How Age Affects Female Fertility

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Age And Female Fertility

Posted by The MAB Team on 7/25/2012 to Fertility

The older we get, the less fertile we become. But how does that actually happen physiologically?

In women, the ovaries of a female fetus while still in the womb (at about 12 weeks gestation) contain approximately 6-7 million immature eggs. At the time of birth, that number is reduced to about 2 million and continues to drop over time. It is believed that by the time a woman has her first menstrual cycle, her ovaries contain only 500,000 immature eggs.

This reduction occurs as a result of primordial follicles dying off over time. Primordial follicles are what house the immature eggs inside the ovaries. Only a select number of these primordial follicles survive and go on to become primary follicles, and later develop into secondary follicles. Then, only one or two of the secondary follicles actually become what is known as a ‘mature egg’ that can be ovulated.

Despite this perpetual reduction in egg count, women are at their fertility peak in their 20s. Typically female fertility begins to gradually decline in the mid-to-late 20s and then much more rapidly after the age of 35. In other words, the likelihood of becoming pregnant at the age of 30 is approximately 20%. By the age of 40 this statistic drops considerably to 5%. This is because the female reproductive system eventually begins to slow down, becomes less effective in healthy egg production and gradually responds less and less to the bodily hormones that assist the mature eggs with the ovulation process. This decline is completely natural, but can be hurried along with the help of unhealthy eating, a lack of exercise, disease, smoking, etc.

Not only are women between the ages 35-40 or older who are trying to conceive challenged by reduced egg production, trying to have a baby at this age increases the risk of genetic problems, birth defects and miscarriage. 1 in 378 women who are 35 years of age or older run the risk of having a baby with down syndrome. Statistically speaking, approximately 10% of pregnancies of women in their 20s end in miscarriage, 12% at 30, 18% at 35 and 34% at 40. What’s more, IVF treatment success rates plummet as well as a direct result of the reduction in healthy egg production that comes with age. That being said there are other options out there for those 35-40 years of age or older who want to have a baby, such as using donor eggs.

At any rate, women who have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more without success should visit their family doctor. He or she may offer other treatment options that may work. Keep in mind that we also sell a variety of high-quality, all-natural fertility aids and products for you to try. Check out our ‘Conception Aids’ drop down menu on our main page to learn more.

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