Life is long; but Fertility is Short

Saturday, 17 June 2017 Written by  Super User

Just when you're leaning in to your life, you can start hearing it in the distance: the drumbeat of fertility anxiety. Your drive and ambition could be earning plenty of wins, but people still whisper that your biological clock is ticking and your ovaries are shriveling, so if you don't lock down a baby daddy and procreate before your early 30s, you might never be able to.

No matter how healthy you are, age-related infertility is impossible to slow down. You're born with all the eggs you will ever produce. The quantity of eggs decreases by hundreds every month.

Furthermore, as you age, so do the eggs in your ovaries. All of these factors combined make age-related infertility a serious reality for many women today. So here's a quick "Know How" from CheQKmate on what you should be aware of about your age and chance of getting pregnant.

What time is it? Ask your biological clock!!!

Fertility levels start to drop when women reaches 30, with a steeper decline five years later. Many experts contend that 27 is the optimum age to try for a baby. The graph below depicts the decline in fertility with age.

Why does fertility decrease so rapidly with age?

Aging decreases a woman's fertility in following ways -

  • She has a smaller number of eggs left
  • Her eggs are not as healthy
  • She is more likely to have fallopian tube blockages
  • Likelihood of a miscarriage increases with age.

At CheQKmate, we help you assess your fertility status so that you can consider the right treatment options at the right time.

Is female age more important than the age of male?

Females are born with a limited number of eggs. Some of them are spent every month. The older you get, the lower your chance of getting pregnant since egg depletion occurs rapidly every year after the age of 30.

Aging in male is also known to decrease fertility but the correlation is not as strong as it is with the female. You may see a 50 year old man fathering a child, but it is highly unlikely to find a 50 year old woman carrying a baby (without treatment).

Does unhealthy lifestyle cause premature ovarian aging?

One of the most important and scientifically proven factors for premature ovarian aging is cigarette smoking. Cigarette Smoking not only blows away smoke but also your chance of fertility by more than 50%.

Environmental toxins including pesticides, herbicides, chemicals & plastics are also known to affect the ovarian reserve. Incessant use of hi-tech gadgets like laptops / smartphone / tablets also results in premature ovarian aging. Even chemical loaded make-up products are considered to be the culprit.

Any other factors that cause premature ovarian aging?

Factors that will speed up ovarian aging are -

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation to the pelvis
  • Extensive ovarian surgery
  • Family history of early menopause

Is 30s the new 20s?

Yes - Unless you are planning for a baby. The average age of a woman giving birth these days is 30, almost one in five births occur in women 35 years or older. For many of us, the "right" time to start focusing on having a family is the same time that our fertility is ending.

At CheQKmate, we help couples understand how age can affect fertility, pregnancy and childbirth, and to what extent medical technologies can help.

What is Ovarian Reserve?

Ovarian Reserve basically is the quantity of eggs remaining in the ovaries at any given point of time. In every cycle, one egg ovulates and at the same time hundreds of other follicles (which do not ovulate) disintegrate. This leads to depletion of eggs. The rate of depletion of eggs varies from woman to woman; hence the ovarian reserve may be different for two women of same age. The process of depletion continues even when the woman is pregnant or on the birth control pill. It is inevitable and irreversible. Although each woman is slightly different, we can't slow the process down, and there are no proven medications that will let us put the process on "pause" to save eggs for later.

No. of eggs at different phases of life

No. of eggs at different phases of life

Why measure Ovarian Reserve?

Measuring ovarian reserve

  • Gives a good insight about current fertility status
  • Gives indication about success of the fertility treatment.
  • Gives a good idea about future fertility in women who are planning to delay matrimony or childbirth.

At CheQKmate, we offer you blood work as well as ultrasound to determine your ovarian reserve.

Is there any way to improve ovarian reserve?

Unfortunately, probably not. The number of eggs in each ovary is determined at birth and gradually reduces with age. Lifestyle alterations including cessation of cigarette smoking can stall the egg depletion to a certain extent. Recent studies suggest that DHEA may be helpful in specific groups of women.

What options do I have, if my ovarian reserve is poor?

In general, more aggressive treatment is considered than for couples with normal ovarian reserve. Whatever options couples are offered, they must consider –

  • The need to accept that it may not be possible to conceive with woman's own eggs
  • The need to try with the woman's own eggs,
  • Cost/benefit ratio for treatment with a poor prognosis.

My mother had an early menopause. What is my risk?

If your mother had experienced a premature menopause, you have a higher than normal chance of being infertile by mid to late thirties. At Cheqkmate, lot of couples who come for pre-marital / pre-conceptional counseling are made aware of this risk so that they can take the right decision at the right time.

What is AMH?

AMH (Antimullerian hormone) is a hormone produced by ovarian follicles. The amount of AMH directly reflects level of fertility in women. Testing AMH levels also helps in determining the best possible treatment for infertility. Cheqkmate offers you Fertility Fitness Program to assess your fertility status.

When can AMH testing be performed?

AMH testing can be done at any time of the menstrual cycle. Unlike other tests to determine fertility status which are cycle dependent, AMH testing need not be planned on any specific day of the cycle. 

Will DHEA be helpful for me?

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) enhances follicle and egg development, which can potentially increase the number of follicles in the ovary. A few clinical studies have demonstrated that DHEA taken prior to IVF treatment may improve ovarian reserve and possibly the number and quality of embryos. Definitive evidence for the role of DHEA is still awaited.

Infertility management is Time management. Is it so?

Indeed. Time management is extremely important for infertile couple because any treatment is right only if it is done at the right time. A treatment option that may seem right today may not continue to be so after a couple of years.

At CheQKmate, we discuss the most appropriate treatment options for your age to maximize your chance of conception.

How old is too old for IVF?

There is no upper age limit at which IVF should not be done - and in fact for older women, it might represent their only chance of success. One has to weigh not only the success of IVF but also the health risk it may entail in older age women.

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