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The biological clock is a normal mechanism that regulates the cycle or regularity of several physiological processes. In women, the biological clock regulates processes such as reproduction. In women, age is a major factor in deciding fertility. Female fertility rises after puberty, but declines as women enter their 30s. Menopause, a non-reproductive process in women, begins with the cessation of menstruation.
Biomedical advances such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) have been seen as a solution to the biological clock in achieving birth. Reports from France in the early 1980s and recently from the US data demonstrated that the probability of live birth following a cycle of IVF treatment reduces with increasing age.
The ovarian reserve is further studied to improve the chances of pregnancy in women while undergoing IVF technique with their oocytes. The notion solely focused on the aging of eggs by monitoring the quantitative and qualitative variations in the ovary henceforth, breaching the menstruation process and the female reproduction capability. Women identified to have “diminished ovarian reserves” are limited to conceiving using donated eggs from relatively younger women. The biological clock, aging, and gender are the cultural categories that helped the women with “old eggs” rebuild themselves after infertility.
Reaction to the Article
The article features different clusters of women who used donor eggs during the study; the “eleventh-hour moms” (38-41 age group) are women who unsuccessfully tried to conceive with IVF treatment using their egg first and later opted for donor eggs. These women’s “old eggs” had an effect on their fertility to a certain extent than menopause. Education about age-related infertility is essential for awareness.
“Miracle Moms” (42 and above age group) are women who are old and have no hopes of conceiving but miraculously achieved this even in their perimenopause or menopause phase. They viewed this as an extension of fertility and concluded that age is probably not a limiting factor in sustaining a healthy pregnancy.
Findings that the uterus has a capacity to carry a baby to term even past menopause (54 years) is deficient because most children will be born with complications. Conceiving using donor eggs from young women reduces amniocentesis worries and the risk of miscarriages. The “eleventh moms” view donated eggs as a fall-back alternative while the “miracle moms” only have an option of using donor eggs as the solution to getting pregnant. They, therefore, experience stigmatization whereby others receive age-related negative responses from therapists and even exclude them from undergoing treatment.
Women subject themselves to invasive procedures due to different reasons in their quest of children. Biomedicalization is a non-uniform technique since no physician is in a position to explain reasons for a decline in fertility with age thus considered as medical incompetence. Women got surprised at being told their age was the cause of infertility and the idea that they had lost time thinking all was well as per their menses model. Women in age group 38-41 go through disappointments changing from the expectation of a biogenetic baby to one from a donor egg.
Reservations about the article
The study seems to support the notion that women’s fertility is linked to their day-to-day work. The logic that a woman’s professional life interferes with her fertility has not been proven. Evidently, work denies women the opportunity and time to bear children as many women are predisposed towards choosing career fulfilment over raising a family.
Questions and views not addressed in the article
1. How can family planning be done to help curb age-related infertility? Mapping of a woman's follicular dynamics ovarian reserve and coupled biomarkers gives an individual prediction about prospect probability of pregnancy, therefore helping one decide on when they should have children.
2. How can fertility be extended (Slowing down the ticking biological clock)? Any woman willing to get pregnant at a later age can extend their fertility by freeze-preserving their young and healthy eggs until when they are ready for parenting.
3. Does male factor contribute to woman fertility in any way? It’s hard to estimate woman’s fertility due to the quality of sperm produced by a man. Therefore, lack of childbearing should not only be blamed on women but also study husbands to determine whether they are azoospermic.
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