What’s Age Got to do With it? Your Eggs or Alternatives

Many couples today focus on becoming financially stable, progressing in their career, or buying a home, before they consider  becoming parents. In other cases, it may take years to find the Ms. or Mr. Right with whom to start a family, or illness may prevent one from starting a family. In short, there are a plethora of reasons people delay family formation. The hitch is, when the time finally is right, a woman may no longer be physically in her prime in terms of fertility. Assisted reproductive technology methods offer  hope to mature couples looking to build a family later in life, when conception may otherwise be a challenge.

Your biological clock is ticking… “A woman is born with about one million eggs, but by the time she has her first period the number has fallen to less than 400,000… by the time women enter their 40s most of their eggs will be of poor quality” Resolve. Waiting doesn’t mean a woman cannot get pregnant, but conceiving becomes increasingly difficult with age using natural or assisted reproductive technology methods.  The truth is, as a woman ages, her eggs age, too. Unfortunately, the quality of a woman’s eggs decreases over time, which decreases fertility and increases the risk during pregnancy.

What is the age limit when women can safely use their own eggs? Thirty-five is generally the age to discuss risks during pregnancy, potential complications with delivery, birth defects, and difficulties conceiving. However, many mothers today use in vitro fertilization to conceive well into their 40s. Most infertility clinics have an age limitation between 40 and 50 for patients who would like to use their own eggs, but women over age 35 should be made aware of the risks they face. Risks for couples who have children past age 35 include:

  • Higher rate of birth defects and miscarriages: As a woman ages, the quality of her eggs decreases. “Low quality eggs have internal defects – problems with their chromosomes or with their energy production – that prevent them from producing healthy embryos.” (Resolve). The risk of miscarriage for women increases dramatically as women age, too. The risk of miscarriage between ages 35 and 39 is 21 percent, but for women 44 to 46 the rate increases to 60 percent. (Fertility Authority)
  • Pregnancy related issues: Problems like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy or weakening of the heart and lungs occur more often in mothers over 35.
  • C-sections are more common: Aging bodies are less durable. The physical changes that come with carrying a child for 10 months can take a toll, which could cause trouble during pregnancy or delivery. “Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that might lead to a C-section delivery…” (Mayo Clinic).
  • Increased difficulties conceiving: Women over 35 may ovulate less often, and eggs may be more challenging to fertilize. Doctors recommend that, if a woman cannot conceive naturally within six months, it may be time to consider alternatives. (Mayo Clinic)

What are the alternatives when one is past the cut-off age? Assisted reproductive technology (ART) offers infertile couples options like egg donation, sperm donation, and in vitro fertilization to aid in their efforts to start a family. Generally, egg donors are between 21-30 years old and are required to pass physical and psychological tests before donating. Most fertility clinics will not use donor eggs over 30-35 because of possible complications for recipients. While there is no set regulation to monitor the age of egg and sperm donors, most agencies have strict policies for donors and will not accept applicants who do not fit the criteria. For more information regarding local fertility clinics in your state, visit the Fertility Authority website.

“About one-third of couples in which the woman is older than 35 years have fertility problems” (CDC).  For women over 35, alternatives to using their own eggs may be necessary to start a healthy family. However, fertility clinics are not all created equal. Be sure to find a specialist that is right for you and legal counsel that has your best interests in mind throughout the entire process. Here are a few resources that can help:


International Fertility Law Group:  International Fertility Law Group

Advanced Fertility:

Alternative Conceptions:


Fertility Authority:

Growing Generations:

Mayo Clinic:


Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.