How Many Eggs Does a Woman Have?

Women are born with all the eggs they are ever going to have, and they don’t make any new eggs during their lifetime. Women are born with approximately two million eggs in their ovaries, but about eleven thousand of them die every month prior to puberty.

Egg Count by Age

As a teenager, a woman has only three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand remaining eggs, and from that point on, approximately one thousand eggs are destined to die each month.

This phenomenon is completely independent of any hormone production, birth control pills, pregnancies, nutritional supplements, or even health or lifestyle. Nothing stops this inexorable death of approximately one thousand eggs every month regardless of ovulation, ovarian inhibition, or stimulation.

Whenever the woman runs out of her supply of eggs, the ovaries cease to make estrogen, and she goes through menopause. Despite a lot of journalistic hype, there is no similar phenomenon in men. Men continue to make sperm and testosterone at virtually the same rates, with only a very modest diminution as they age.

How Many eggs Does a Woman Have at 40?

Many population studies have demonstrated over several decades that the average fertile woman becomes infertile by age forty or earlier, and undergoes menopause by age fifty. The mean age of the end of female fertility (according to all the early population studies of fertile women) precedes menopause by about ten to thirteen years. The end of fertility for an otherwise normal, fertile woman, and the age of the onset of menopause, correlates strictly with the decline in the number of eggs remaining in her ovary.

The average female life expectancy in the Western world is currently about eighty-four, whereas in 1900, the average life expectancy was fifty, and in 1850, it was only forty-two years of age.

Meanwhile, the average age at which young girls start menstruating in the modern world has decreased from age thirteen or fourteen to age ten or eleven. Neither the overall life expectancy, nor the age of menarche (the beginning of menstruation) has any effect on the average age of menopause. In fact, the average age of menopause in almost every population studied over any period of time and in any era has remained constant at around fifty.

Although some women go through menopause in their twenties (because of POF, i.e., premature ovarian failure) and some go into menopause in their late fifties, the timing does not appear to depend upon any specific element in their lives other than the number of eggs with which they were endowed at birth.

It is this wide variation in endowment of eggs from woman to woman that will determine whether you will lose your fertility early (late twenties or early thirties), or whether you’ll be one of the lucky women who is able to have children into her mid- or even late forties.

To recap, the average woman will have three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand eggs at the time of puberty. An average of one thousand will die every month, and only one of those thousand every month is destined to ovulate.

By age thirty-seven, the average woman will be down to only about twenty-five thousand remaining eggs. When only twenty-five thousand eggs remain in the ovaries, menopause will occur in approximately thirteen years.

At What Age Are Women Likely to Become Infertile?

Thus, the average woman begins to become infertile by age thirty-seven or earlier, when her ovarian reserve goes down to about twenty-five thousand eggs, and at age fifty, she will go through menopause. But there are wide variations from this average. What you need to know, in order to plan your entire life, is where you fit on that curve.

(To be continued)

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