A Preliminary Report on Oocyte Donation Extending Reproductive Potential to Women over 40

Sauer, Mark V.; Paulson, Richard J.; Lobo, Rogerio A.

Background: Fertility in women 40 years of age or older is decreased, and in those with ovarian failure it is thought to be irrevocably lost. The donation of oocytes to young (<35 years old) women with ovarian failure has allowed many considered infertile a chance to become pregnant. In these women gonadal hormone replacement results in an endometrium receptive to implantation. It is not known whether the endometrial response to such replacement is decreased in women over the age of 40. Methods: To test the efficacy of oocyte donation to older women, we enrolled seven women 40 to 44 years old with ovarian failure in a trial of hormone replacement and embryo transfer, using oocytes obtained from women undergoing ovarian hyperstimulation solely for gamete donation. Results: Seven stimulated cycles in the donors that were synchronized with nine cycles in the recipients resulted in eight embryo transfers. Five viable pregnancies were established, one with twins. A sixth pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Five normal infants were delivered by cesarean section, and one stillborn infant was delivered vaginally. The outcomes were compared with those in women under the age of 40 with ovarian failure who were also participating in our donor-oocyte program and in infertile ovulating women 40 or older who were undergoing standard in vitro fertilization. No significant differences in rates of implantation or ongoing pregnancy were noted in older women as compared with younger women receiving donated embryos. These rates, however, were higher than the rates in the infertile ovulating women of similar age who were undergoing standard in vitro fertilization. Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that the endometrium retains its ability to respond to gonadal steroids and provides a receptive environment for embryo implantation and gestation even in older women.


Also Published In

New England Journal of Medicine

More About This Work

Academic Units
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Published Here
August 20, 2012