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How Many Eggs Do You Have?

March 2, 2010
Source: CBS - WJZ

Report: Women Lose 90 Percent Of Eggs By Age 30

Scientists have come up with a new cold, hard mathematical fact: women lose 90 percent of their eggs by age 30.

As CBS station WJZ-TV explains, it's information that might not be the news older women want to hear.

The new mathematical model shows the biological clock that some women hear ticking around the age of 30 is ticking very loudly.

Tiny egg cells hold the potential, the promise of life. But what many women don't realize is that the depletion of eggs is a lifelong trend.

"As women age, the number of eggs in the ovary decreases and so does fertility," said Dr. Eugene Katz, Shady Grove Fertility at GBMC.

"This really is an issue even if you're in perfect health, you exercise, run marathons," said Dr. Robert Brzyski, fertility specialist at the U.T. Health Science Center. "It doesn't help with the loss of eggs and your fertility with age."

One study found by the time a woman reaches the age of 30, she has only 12 percent of her eggs. By 40, only 3 percent. 

Meanwhile, the average age of first-time mothers in the U.S. keeps going up. In 1970, it was 21. In 2006, it was 25.

Some women who put off pregnancy because of schooling, careers or finances are sorely disappointed to find out they struggle to conceive.

Katz says couples who have had unprotected sex for a year without getting pregnant are infertile. It may be time for a semen analysis, blood work to determine the age of a woman's eggs and an X-ray to determine if the fallopian tubes are open.

He says most couples can move from infertile to fertile without in vitro fertilization.  Sometimes it's as simple as losing or gaining weight or avoiding alcohol. There are also other options. 

"Patients who do not ovulate can be helped with just medications. Women with blocked tubes can have surgery.  Not everyone needs in vitro fertilization," said Katz. 

Another option for women is freezing their eggs in their 20s and 30s for future use, which can cost between $7,000-$8,000.

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