Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Egg Supply and Demand

Credit: Maridav/Adobe

Credit: Maridav/Adobe

By Karla Hutt & Jock Findlay

Understanding the relationship between the number of healthy eggs stored in the ovaries and the length of the fertile lifespan will lead to more accurate predictions about how long each woman will remain fertile.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Globally, more women over the age of 30 are giving birth than in any previous generation. In fact, one in seven Australian women have their first child at 35 years of age or older. Considering our grandmothers usually had their first birth in their early twenties, this is a dramatic change.

The striking increase in maternal age during the preceding four decades can be attributed to a range of medical, social and societal changes, including widespread access to the oral contraceptive pill and improved career opportunities for women. Pregnancy may also be delayed due to circumstances beyond a woman’s control, including illness or lack of a suitable partner.

Regardless of the reasons for postponing pregnancy, the increasing age of first time motherhood presents significant problems because fertility declines steeply after the age of 35 years. However, it does not do so at the same rate for every woman, and the age when fertility may become compromised varies considerably within the population. This conundrum leads many women to ask probing questions about their own fertility. These questions vary in their specifics, but in a general sense can be boiled down to the desire to know how much time a woman has left to start a family.

To help address this question, our research is focusing on the factors that determine how many eggs are stored in the ovaries...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.