At what age should you worry about your fertility?

As many women enter the workforce and choose to delay starting a family until “the time is right”, women in their 30s and beyond are unaware that they are born with only
a certain number of eggs. The number of eggs gradually decreases in number and quality as they grow older, and as a result, so are their chances of getting pregnant.

Women at birth have between 1-2 million eggs, but by puberty, this number decreases to 300-400 thousand. By age 37, most women only have 35,000 eggs left. Not only do they lose eggs, but the eggs also age and diminish in quality. These therefore function less well and result in subfertility and increases one’s chances of miscarriages and chromosomal
abnormalities like Down’s syndrome.

This is unfortunately a natural process of aging but in a society where career and financial stability is highly valued, finding the right partner often happens later in life.

So what can we do for women hoping to start a family after their window of optimal fertility has passed? When is this window and can we find this out? If this has passed, what can we do?

Evaluation is the first step and here at Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics. Our fertility specialist can evaluate your potential to conceive and help treat any reversible causes like low thyroid or subfertile sperm.

If the plan is to delay pregnancy, egg freezing has become a real possibility for many women.

Egg freezing has now revolutionized female fertility preservation and has given women more options. While it is not a 100% guarantee, many factors affect the overall
outcome, including the age of the eggs, which in turn influences the quality. Many women who come hoping to freeze their eggs are not even aware if there may be other
preexisting problems that can make conception difficult.

When you are ready to proceed, a preconception evaluation is crucial in ruling out any underlying diseases that may impact on your ability to conceive. Treatment of such conditions will certainly improve your overall chances.

The technique of egg freezing is more difficult than other assisted reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmc sperm injection (ICSI) because the process of freezing and thawing often damages the egg.

Without a definite plan to conceive, egg freezing is a good option to preserve female fertility and research has made this possible now.

If egg freezing is not an option, using frozen donor eggs is another approach with high success rates. Although the technology is there, one must be aware that success is not guaranteed. The younger you are when you start, the more options we can offer you in managing your infertility.

So the message is to start early, get a proper evaluation and make a plan to preserve and maintain your potential to conceive for the future.

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