Today more and more couples are waiting until after 35 to begin their families. There are many pros and cons to this. While more people are ready for the responsibility that comes with raising a child when they are older, as well as more financially prepared, they also can have a harder time getting pregnant than those who are younger.
There are assumptions that people do not realize when it comes to getting pregnant. One of them is that the older a woman is when she tries to get pregnant, the harder it can be for many reasons. These reasons can include lowered ovarian reserve, diminished egg quality, and sperm issues.
How Many Eggs do you Really Need?
It only takes one egg, right? Well, yes and no. While there is only one to two eggs per cycle that mature enough to be released in ovulation, the process starts out with between 16 and 30 eggs. This is called antral follicle count. If the count is lower, then a woman could not have many eggs left.
Every woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. By the time she begins ovulating, she will have already lost half her supply. Each month from her first menses until menopause she will start out each cycle with many immature eggs and follicles. As she ages the number will become lower and lower and the older eggs will of lesser quality than those she releases in her teens and twenties. While it only takes one to be released, the fewer eggs you have at the beginning of your cycle, the less likely you will be able to get one to mature to ovulation.
Since it is the actual follicle that makes estrogen, the number of follicles will determine if you get a mature egg or not. Follicle Stimulating Hormone – FSH – is made in the brain and is absorbed into the ovaries. This tells them to make eggs. Each egg is in a follicle and produces estrogen to be carried back to the brain. This keeps going in a circle until there is enough estrogen to make at least one egg mature for ovulation. Once the estrogen gets high enough, it triggers Luteinizing Hormone – LH – to be released. This is what matures the egg and makes it ovulate.
How Do I Know That I Have Enough Eggs and they are Good?
There are many ways to figure out if you are making enough eggs or not. The first thing you need to do is chart your cycle. If you are finding that your cycles are varying in length in drastic ways, then you could not be ovulating leach cycle. This anovulation could be due to not having enough follicles in the beginning of your cycle.
Another way to know if you are going to have an issue after 35 is to use an ovulation predictor method to determine if you are ovulating or not. There are several to choose from. You can do urine LH tests to see if you are ovulating each month or use a monitor such as Ovatel. The Ovatel monitor will tell you up to five days prior that you are fertile and should release an egg. The urine LH tests will tell you that you should release an egg within 12-48 hours.
If you want to know more about your ovarian reserve and egg quality, you can even do a cycle day 3 FSH test at home. A FSH test tells you if your FSH is too high. The higher it is in the beginning of your cycle, the lower your egg count or egg quality as your body has to mass produce FSH to make any follicles. You want this test to say a big fat no way.
How Can I Get Pregnant if Egg Count is Low?
If you find out that you might have a low ovarian reserve or poor egg quality, it does not mean that you will never have children. There are many ways to get the family that you want. There are hormone tests you will need to do prior to moving onto other treatments. Once these have been done then you can look at other options for conception. There are many medications that can help you make more eggs than normal, so that you have a higher chance of getting pregnant than without the medication.
You will have to have your husband submit to a semen analysis first to be sure that the options that are given to you are not only good for you, but your husband’s needs as well. Low sperm count can be an issue, so you want to be sure that you have him tested prior to starting ovulation medication.