Did you know that in the US alone, more than six million women of childbearing age find it hard to conceive?
In one-third of cases, these difficulties have something to do with male infertility. But in another third of cases, it’s the women who have the issue. And for the most part, it’s because of aging, which depletes a woman’s ovarian reserves.
So, the big question is, how many eggs does a woman have in her lifetime anyway? Is aging the only culprit that reduces egg count? And do women with infertility problems still have hope?
This post will answer all these questions, so be sure to keep reading!
How Many Eggs Does a Woman Have in Her Lifetime: From Millions to a Few Hundred
You read that right! Female fetuses start their life with millions of eggs (medically known as “oocytes”). As she gets older, this number goes down considerably until it vanishes completely.
That said, the answer to the question, “how many eggs do women have?”, depends on their age. Let’s take a closer look at how many oocytes women have from before they’re born until they’re in their 50s.
Before birth, a female fetus has around six to seven million eggs. The creation of these eggs usually occurs during the 20th week of fetal development.
One to two million oocytes in each ovary – that’s how many eggs women are born with.
By the time a girl hits the puberty age, she would have 300,000 eggs remaining. However, only 300 to 500 of these female eggs go through ovulation.
By Age 30
Once a woman gets into her thirties, only about 10% of the eggs she was originally born with will remain.
By Age 40
At this point, a woman would only have 3% of the millions of eggs she had at birth.
The average menopausal age is 51 years. By this time, a woman would only have 1,000 ovarian follicles remaining. A follicle is a sac-like structure filled with fluid and it’s in here where a female egg matures.
Factors That Contribute to Premature Egg Count Decrease
Aging is the main natural cause of reduced egg reserves. However, there are several other reasons why a woman’s egg count may go down sooner.
With over 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, there’s no doubt that smoking can kill eggs. Some of these toxins, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are deadly to oocytes.
Endometriosis is a disorder that affects 10% to 20% of childbearing women in the US. It’s a painful condition that results in tissue growing outside of the uterus. It can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and sometimes even the pelvis.
Many studies have already linked this disorder to lower egg reserves. However, it also appears to diminish the quality of existing eggs.
Previous research found that people with autoimmune diseases have ovarian antibodies. The inflammation these diseases cause appears to affect the ovarian reserve.
Conception Is Still Possible for Women with Infertility Issues
The fact that female infertility is common has given birth to egg donation programs. Fertile women can donate an oocyte to help infertile women conceive.
These programs are often a critical component of assisted reproductive technology (ART). You can learn more about becoming an egg donor here.
Keep Your Eggs Healthy and Abundant for a Safer, Easier Pregnancy
There you have it, your ultimate answer guide to the question, how many eggs does a woman have in her lifetime? And now that you know, you can better plan your own pregnancy. Or, you can even help other women realize their dreams of motherhood by donating one of your eggs!
What’s important is to stay away from unhealthy habits, such as smoking and drinking, if you want to get pregnant. Remember: these can kill your eggs and deplete your reserves even before you hit your 40s.
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