Catching up with your ticking biological clock!

Are you 35 years of age or older? Is there a change in your period cycle? Do you have anyone in your family who have had fertility issues? Or, have you been trying to conceive but failed? Dr. Agilan Arjunan gives you a glimpse of what is actually happening in your body to help you understand your situation.

The idea of starting a family brings an emotional roller coaster for both men and women– joyfulness, anxiety, delight and sometimes even fear of the unknown. Apart from that, men and women have unique paths to becoming parents. One of the main differences between men and women is what is known as ‘the biological clock’.

The reproductive biological clock is most commonly referred to as a timeline for having children. Anatomically, women are born with as many as one to two million eggs in their ovaries which were produced since she was in her mother’s womb. In a woman’s lifetime, she will release about 300 to 400 eggs through a process called ovulation. During ovulation, the ovary releases an egg at a time and produces necessary hormones to support her womb for pregnancy.

Unfortunately, a woman’s fertility begins to decline gradually in her late 20s, declines more sharply around age 35, and drops sharply at age 40. Other factors influencing a woman’s fertility are all lifestyle related such as smoking, poor dietary intake, alcohol consumption and to certain extend underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis, but age is the most powerful influence.

On the contrary, men’s reproduction begins at puberty and continue to produce sperms throughout their lives. A sperm cell undergoes multiple stages from spermatogonium until becoming a mature sperm that has the ability to fertilise an egg. Although the sperm production happens throughout his life, the production of sperms that has the ability to fertilise an egg declines as he ages. Men too do have their biological clock.

Having one or more of these signs may indicate that your biological clock is ticking faster than you thought. If you want to conceive and start your own family, now would be the best time to consult a fertility specialist while your clock is ticking!

Frequently Asked Questions

You are born with all the eggs that you can produce in your lifetime. Current established fertility treatment will not be able to increase your egg numbers. New advancements in fertility medicine have shown some promise in the field of ovarian regeneration. However, it may still take years before this treatment modalities become accessible.   

Egg quality declines with age. Age-related decline is irreversible. However, lifestyle -related decline in egg quality can be minimised with lifestyle modifications such as healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumptions. 

Age is an important factor for egg decline. There are medical and surgical conditions which can reduce your egg numbers such as endometriosis , autoimmune diseases or ovarian cyst surgery. Age related egg decline can not be reversed (see above) . You can minimise the surgical-related egg decline by doing the surgical procedure only when it is necessary and perhaps doing it laparoscopically with an experienced surgeon.

Not necessarily. Ability to ejaculate does not mean that you are producing good quality sperm cells. Your fertility is determined by sperm count and quality and not by masculinity.

You can still able to father your own biological child if a fertility doctor is able to increase sperm production using medical therapy or obtain enough sperm cells via a surgical procedure. IVF can be done even with few healthy sperm cells. Speak to a fertility doctor about possibility of trying medical therapy.

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