1 July 2009
Stop the clock and preserve your fertility
Twenty years ago, most women would have had their children by the age of 35. However these days, an established career and financial stability tend to come first before motherhood.
No one is saying that deciding to delay motherhood is right or wrong, but the fact is, biology is unchanged, and this decision will have a significant impact on their ability to fall pregnant.
A woman is born with a finite amount of eggs and as she ages the quality and quantity of the eggs will decline. The body naturally assumes that we will have our children early, and eggs produced towards the end of our reproductive life have a greater evidence of genetic errors.
When a woman is in her 20s or 30s, she will likely have a larger proportion of good eggs. However, when a woman is in her late 30s and 40s, the proportion of bad eggs is likely to be greater.
Egg quality refers to the capacity of the eggs to become fertilised and develop into healthy embryos with the ability to implant and result in an ongoing pregnancy. Technically, poor egg quality is often the result of an age related decrease in the energy supplied by the mitochondria. This means that eggs which may have been considered healthy at a younger age may not have the ability to develop into an embryo as the woman ages.
Egg quality is directly related to fertility. The quality of a woman’s egg will determine her ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Most women spend a large proportion of their adult life trying NOT to fall pregnant, while they wait for the right partner or until they are ready. Many women then find that when the time is right to have a child, they have difficulty conceiving.
Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle up until the time a woman is ready to have children, there is something she can do to preserve her fertility. Women who, by choice or otherwise, are not in a position to start their family until later in life, can take out an ‘insurance policy’ of sorts. Egg freezing is a medical breakthrough which will radically affect women and expand their reproductive choices.
Women can make the decision to freeze their eggs at a younger age and be assured that these eggs will be available to use later, when the time is right for them to have their family.