Every woman is born with a finite number of viable eggs that can be fertilized. At puberty, most women have 2,50,000-5,00,000 viable eggs available. With age, the number of eggs available decreases. By the time a woman reaches her thirties, the number of viable eggs available can reduce to 27,000. The quality of these eggs also reduces considerably. This is known as a low ovarian reserve or diminished ovarian reserve. In many cases, though the number of viable eggs may reduce, the ovaries may still function normally. A low ovarian reserve can make it difficult for the woman to become a mother.
A low ovarian reserve is caused mainly by advancing age. However, the speed at which the quantity and quality of eggs deteriorate can be influenced by certain factors. These factors include:
In some cases, no clear trigger may be identifiable. There is no way to stop the deterioration of eggs but this does not necessarily mean that the woman will not be able to have a family. Women with low ovarian reserves who want to conceive can be aided through assisted reproductive technology. This includes:
Modern medical technology has found ways for a woman to preserve her eggs. This involves harvesting the eggs from her ovaries and freezing them until they are needed. The best time for a woman to do this is while she is young and has a richer ovarian reserve.
Sometimes by the time low ovarian reserve is diagnosed, it may already be too late for the woman to freeze her eggs. In such cases, the doctor may advise ovarian superovulation. This can be described as an aggressive form of inducing ovulation. The treatment involves injecting the woman with hormones to induce the ovulation of multiple eggs at a time. These eggs are then harvested and can be preserved for later use or used for an IVF cycle.
Pregnancy with donor eggs
Using a donor egg is the last course of treatment for women with low ovarian reserves. In such cases, the donor egg will be fertilized by the woman’s partner’s sperm cells. The fertilized embryo will then be implanted in the patient’s uterus. The baby born will not have the patient’s genes but she will get the opportunity to carry her pregnancy to full term and give birth.
Therefore, it is best to visit an IVF specialist as soon as possible to avoid complication caused due to age.