women after menopause? It depends. The life expectancy of a “healthy” woman in her fifties is certainly different from a “healthy” woman in her seventies.

 A diagnosis of infertility can be devastating but so can the side effects of IVF and complications of pregnancy for older women. In the improbable quest towards parenthood; please tread wisely.