Blame it on student debt, career goals, wanderlust, or simply not having found the right partner with whom to have a family, but millennials-those individuals born between 1981 and 1996-are not as eager to have children in their 20’s as the generations that predate them. While pressing the pause button on procreation seems like the responsible thing to do, especially if you’re not 100% on board with the idea of having children, waiting too long can cause certain biological complications.
Delaying Your Decision May Have Consequences
Up until the early 2000s the median age for women to become pregnant was 25. In 2006 the trend started to push more toward 30, and now the majority of millennial women report their preferred age to have children is closer to 35. Many are unconcerned about age and its effect on their fertility and cite advances in reproductive science as their salvation. About 70% of millennial women, in a recent survey, were confident their fertility wouldn’t be an issue as medical intervention would help them.
While the latest and significant advances go a long way toward giving infertile couples more hope than ever before, nature still plays a key role. As most women know, you’re born with all the eggs you will ever have. Though the supply is huge, around 2 million at birth, you may be losing roughly 10,000 each month prior to puberty.
Young women in their teen years have an approximate store of three-to-four hundred thousand eggs, and lose about a thousand eggs each month. By the time a woman reaches her 30’s she has roughly less than 30,000 eggs in reserve. There is no way to intervene and prevent the loss of a woman’s eggs. This natural occurrence is how women are biologically hard-wired.
Added to the diminished supply of eggs, the quality of your eggs begins to dwindle as you hit your mid-30’s. And for those women who smoke, have had certain medical treatments, injury to the pelvic region, or are genetically predisposed, diminished ovarian reserve can begin even earlier.
The Toll of Diminished Ovarian Reserve
Delaying pregnancy until you’re in your 30’s, or even early 40’s, doesn’t automatically mean you won’t have success. Everyone’s biological clock works differently. However, you are more prone to diminished ovarian reserve as you age.
Women with low reserve of eggs should not think that IVF will guarantee a baby, although in most instances and sometimes with more than one treatment attempt a healthy pregnancy can be accomplished.
Science and Solutions
Unfortunately, most women are not aware of their low reserve of eggs until they attempt pregnancy. When pregnancy doesn’t happen after a year of attempts, the woman typically consults her physician and testing begins. Testing for low egg reserve typically involves hormone evaluation, vaginal ultrasound, and other diagnostic procedures.
The threat of a diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve shouldn’t ever be a reason to immediately jump into pregnancy. However, if you know you will want children someday, there are steps you can take to help ensure you’ll have the egg supply. Reproductive technology is making it possible for you to become pregnant, using your own eggs, well beyond your 20’s.
When you receive a diagnosis of low egg reserve, it may be beneficial to take immediate steps to preserve those eggs that are viable through egg freezing. Of course, the younger you are when you opt to preserve your eggs, the better the quality and larger the quantity of eggs.
Egg freezing is the process of preserving mature eggs cryogenically. Your ovaries are hormonally stimulated in order to mature these eggs. Your eggs are then harvested, while you are under low risk anesthesia. You can choose to have your eggs tested to ensure only the eggs that show no chromosomal abnormalities are preserved. The eggs will be frozen and can remain that way safely, for anywhere from a few days, to years. When you decide to pursue pregnancy, you can expect a fairly high success rate using your frozen eggs.