Infertility: Aging Egg Supply
From birth, females have a fixed—though plentiful—supply of eggs (ovarian reserve). As a woman ages past her mid-30s, her eggs gradually degrade, making it less likely that she will naturally conceive, or that an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure will result in pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Among American women in their 20s to mid-30s, over 35 out of 100 give birth for each ART cycle using their own eggs. As women age, the live ART birth rate gradually drops:1
While there is no definitive test of ovarian reserve, a woman's follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level can be measured to evaluate how well her ovaries are working. A high FSH level is a sign that the body is trying to stimulate the ovaries to make more egg follicles, but the ovaries are not responding and conception is unlikely.
A woman's FSH level can be tested using a blood sample:
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