Infertility: Aging Egg Supply
From birth, females have a fixed—though plentiful—supply of eggs (ovarian reserve). As a woman ages past her mid-30s, her eggs gradually degrade, making it less likely that she will naturally conceive, or that an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure will result in pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Among Canadian women younger than 35, 38 out of 100 give birth for each ART cycle . As women age, the live ART birth rate gradually drops:footnote 1
- To 28 out of 100 for women ages 35 to 39.
- To 11 out of 100 for women 40 and older.
Many women over age 40 choose to use donor eggs, which greatly improves their chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
While there is no definitive test of ovarian reserve, a woman's follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level can be measured to evaluate how well her ovaries are working. A high FSH level is a sign that the body is trying to stimulate the ovaries to make more egg follicles, but the ovaries are not responding and conception is unlikely.
A woman's FSH level can be tested using a blood sample:
- Early in her menstrual period, around day 3.
- Before and after a clomiphene challenge test, early in her menstrual period.
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- Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (2013). Human assisted reproduction 2013 live birth rates for Canada. Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. http://www.cfas.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1205%3Alive-birth-rates-2013&catid=929%3Apress-releases&Itemid=130. Accessed December 19, 2013.
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of: May 22, 2015
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