Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Are you losing eggs after 30?

It is true that the biological clock of a woman ticks faster and louder with each passing year. But another parallel truth is that women are born with about 100,000 eggs, so the length of a woman's cycle, whether longer or shorter, does not predict a woman's fertility. Women lose eggs while they are busy racking up life experiences in their 20s. But, what matters more is not the quantity of eggs a woman loses but the quality of eggs she is left with. It depends on variety of factors including the genetics, and the habits.

It is tough to determine the pivotal age of a woman when her child bearing years actually end, but the there is a steady decline in production of ovarian eggs with biological clock ticking fast at 30. For women, who value their professional mobility tend to forget bitter truth about natural fertility, which declines through a woman's 30s and 40s. Quality ovarian eggs deteriorate with age and women find it difficult to conceive in during late 30s. 

By the time a woman turns 40, she is left with only 3 per cent quality eggs. 90 per cent eggs are lost throughout the biological cycle, which starts the day she hits puberty. Women, who tend to shelve the idea of getting pregnant before their escalating career increase the risk of having complications in conceiving. But women above 35 do not need to abandon the hope of having children as there are chances of conceiving through IVF.

Potential decline in ovarian reserve is directly proportional to age. While most of the women continue to produce eggs throughout their 30s and 40s, the reservoir of potential eggs shrinks to produce eggs that might give them problems while conceiving. With the approach of menopause, sometimes at mid-40s, women experience rapid decline of store and production of eggs. Healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance per month of becoming pregnant, while a 40-year-old woman has about a 5 percent chance per month.  

Ways to slow the ticking of biological clock

Women are you nervous listening to the tick-tick-tick of biological clock but there are no scientific ways or pills to retain the fertility but certain controlling obesity, stress and smoking can control the harmful effects on fertility. Women who have more pregnancies are fertile for longer, and some women are born with more eggs than others, she said. The more eggs with which a woman is born, the longer she will be fertile and more time she will have until the onset of menopause. 

Women’s egg count

Other than some indirect methods like ultrasound to measure size and volume in ovaries or blood tests that checks the hormone levels, there are no methods to calculate exact number of eggs in a women.

It is important to know that women in the 19-26 age groups have double the chance of conceiving each menstrual cycle compared to women between 35 and 39 years old. Age is the most powerful predictor of fertility and women need to be more “fertility aware”, especially about the factors that reduce the ovarian reserve.

Dr Neeraj Pahlajani


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