What You Need to Know About Ovulation

If you're considering having a baby, get the facts about ovulation and the quality of your eggs as you age over time.

Photography by ©iStock

Photography by ©iStock

Boy, you look great for your age—but your ovaries, not so much. “How well you look or how well you take care of yourself doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to egg quality. The good ones have been used up, and the quality of remaining ones is diminishing,” says Dr. Anthony Cheung, Chair of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada’s Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee. Increasing age basically leads to more errors in your egg DNA, such as abnormal numbers of chromosomes—for example, one extra chromosome leads to Down’s syndrome.

Approximately 20 per cent of women wait until after age 35 to have a baby. The trouble with that is that fertility starts to dip in your thirties, especially after age 35. “There’s an accelerated rate of declining fertility with age,” explains Cheung. Your chance of getting pregnant at age 30 is 20 per cent each month; at age 40, your chance drops to only about 5 per cent. There’s also a higher risk of miscarriage, says Cheung: the risk is less than 10 per cent if you’re in your 20s or early 30s, but it rises to almost 30 per cent if you’re 40-44, and almost 50 per cent if you’re 45-plus. “The age of your eggs is a major determinant of pregnancy success,” says Cheung.

Ovulation Numbers

You may want to count your eggs before you try to hatch one. Did you know that the number of available eggs from birth to menopause dips dramatically?

  • 1,000,000 — number of eggs at birth
  • 300,000 — number of eggs at puberty
  • 300 — number of eggs from those remaining at puberty that are ovulated over the entire reproductive years

From health factors that can affect fertility to drugs that increase fertility, we have much more information on conception in our Ultimate Fertility Guide.

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