Professor Joyce Harper visits Clinica Tambre to discuss egg donation and how age can affect fertility decline

Getting older has its advantages. Your experiences, your memories, everything you have felt and experienced makes you a wiser woman and therefore, more prepared to enjoy life and to face any unforeseen event

Age also implies having a more defined and coherent criteria in our relationships, family, friends and love. However, one of the biggest enemies of getting older is fertility. Our reproductive potential decreases as we get older. Whether we are men or women. It is true that the consequences of this for women are much greater than for men.

Joyce Harper, a professor at the Women’s Health Institute at the University College London, recently visited Clinica Tambre, in Madrid for a conference on the effects of age on declining fertility.

Here is what she had to say

“It’s a fact, the amount of a woman’s eggs declines with age. When we are a fetus, we have millions of eggs and at birth many of these eggs die. We are born with one or two million eggs. When we reach puberty, the decline begins and we are left with 300,000 to 500,000. Every time we ovulate, we lose an egg or, occasionally, two. At each ovulation, thousands die. And when we reach menopause, the average age is 51, there are no eggs left.

But what is really worrying is that the number of eggs suffers a significant decline after the age of 30. 

“This is really important at the age of 37. At that age, the number of ovules declines dramatically. In addition to the quantity, the quality of those ovules is also affected. The quality affects our chances of having a healthy baby.”

The decline of fertility in the UK, the challenges and solutions according to Clinica Tambre

There are many reasons that lead women to have children at a later stage of their lives. In the UK, the average age for a woman to have her first baby is 28.8. At this age, sterility is six times higher than at 20. And the decline continues to evolve in a way that at the age of 40 it doubles again. To understand it better, we will explain it in a different way: every month you try to conceive, a healthy and fertile 30-year-old woman has a 20 per cent chance of getting pregnant.

That means that for every 100 fertile 30-year-old women trying to get pregnant in one cycle, 20 will be successful and the remaining 80 will have to try again. At the age of 40, the probability of conceiving is less than five per cent per cycle; therefore, it is expected that less than 5 out of 100 women will succeed each month.

To prevent the problem of not being able to have children due to the decline of fertility, science has made it possible for us to freeze reproductive cells

Both eggs and sperm can remain unchanged in time until we decide to use them. The mature oocytes that are extracted from the ovary are deposited in sucrose baths by a process in which water is absorbed from the cell. Immediately this sucrose is replaced by a specially formulated cryoprotectant. In a matter of seconds, each egg will be frozen at a temperature of -196 degrees, perfectly stabilised, and with all its components intact. When we need that egg, we will defrost it following the inverse process.

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