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How Age Affects Fertility

How age affects fertility—time is not on your side

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Did you know that women are born with all the eggs or oocytes they’ll ever have? Unlike men, who continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, a woman’s egg supply is finite. With each passing birthday, the health and quantity of eggs dwindles proving that time is not on your side. It’s important to our Austin fertility specialists to educate women on how age affects fertility, and what they can do now to increase their chances for conceiving.

How age affects fertility and your egg supply

When you’re born, you have approximately 5-7 million eggs stored in your ovaries. That may sound like an amazingly high number, but by the time you reach puberty that number drops significantly to around 300,000-500,000. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), of the remaining eggs at puberty, about 300 will be ovulated throughout the course of a woman’s reproductive years. So what happens to all those eggs? A great number are gradually lost through the natural degenerating process known as atresia.

Grading egg quality

As we all know, the natural aging process affects many things—skin, energy levels, metabolism, and our body shape and size. What women may not know is that it also affects both the quantity and the quality of a woman’s eggs. Younger eggs have a better chance for pregnancy, birth and a healthy child. Fertility starts to decline in the 30s, and drops significantly after age 37. By the time a woman reaches 40, she has a less than 5% chance for getting pregnant each cycle.

As a woman gets older, her eggs are more susceptible to genetic abnormalities that can cause her to produce embryos with aneuploidy (too many or too few chromosomes). Most embryos with too many or too few chromosomes do not result in pregnancy at all or result in miscarriage.

What can you do?

While women are most fertile during their 20s, many are not ready to start having a family yet. Personal, medical or financial reasons lead many to hit the pause button on having children. Is it possible to preserve your fertility? While you can’t stop the hands of time, you can freeze them, or rather, your eggs through a process called oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing. This promising technique extracts and freezes your eggs so they can be used when the time is right to have a baby.

If your dream is to have a child, but just not right now, contact us to learn what proactive approach you can take to make sure time doesn’t run out.

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