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Fertility Study Measures Speed of Our Biological Clock

by Neil Bennett,  Edinburgh Journal ,  Feb 17, 2010
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New evidence suggests a woman’s egg supply peaks some 20 weeks after conception, while still in the womb, and gradually declines for around 50 years, according to a study published in an online science journal.

The collaborative project between researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews has led to an improved understanding of the way in which the female ovarian reserve—the number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries—declines over time.

The research published in the flagship open-access online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) provides further evidence to support the theory that women are born with a fixed number of eggs, which drops over time.

Dr Tom Kelsey, a senior researcher at the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews said: “Previous models have looked at the decline in ovarian reserve, but not at the dynamics of ovarian reserve from conception onwards.

"Our model shows that for 95 percent of women, by the age of 30 years, only 12 percent of their maximum ovarian reserve is present, and by the age of 40 years only 3 percent remains.”

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