“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her”. – George Washington.
Like tobacco smoking, motherhood is a choice. Couples who desire to be biological parents, celebrates with joy when pregnancy occurs, and jubilates with thanks giving to the creator of the universe, Jehovah, when the cry of a new born is heard. On the other hand, a beautiful relationship and the love that bonds partners are enslaved with tension and higgledy-piggledy when infertility becomes an issue.
The fertility of a man is as important as that of a woman. Low sperm count and absence of sperms with its scary scientific nomenclatures- oligospermia and azoospermia, has currently taken the centre stage of most fertility discuss. A man with none of the above stated sperm deficiencies could father a child even after 70 years. Why have we relegated the fertility of women to the silent world? Do women have ‘expiring date’ with regards to childbirth? Yes, they do, and age is an important driver in the fertility of a woman.
The fecundity of a women decreases gradually but significantly at age 32 and decreases at a fast pace after age 37 (ASRM, 2014). The number of oocytes in the ovaries decline naturally and progressively at birth to 300,000-500,000 at puberty; 25,000 at age 37. This process of decrease in the ovaries continues until menopause, when only a few hundreds of oocytes remains. During the productive years, 300 to 400 oocytes will be ovulated (Liu et al.,).
Global trends have shown women delaying child-bearing into their 30s and beyond for some known reasons and others known to the women themselves. The reasons notwithstanding, the bear truth is, time is of the essence when it comes to female fertility, and for that matter, child-bearing.
Child-bearing usually ends 10 years before menopause, and this time period is consistent regardless of the age of the menopause. Now, ask yourself, how many years have you to hit menopause? Population studies have shown that, the decline in birth rates begins when women reach the age of 35. On average, women will deliver their last child at age 41.
To avoid being too scientific and medical, it is only prudent to halt with some recommendations. A procurement logistician I am, a medical scientist or doctor I am not. Every woman desiring to be a mother should do the following;
• Deduct the age you started menstruating from your current.
• Multiply the results by 12 (months in a year)
• What you get is the ‘wasted ‘ovulated oocytes (ovaries).
• If the average ovulated oocytes of a woman in a life time is 350.
• Ask yourself, how many are you left with, and how close are you to the average menopause age of 48.
Example. Araba is 39 years old and yet to be a mother. She started her first menstruation at age 15. When you deduct 15 from 39, the result is 25. Multiply 25 x 12(No. of months in a yr) = 300 'wasted' ovulated ovaries. Taking into consideration the average 350 ovulated ovaries in a woman's life time, you can compute the status of Araba with regards to fertility.
Women in their 20s should be counselled about the age-related risk of infertility when other reproductive health issues, such as sexual health or contraception, are addressed as part of their primary well-woman care. Reproductive-age women should be aware that natural fertility and assisted reproductive technology success (except with egg donation) is significantly lower for women their late 30s and 40s.
Atoapem Frimpong Barimah (Procurement logistician)
Reference: Words, sentences of other authors were reviewed and borrowed. This I acknowledge.