There are two seemingly simple components to making a baby: an egg and sperm. However, there are so many complex variables that affect the sperm and the egg. One of the main, unavoidable factors is age.
Each woman is born with a given number of eggs. Approximately TWO MILLION eggs are stored in each woman’s ovaries when she is born. From the time she begins to menstruate, these eggs are being pushed out of the ovaries, to be either fertilized or to be destroyed by the body.
Each month, one egg is released for fertilization (sometimes more are released and multiple births are possible that month.) The eggs are generally released from alternating right side and left side ovaries, taking turns, every other month. For every egg that is released, that month, the body destroys about another 1000 eggs. So a woman has a finite number of cycles she will go through in her lifetime. There is no way to extend this time of fertility. Generally, by the age of about 44 or 45, even if a woman is still getting a normal period each month, the quality of the eggs has deteriorated to the point that a successful, healthy pregnancy with her own eggs is not likely. (Other environmental toxins like smoking and chemotherapy for cancer can also destroy eggs reserves.)
Every time a man ejaculates, 200 million sperm leave his body. 200 million! But that doesn’t mean they are all in good shape, literally. Age affects the quality of sperm just as it affects the quality of eggs. However, unlike eggs, which do not seem to respond to diet, the quality of sperm can be directly affected by what a man eats. DHA, a fatty acid found in fish, is crucial for proper sperm formation. Researchers found that DHA transformed round-headed sperm (not good for penetrating eggs) into conical headed sperm, which were able to spear through the egg.
And, in 2012, research was published in Fertility and Sterility
, stating that men over the age of 44 who consumed diets rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamin E, and folate all had 20% less DNA damage in their sperm.
So, if you are a couple approaching your forties, and you want to increase your chances for a healthy baby, make sure the male side of your equation is consuming a vitamin rich diet!
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