It seems like everywhere you look, there are new theories about maximizing a woman's likelihood to get pregnant. It's often been thought that a woman's fertility is heavily determined by the number of eggs she has left, and once she runs out, that is when infertility occurs.
However, infertility can be caused by a variety of different factors, and a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that a low egg count is not one of them.
Are women waiting too long to conceive?
In recent years, women have been waiting longer to have children and start a family than in the past few centuries. This is driven by societal changes and the growing educational and professional options that women have. This is great, but as women age, their egg count naturally decreases over time; women are born with a set number of eggs that decreases with every menstrual cycle. For those women looking to conceive in their 30s and 40s, it's logical to think that it may be more difficult because the woman has fewer eggs--but wait--that's not quite it.
Egg count is not as vital in determining fertility as we may think
You've heard it a million times "it's quality, not quantity", that matters. The same goes for your eggs. Most women are releasing one egg a month for about thirty years of their lives, which means that even in your 30s and 40s, you still are releasing eggs in the same manner as in your 20s! A study led by doctors and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill compared 750 women between the ages of thirty and forty-four, and found that the women with diminished egg reserves had the same chances of getting pregnant as the women with normal egg counts. It only takes one healthy egg to get pregnant, no matter how old you are.
Knowing if your eggs are healthy, and your next steps
Now that you know it may not be the best use of your time and energy to invest in tests that gauge your ovarian reserves, what's next? For women worried about whether they are still fertile, the best (and most fun way) to conceive is to just try! For couple consistently trying and still struggling to get pregnant, it may be time to consult a fertility specialist. A fertility specialist can use IVF to determine any issues with healthy eggs or embryos, implantation issues, or other underlying causes of fertility.
Thanks to medical advancements, women can now rest assured that aging and a reduced egg count may not be the biggest factor in determining fertility. So give it a shot! Family planning is an important decision, and for those struggling to conceive in their preferred way, there's always professionals to lean on for a little help.