February 10, 2010
Last week a new study reported that women lose an average of 90% of their eggs by the time they reach age 30. Now, I know that fertility decreases with age, but since when was 30 a cut-off? I’m in my early 30s and don’t yet have kids… but I thought I had few more good years left!
After my momentary panic, I consulted Dr. William Schoolcraft, director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. He eased my fears a bit while reminding me that yes, the clock is indeed ticking. Here’s what I learned:
- This study was based on a mathematical model, which has its limitations. (Researchers used mathematical tools to try to predict how many eggs a woman, on average, would have left at different ages, but this is by no means a perfect science. They didn’t actually test real women to see how many eggs they had.)
- Fertility does start declining at 30, but the big drop-off is still at age 35. Also, Dr. Schoolcraft points out that although a 30-year old may only have 10% of her eggs left, 10% of the original number is 30,000 eggs. Not bad!
- Women (based on age) are still considered low-risk for pregnancy complications until 35.
- Don’t think you can wait forever: It may seem like everyone is waiting longer to have kids, but the biological clock is real. “If you are married and in a position to have a baby, don’t delay,” says Dr. Schoolcraft. No matter your age, he also recommends visiting a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to get pregnant naturally for one year and haven’t had any luck (only wait 6 months if you’re over 35).
Learn more about preserving your fertility at FertilityLifelines.com.
Barbara Brody, Health Editor
Woman’s Day Daily Dose