It is known that women produce all of their oocytes (eggs) in utero, with the process being complete at five months gestational age, having produced about 6-7 milion oocytes. Yet, these heady numbers quickly die off at a rate of approximately 1000 per month. Of this 1000 per month, only one egg will survive the 4 ½ month development period.
By age 41, 50% of Caucasian women will be functionally sterile and by 50 years old, 50% will be menopausal.
Fertility drugs target the monthly supply in order to maximize the number of oocytes permitted to continue development. The goal is to stimulate as many oocytes from the ‘resting pool’ so that (in younger women) perhaps 30 of the 1000 recurited oocytes can be rescued by the use of fertility drugs. It is important to remember, however that fertility treatments cannot repair damaged oocytes. And one of the greatest cause of damage to oocytes is the aging process.
Other factors in declining ovarian function
But, there are other factors, besides age, that come into play in determining the women most likely to conceive. Women whose ovaries may have been damaged by cancer treatment, endometriosis and other diseases that can affect ovarian function, may demonstrate a faster rate of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), which can significantly affect fertility. Autoimmune disorders, obesity and other health related issues can also contribute.
However, as science delves further into the process of reproduction, it appears that there are non physiological factors that affect premature ovarian aging as well. One of these factors is Race. In a study (name/date of study), it has been found that Asian women demonstrate a faster rate of Premature Ovarian Aging (POA) than Caucasian or African American women. African American women, while exhibiting a slower POA process than their Asian counterparts, are still more likely to undergo more rapid ovarian aging than Caucasian women.
What’s your gene pool?
“The physiology is still not quite sorted out as to why these differences occur,” says John Rinehart, M.D. Ph.D. and Director of Reproductive Medicine Institute (RMI) with six locations throughout Chicagoland. “Obviously, there is a genetic basis, but we are also seeing a connection to the Fragile X gene as well. This early research may yield some promising information that can one day serve as a better predictor as to an individual’s genetic fertility potential.”
Reproductive Medicine Institute provides patients with the expertise of six board-certified specialists in the area of reproductive endocrinology and immunology including the area of recurrent miscarriage, along with the treatment of endometriosis. Our team is committed to providing academic excellence, cutting-edge technology, and skilled experience in a patient-oriented practice. Together we are able to offer patients the highest possible odds of achieving pregnancy. Our six Chicagoland locations also offer patients the ease of being close to home, wherever home may be.