How Many Eggs Does a Woman Have?

Female Egg Count and Function: What You Need to Know

When the ticking of your biological clock seems to grow louder with each passing year, you might begin to wonder how many eggs you have left. But the question of how many eggs a woman has does not come with a simple answer―it varies for every woman. To estimate how many eggs a woman may have at any given age, it helps to first have an idea of how many she is born with and consider the average rate at which that egg supply is depleted.

Egg Production and Storage

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How Long After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant?

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Egg production in a female begins before she is even born. As a female fetus develops in her mother’s womb, her eggs (also called oocytes) are produced by the ovaries and stored in follicles within the ovary. Each woman is born with between 500,000 and 2 million eggs in her ovaries, but the number declines steadily from that point forward. For the average woman, only 300,000 eggs will remain by the time she reaches puberty.

Monthly Egg Loss

Though eggs are in large supply early in a female’s life, they are immature, and most will not reach full maturity because of a process called follicular atresia. Follicular atresia is a natural process wherein roughly 1,000 eggs are absorbed back into the body on a monthly basis. This process ensures that only the healthiest follicles with the best potential for successful fertilization are prepared for growth and maturation. From puberty to the onset of menopause, only about 300 to 500 eggs will reach full maturity. By the time a woman reaches menopause around the age of 51, no viable eggs remain in the ovaries.

Ovulation

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When Does Ovulation Occur?

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Ovulation is the time of the month when a potentially mature egg gets its chance to shine. After puberty and with each menstrual cycle, anywhere from a few hundred to as many as 1,000 eggs will start to develop and mature, but it is often only one egg that will prove dominant and reach full maturation. The remaining eggs dry up and are reabsorbed into the body, but the dominant egg is released into the Fallopian tube during ovulation, where it awaits sperm for fertilization.

Using Ovulation to Time Intercourse

If you are trying to get pregnant, knowing when to expect ovulation can help you time intercourse effectively so that you optimize your chances for successful fertilization. You are most fertile in the three days leading up to and including ovulation. Since every woman is different, you first need to figure out your average menstrual cycle. Do this by counting from the first day of your last period to the day before your next period begins.

Ovulation typically occurs about two weeks before your next period. To figure out when you are most likely to ovulate, subtract 14 from your average cycle length. If your cycles are usually 28 days long, then you are likely to ovulate around day 14. If you have longer cycles, around 35 days, means you are more likely to ovulate around day 21. Be sure to watch for a change in your cervical fluid, too. You’ll know you are close to ovulating when your cervical mucus becomes clear and slippery like egg whites, so take advantage of this natural lubricant and make sure sperm are waiting for the mature egg when it is released.

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