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Fertility and biological clock

A woman's fertility peaks in the early and mid-20s, after which it starts to decline, with advanced maternal age causing an increased risk of female infertility. This is popularly referred to as a woman's "biological clock". Women's fertility declines substantially after her mid-thirties but the speed of the drop differs for each individual. Mapping of a woman's ovarian reserve, follicular dynamics and associated biomarkers can give an individual prognosis about future chances of pregnancy, facilitating an informed choice of when to have children.

Age and female fertility encompasses a woman's fertility as affected by her age. A woman's fertility peaks in the early and mid-20s, after which it starts to decline, with advanced maternal age causing an increased risk of female infertility. This is popularly referred to as a woman's "biological clock". Another risk that increases significantly into the mother's midlife is chromosomal abnormalities, to include Down syndrome.

A woman's fertility peaks in her early and mid-20s, after which it starts to decline, with this decline being accelerated after age 35. However, the exact estimates of the chances of a woman to conceive after a certain age are not clear, with research giving differing results. The chances of a couple to successfully conceive at an advanced age depend on many factors, such as the general health of a woman and the fertility of the male partner.

According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, for women aged 35, about 94 out of every 100 who have regular unprotected sexual intercourse will get pregnant within 3 years of trying. For the women aged 38, however, only 77 out of every 100 will do so.

The term biological clock often brings up the image of a ticking time bomb that is the female reproductive system. Women in modern culture seek travel, an education and a career as most important part of her life. Hence it so happens that we get married or into the relationship very late in the life or we plan family late giving importance to other things in the life. As women get older, the choice of having a child may become more pressing. When we are aware of our biological clock, it is time to consciously choose and plan for our own family. Or else sometimes it's too late to be a mother.

More and more females prefer to have the baby later in the life due to the career or education or many times they don't get the right person to marry at the correct time. When it comes to issues of fertility, it is the age of the egg, not the age of the woman that matters most. Women are born with a finite number of eggs, around 1 million. At puberty, that number has dwindled to 400,000 and subsequently approximately 750 eggs are lost each month. The eggs not only begin to diminish in quantity, but also in quality.

The combination of these factors leads to a woman's fertility beginning to decline in her 20's and significantly deteriorating after age 35. That means that of the one to two million follicles, only about 400 eggs will ever mature. Hence it is important to consider the biological clock within women. By the age of 30 there is only 12 per cent left on average and by the age of 40 just three per cent. The research is the latest to warn women that they must not leave it too late to conceive or else they may have to struggle for parenthood.

Women's fertility declines substantially after her mid-thirties but the speed of the drop differ for each individual and many face heartache when they find they have left it too late. Some doctors have called for regular fertility screening in the same way women are screened for cervical cancer. It is a mistake on the part of the women to think that because they are still producing eggs that their fertility remains constant.

But the research shows that it declines rapidly. However it's not completely necessary that all females over 35 and 40 faces problem in conceiving. There are many instances where the women aged 40 or more have given birth to healthy babies normally in the first attempt. It is discovered that most women really don't understand how their own bodies work. Even those educated in health issues are often in the dark when it comes to their fertility. People worry because they don't know anything, they coast along not thinking about it, then they get to the age where it matters and they panic.

Know about your biological clock in advance

The key is to decide whether and when you want to have children, not based on menopause, but based on your personal biology. It is suggested to get blood test of your follicle-stimulating hormone levels around age 35. Yearly tests thereafter will track the levels of the hormone in your blood stream. As those levels go up, your fertility goes down. Although this measures egg quantity rather than quality, it'll help you and your doctor to get a better idea of how much time you have left to conceive naturally.

The early onset of biological clock in females is also dependent on following factors

  1. Your personal danger age could also be down to genetics. Fertility experts suggest looking at your mother. The important thing is to ask your mother at what age your mother had the menopause as this may be the same for you. The decline occurs when the quality of the eggs is diminished with age, and this is usually in the late thirties to early forties. However this is just to consider your family history.


    But just because you're still having periods, it doesn't mean that you'll get pregnant easily. Nature plays a cruel trick in that women tend to go on having periods long after they have ceased to ovulate. The ovulation mechanism becomes faulty and the egg quality is very poor long before a woman reaches her menopause, and a woman may no longer be fertile for up to ten years before she has her last period. The average age for menopause is about 51, but many women will have a much earlier menopause.

    2) The present lifestyle may affect the future infertility. Women under 30 often don't realize how their lifestyles might affect their future fertility. Smokers are particularly at risk of ending up with more damaged eggs, sooner. Smoking, or even inhaling secondhand smoke as a child, can alter egg cells, leaving them incapable of being fertilized or of growing properly once they are matured. If you're reaching 35 or 40 and you've spent the last 20 years smoking, you may be in trouble while getting pregnant.

    3) Eggs are delicate cells in female body. They can be damaged in several ways: By excessive exercise or eating disorders, which often drastically alter hormone levels and menstrual cycles; by childhood obesity, which can lead to an increase in a woman's testosterone levels; and by venereal diseases that might not display any other symptoms. Women who find out about these factors after they start trying to conceive are bound to feel stressed and even angry. That's why it is important that fertility education should be a part of basic sex education.

    Educate yourself about the fertility treatments, what is biological clock, onset of biological clock and difference between information and misinformation related to biological clock. For those who are beginners in this journey don't believe everything you read in the tabloids. Have a good research accompanied by consultation with OB-GYN. Over the course of the past five to 10 years, late-in-life miracle babies have been a major feature of popular celebrity magazines.

Taken together, these stories leave women with the impression that modern science has conquered the biological clock, that all they have to do is to go in for in vitro fertilisation and they can have a baby (or two!) after 40, without any problems. People are fairly mistaken here. They think it's easy but those babies are with donor eggs. Egg donation is wonderful and thousands of babies are born that way. The use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in the form of IVF can help you with your eggs and with donor eggs.

Nowadays it is possible for the women to safeguard their younger, healthier eggs for the time when they are ready to start their families. The Ooctye cryo-preservation slows the biological clock and increases the chances of having a genetically-linked child after the age 40. Having the option to plan for future motherhood is expected to appeal to a broad range of women- from cancer patients facing chemotherapy and women facing family histories of pre-mature ovarian failure, to single, professional women and couples starting their families later in life.

Dr. Gautam Allahbadia is an IVF, Fertility and Infertility Specialist in Mumbai, India and runs the clinic Rotunda - The Center For Human Reproduction. Dr. Gautam says infertility can be one of the most stressful situations you may encounter, emotionally, physically and sometimes financially. He advises for older womens facing infertility due to the biological clock onset, the best things women can do to try to protect their fertility and prolong chances of conceiving later on are getting checked regularly for STIs (chlamydia and gonorrhoea can damage your fallopian tubes), maintaining a healthy weight, drinking sensibly and avoiding smoking.

Rotunda Clinic is dedicated to help women's through revolutionary science and unparalleled service that gives women the option to effectively slow down the biological clock. They bring together latest ART related technologies, medical care and Ooctye storage facilities. Rotunda Clinic offers women the leading fertility preservation experience available today.