Women losing their precious eggs fast, now what to do?
Dr. Monica Sachdeva
Swaroop nagar, Kanpur Aug 2, 2019
We all know women have a "biological clock" and it keeps on ticking. The older women get, the fewer chances to get pregnant. In this matter, men are luckier than women, and ageing effects them late and less than women.
Women are born with a limited supply of eggs, and the amount has to run out someday. When a woman is in the womb, her eggs begin to form. By 20 weeks' gestation, the tiny developing ovaries in a human fetus contain about five million eggs (the technical names for which are gametes, oogonia or oocytes). This is the maximum number of eggs a female will ever have because new eggs stop forming after pregnancy period like before.
For reasons that are still unclear, more than two-thirds of these newly made eggs degenerate in the following months, leaving a much smaller supply of eggs at birth. The number of eggs at birth is from half to one million.
The eggs present at birth constitute the only supply of eggs a woman will have in her lifetime. This stockpile of eggs, which is called the ovarian reserve, is housed in structures called primordial follicles.
Although quite a few follicles (30-40) start to develop in waves before each ovulation, usually only one follicle makes it to ovulation to release an egg. The rest degenerate over the six-to-eight-week development phase. So a woman ovulates only about 400 eggs during her reproductive life. It is about 1% of the pool of follicles ever produced.
By the age of 30, women will have on average only 12% of the number of eggs they had at birth. This number is still sufficient to support fertility for the next few years, provided the ovary is not subjected to external influences such as cancer drugs or serious ovarian surgery or any prolonged illness.
Nowadays, poor quality and a reduced number of eggs are a significant cause of infertility. Already women had a limited number of eggs, the growing stress and pollution are further jeopardising the ovarian reserve. Disease like endometriosis and genital tuberculosis are damaging ovaries and reducing the fertility power of eggs.
Now, what to do?
1. Consult a fertility consultant if after one year of unprotected intercourse, there is no pregnancy or after six months if the age of a woman is >35 years.
2.Assessment of ovarian reserve and a proactive approach to deal with it.
3. Accept IVF in early treatment course as timely action enhances the success rate even if the ovarian reserve is low.
4. Adopt egg freezing if delaying conception or before cancer treatment.
5. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by having nutritious food and avoiding tobacco, recreational drugs and alcohol to prevent ovarian debacle.
The procedures required to create new eggs out of stem cells are very complex and still experimental. Until such a time, all women and men must understand the limitations of the fertility of women and plan their lives to take full advantage of the fertile lifespan should they choose to have children.
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