This will be the first post in a series on fertility, a series that is very much needed. So many of us have struggled with issues in fertility, and similar to miscarriage, it is something that no one addresses. Trying to have children when it doesn't just "happen" is so emotional, so isolating, and so misunderstood. I am hoping that by providing some basic information, clearing up some myths, and shedding some light on the process, you lovely readers will feel more empowered, informed, and confident.
First lets start with eggs. Women are born with all the egg cells (or oocytes) they will ever have - they do not produce any after (unlike men, who produce sperm throughout their life). While women are born with 1 million egg cells, less than 500 of these will become actual full-fledged eggs over their lifetime. Even of the eggs that do survive, about half of all eggs have genetic problems, and the number only increases as we age. So it's not just a quantity issue, but one of QUALITY too.
While you can get pregnant from the time of your first period (menstrual cycle), you are most fertile in your late teens through late 20s. By the time you are 27, your fertility starts to decline. Yes, you read that right, 27. Around 31, fertility really takes a hit and starts to decrease faster, until the age of 35 where it starts to take a nose dive. About 1 of every 4 women older than 35 have trouble getting pregnant.
The average woman can get pregnant until the age of 41, but that isn't the case for many. You are able to conceive (get pregnant) about 10 years before menopause, but everyone goes through menopause at a different time (some as early as 45).
That's not to say its all about the eggs. Next post will cover what other issues come into play when determining fertility. Stay tuned.