Assisted reproductive technologies: medical safety issues in the older woman

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Jun;20(6):853-61. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2603. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Abstract Previous study has shown that in the United States, most maternal deaths and severe obstetric complications due to chronic disease are potentially preventable through improved medical care before conception. Many women who need assisted reproductive technology (ART) because of infertility are older than the average pregnant woman. Risks for such chronic diseases as obesity, diabetes mellitus, chronic hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and malignancy greatly increase with maternal age. Chronic illness increases the risk of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure and is also associated with increased obstetric risk and even death. The objective of this review is to outline the potential risks for older women who undergo ART procedures and pregnancy and to characterize guidelines for evaluation before enrollment in ART programs. A PubMed search revealed that very few studies have related to pre-ART medical evaluation. Therefore, we suggest a pre-ART medical assessment, comparable to the recommendations of the American Heart Association before noncompetitive physical activity and the American Society of Anesthesiologists before elective surgery. This assessment should include a thorough medical questionnaire and medical examination. Further evaluation and treatment should follow to ensure the safety of ART procedures and of ensuing pregnancies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted* / adverse effects
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors