The advancements in modern reproductive medicine are amazing and this week they are getting a lot of attention as a 74-year-old woman in India just gave birth to twins.
You read that right. 74 years old.
The Washington Post reports the babies each weigh 2.2 pounds and that the mother, Mangayamma Yaramati, is recovering from the C-section. "The mother and the babies are doing well," Yaramati's doctor, Uma Sankar, told the BBC.
Yaramati told the BBC that she and her 82-year-old husband always wanted children but could not conceive, something they say they were ridiculed for in their home town. "They would call me a childless lady," Yaramati said, adding that she saw numerous doctors before becoming pregnant in her 70s and that "this is the happiest time of my life."
While Yaramati carried the twin girls, they are not her biological daughters. They were reportedly conceived via in vitro fertilization using a donor egg and the sperm of Yaramati's octogenarian husband.
Ethicists are concerned about the medical care that made this pregnancy possible.
We spoke with our resident midwife and Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, for some additional info on the fascinating story. Here's what she had to say:
"When we hear a story like this, one of the first questions might be: But wait, hasn't she gone through menopause? How can she get pregnant? That's where the IVF comes in.
"After menopause, women do not ovulate (release eggs) anymore. But Ms. Yaramati used donor eggs through IVF, so ovulation wasn't necessary. Once the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, the pregnancy can progress normally if everything else is healthy. There are a number of other post-menopausal hormonal changes that could impact the body's ability to support a pregnancy, but Ms. Yaramati's doctors were likely monitoring her closely and supporting her body's needs.
"Whenever stories like this come up, people often get vocal about ethical concerns—and I get it. But here's the thing: None of us are Ms. Yaramati, which means none of us have the right to judge or make commentary on her decisions.
"If you are interested in exploring your fertility options at any age, your best bet is to meet with a fertility specialist; and to remember that you can also seek a second or third opinion if you are unhappy with what they say."
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