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Female Fertility Facts

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system and impacts men and women equally. Recent studies estimate that about 1 in 6 child-bearing aged couples in the United States suffer from infertility. Evaluating the states served most by MCRM Fertility (Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Kansas and Arkansas), it is estimated that approximately 715, 000 women of child-bearing age suffer from a form of infertility.

Some of the causes of infertility in females include:

  • Ovulation Disorders
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine or Cervical Causes
  • Blockage of the Fallopian Tubes
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Risk factors for Female Infertility:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Weight
  • Stress

Understanding the Biological Clock

Do You Know What Time It Is?

Knowing  the time of one's individual Biological Clock is very important. This is easily determined through simple evaluation. Fertility screening is highly recommended for ALL women aged 20 and older who wish to bear children.

The "Biological Clock" refers to the concept of "ovarian reserve" or simply the total number of follicles one has left on the ovaries.

A woman has the MOST eggs she will ever have when she is in her mother's uterus at about 20 weeks of pregnancy. (i.e. roughly 20 weeks before she is even born). There is approximately a total of seven million immature eggs at this time. The eggs are continuously being lost from that point on, even though there is no menses. The number of eggs a woman has at birth will have reduced to approximately two million. By the time a woman has her first menstrual cycle, on average at age 11-12 years, she has lost approximately 75% or more of the total number of eggs she started with leaving an estimated 400,000 eggs in the ovaries. From that point on, every menstrual cycle, if the cycles are regular, the woman produces a group of early eggs referred to as a cohort of antral follicles. This is the number of follicles that have potential to grow and ovulate in any one menstrual cycle. Typically, of course, only one from the cohort does grow and ovulate. The rest die off.

There is a certain number in this cohort of antral follicles each month. A woman of young age will have a larger number in the cohort than an older woman. The number of antral follicles in this cohort is relatively stable from month-to-month and does not fluctuate substantially. However, over a period of several months or a year, the number of follicles in the cohort can be expected to decrease. That is to say, over time, the number of follicles/eggs in the cohort will decrease. This decrease is the "biologic clock', also referred to as " ovarian aging ". It is inevitable that the number of follicles will decrease with time, one cannot change this from happening.

After the age of 35, the rate at which the number of follicles are lost increases. Thus, after the age of 35, on average, a woman will lose eggs faster than she did previously, at a younger age. Ultimately, on average, around the age of 50, there will be no follicles or eggs left in the cohort. This is referred to as menopause.

Importance of Knowing Your Biological Clock Time:

Knowing the time of YOUR biological clock allows you the opportunity to plan and prepare for your fertility future. The biological clock will tick at different rates for each woman. For those women whose clock ticks faster than average, an earlier consideration of managing their future fertility is advised. This can include the use of oocyte “egg” freezing to preserve one’s fertility potential for the future. Another option may be to consider child-bearing earlier than previously considered.

How to Evaluate Your Biological Clock Time:

Discovering the time of YOUR biological clock is completed with some simple assessments and doesn’t even require a visit to a reproductive specialist as the simple screening can also be completed with your OB/GYN. This simple assessment includes the evaluation of several hormone levels including anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH).