The Reproductive System: How Many Eggs Does A Woman Have?
Female Reproductive Eggs: A General Overview
A lot of people are now more aware of what their bodies need and how they will respond to different stimuli. Most individuals can take note of that tight spot on their joint or that slight pain in their lower back. However, the internal workings of the body can still be a big mystery for most individuals. One question that may arise due to the said intricacies of the body includes the question “How many eggs does a woman have?”. But are female kids born with eggs meant for reproduction? The answer is a resounding yes. These babies, once born, already have the egg cells that they need for the rest of their lives as no more new eggs will be developed by the body throughout life.
Menstrual Cycle: Why doesn’t it start at birth?
In the early development of a female fetus, the fetus can have as many as six million egg cells. These oocytes (egg cells) are continuously reduced that once the baby is birthed, she only has around a million to two million of these oocytes. Now people may be wondering why the menstrual cycle starts right there and then when the egg cells are already in place? This is because the menstruation of female individuals will be put on hold until they reach the age of puberty.
This stage in the life of females will start once the brain’s hypothalamus begins production of what is known as GnRH or gonadotropin-releasing hormones. This GnRH will, in turn, lead to the stimulation of the pituitary gland in the production of FSH or Follicle-stimulating Hormones. The same hormones are responsible for the development of eggs and cause the levels of estrogen to become increased.
As such, it is no longer surprising if women experience mood swings during this stage. On the other hand, one of the first signs of puberty would be two years after the development of the bud of the breast. This is that tissue in the breast that is tender which will then develop into the full breast of the female. While a majority of girls will start their menstruation at around 12 years old, some may begin at a much younger age (around 8 years old).
Women’s Fertility Based Age Range
Once a girl hits the stage of puberty, her egg cells or oocytes will number around 300,000 to 400,000. People may wonder what happened to those other eggs but there is a simple answer- before reaching the said stage in life, an estimated 11,000 eggs die every month. Fortunately, the number of oocytes that die each month after puberty is significantly reduced. After having her first menstruation, a woman will lose immature eggs in the amount of 1,000 each month. This means that individuals will normally lose eggs at a rate of 30 to 35 each day.
Experts are still uncertain as to why this occurs but what they do know is that this process will happen without us being able to do anything about it. This process cannot be influenced by factors such as chocolate consumption, health, nutritional supplements, pregnancies, birth control pills, and hormones.
Once the maturation of follicles is complete, they will become responsive to the hormonal proddings leading to the menstrual cycle. However, when conceiving, only one egg cell will emerge as the winner except in the case of fraternal twins which are usually caused by the ovulation of multiple egg cells.
What about women who are in their 30s? Based on the numbers presented above, once a woman is aged 30, she experiences a reduction in her fertility and once she reaches the age of 40, she will be down to around 3% of her original egg cell count or supply.
When a woman is aged 40 and above, there are no fixed figures to ascertain the number of egg cells one may have. Several other factors can come into play such as a lifetime of smoking. Evidence suggests that a fertile female on average becomes infertile (relative) once she reaches 40 years old (along with a reduced 5% chance of conceiving per menstrual cycle) and will shift or transition into a stage known as menopause once she reaches 50 years old. Once the numbers are analyzed, it would seem that the ovaries will only have in them around 25,000 egg cells left (this is by 37 years old) where the woman only has a remaining 13 years of her life before she can reach the menopausal stage. However, this is just on average and an estimate as some people may hit menopause later while some may hit menopause earlier.
Why Does Egg Cell Quality reduce As Women Ages?
While the quantity of the egg cells was discussed comprehensively in the early parts of the article, it is also important to talk about the quality of the egg cells as the aging process begins. Before monthly ovulation occurs, the egg will undergo division. Eggs that are already older can suffer some errors during this process of division which means that there is a greater risk that the chromosomes in them may be abnormal. This is the reason why there is an increased risk of having a child with Down syndrome along with other abnormalities of the development of the brain as the age of being pregnant increases.
People can also liken their reserve or egg cells to a little troop of soldiers. The strongest soldiers will be relegated to the front line but as the aging process goes on, the eggs undergo ovulation or get discarded while lower and older quality egg cells are left behind.
Once the egg cell supply runs out, the ovaries will stop production of the hormone estrogen and people will now have to go through the menopausal stage. As stated earlier, this stage can happen later or earlier in life.