A recent study confirmed that a woman’s biological clock might just be ticking faster than previously thought. Published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland, the study indicated that 95% of women have less than 12% of their ovarian egg reserve left by age 30 and only three percent remaining by age 40. The study based its information on 325 women of varying ages in the United States, the United Kingdom and in Europe.
Elan Simckes, M.D., medical director and founder of The Fertility Partnership of St. Peter’s, MO says, “I have been telling patients for years that a woman’s ability to conceive peaks in her late teens and stays fairly stable until 30 and nosedives after 35. It sends a strong message to wannabe moms that ‘sooner is better.’”
For many women, however, sooner is lapsing or has lapsed. Compared with generations past, today’s women often continue their education and establish themselves in the workforce before having kids. In fact, many colleges and universities are seeing more female enrollments than male enrollments, including those who enroll in graduate, law and medical programs following college.
Even though women have always played a prominent role in the American workforce, higher education and training have paved the way for women to attain more high-profile, high-salary jobs than in the past. That includes women running our government and women leading corporations, among other careers.
The demands are never-ceasing, too, for these amazing ladies. Their lives demand relentless energy output and extended work hours, resulting in many women choosing to put motherhood temporarily on hold—a choice that’s measurable. Data from the United States Census indicates that childlessness among American women has doubled in the past 20 years, with one out of five women between the ages of 40 and 44 being childless.
Take Deanna Russo, for example. She’s a 39-year-old president of an entertainment marketing firm in Los Angeles who describes herself as a “career-driven and independent woman.” She says, “I always knew I wanted to have a child, but at some point it dawns on you, you really hope you can make it happen within the proper window of time. Creating a healthy life is something I take very seriously.”
Russo wasn’t surprised by the study’s findings, but it motivated her to check into having her eggs frozen for later use. Egg-freezing isn’t always foolproof, though. Unfortunately, human egg freezing hasn’t shown many consistent results and isn’t widely accepted as a viable option for future family planning.
In the past, people understood that women have more difficulty conceiving as they age. This study, however, indicates just how many eggs a woman has in her ovaries and provides evidence that women have a fixed number of eggs that decline with increasing age, says study researcher Tom Kelsey, Ph. D.
For some women, it may be time to listen closer to that biological clock.