Fertility Status Assessment
Scientists are getting closer to finding out exactly why older women find it so much harder to get pregnant. Recent British research just published in the Current Biology journal reveals that as women get older the levels of a certain protein in the body called cohesin falls dramatically.
This protein is responsible for making sure that the unfertilized egg has the right amount of DNA inside. This protein holds the chromosomes together and if there is not enough cohesin the egg can either hold on to too many chromosomes or have too few. This can result in chromosomal abnormalities leading infertility, miscarriages or serious problems with the baby like Down's syndrome. So testing for this cohesin protein will help doctors assess your reproductive health status.
The next part of the research will be to see if doctors can find a drug that will help prevent the loss of this protein. If they are successful it may give older women a better chance of getting pregnant with a healthy baby.
Research from California, published in Nature Cell Biology, may also shine a light on how egg cells go from having 46 chromosomes to the 23 they need. It appears that they separate from the middle out, using protein polymers called microtubules. Researchers think this process may cause problems as women age so further research is needed.
What Can You Do Now?
While you are waiting for the scientists to find a treatment or drug that will help your eggs stay fertile for longer, you need to know your present fertility status.
Doctors have a pretty good idea how your eggs are holding up and there are various ways of checking to see how much mileage you have left in your eggs. Keep an eye on the situation because by the time you are forty your chances of getting pregnant naturally are only about 5%!
· The FertiSTAT test, developed by some British researchers at Cardiff University and presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's conference in 2009 asks 22 questions to assess your chances of conceiving naturally.
· A DNA test for the Fragile X gene can help assess your egg reserve and the rate it is being used up. Also fertility doctors say that knowing how many follicles you have left in your ovaries is another good indication of how much time you have left to start a family.
· There are various hormone blood tests available to test the state of your fertility including one called Plan Ahead, which gives a good indication of how many eggs you have left, but can't necessarily tell you the quality of them.
When you have a thorough reproductive health assessment it looks at all aspects of your fertility. It checks the production and quality of your eggs, gives you a blood test to see the levels of five key hormones, and gives you an a ultra sound scan to show if you have any internal problems that might affect your chances of pregnancy. Putting all this together, along with your medical history, with a fertility specialist will help give you a good idea of your current fertility status.
So get a fertility assessment as soon as you hit thirty and act sooner rather than later as your fertility continues to drop year by year.