A lot of women blissfully live in the misconception that they will be able to produce healthy eggs all their lives or at least until menopause. What they do not understand or know is that eggs are present in limited amounts in their ovaries and deplete not only in number but also in quality over time. Hence, the restricted numbers of eggs they are left with later in life are, additionally, incompetent when it comes to getting fertilized.
The low quality and quantity of eggs makes it difficult for women in their 30s to get pregnant. Infertility treatments such as test tube baby treatments or IVF treatments do not affect the chances of implantation or miscarriage, but they do make good use of the limited amounts of eggs present in the ovaries.
Women are born with over a million immature eggs. As they reach puberty, their body starts expelling each unused mature egg out of the body causing loss of eggs. Eventually, the amount of eggs in the reserve drops down to10,000 – 11,000 around menopause. Later, the quality of these eggs also depletes starting from the late thirties and only ends at menopause. This happens as the depletion in the quality and quantity of the eggs increases in speed around the age of 38-39 and brings menopause closer. This process is promoted by some lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, inactivity and exposure to other forms of narcotics and medications that affect fertility negatively.
Chromosomal abnormalities in eggs increase considerably with age. Furthermore, eggs cannot be regenerated or in simple words, brought back to life. Hence, if a patient owns a restricted reserve of eggs and still intends to get pregnant, the only choice she is left with is going for a donor egg. Due to this fact, women in their mid 30s are recommended to visit a fertility specialist if they are unable to conceive even after 6 months of regular, unprotected intercourse. On the other hand, women in their 40s and over must seek an infertility specialist on an urgent basis.
Another fact that works against women with weakening eggs is the complicated process of human reproduction. In the process, a million sperms that reach the uterus after ejaculation must flow deeper into the uterus through the vaginal canal to reach the singular egg released by the ovaries near the fallopian tubes. Now one sperm must pierce through the hard egg shell to fertilize it to form an embryo. No wonder pregnancy requires a lot of trials and months of efforts.
Can we test eggs for quality?
Egg quality can be tested quite effectively through many ovarian reserve tests that are done by fertility specialists to determine the remaining egg supply. Antral follicle counts can be estimated via an ultrasound on day-3 while FSH testing and AMH level testing can help estimate the ovarian reserve.
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