MORE women are delaying motherhood until they are older, so it is helpful to know what your real fertility age is. The average age of those giving birth was 29½ last year – up a year on a decade ago. Almost a quarter of the 2,500 women taking part in Red magazine's national fertility report had problems conceiving. British mums have their first-born later than any other nationality and the number giving birth after 40 has trebled.
Sun Woman asked five women between 25 and 32 to take tests to give a UK snapshot of fertility. The Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Test gives an estimate of the woman's remaining egg supply, or "ovarian reserve". The shocking results revealed four out of the five women had a LOW egg reserve result.
Here fertility expert Zita West, who runs her own clinic in London, explains why there is no reason to panic and explains how they can improve fertility.
1. Sarah House, 27
Single Sarah, a health and beauty consultant from Broadstairs, Kent, was given an egg reserve count of 18.96, which is considered LOW. Zita says: "For her age, this AMH level is on the low side. "Sarah's BMI indicates that she is slightly overweight. But she exercises, which is a good thing. "Being overweight may interfere with your menstrual cycle, create hormonal imbalance and prevent ovulation. "She admitted she is a smoker and this can damage her eggs so I have advised her to give up." Sarah says: "The results were not what I expected and I was a bit worried. I thought I would be fine because I'm a young person and as far as I know, I have no health problems. "I'm going to focus on my weight and smoking but I'm not going to rush into having a family just because of the test results. "I am not ready to have babies yet. "I want to give up smoking and I'm considering hypnotherapy. "I've been going to the gym a lot and I've joined the weight-loss group Slimming World. "I might try the test again in three years and see what the results are like then. "If I had the finance,I might consider freezing my eggs at that point."
2. Lucy Jones, 32
Single Lucy's egg reserve count was 9.56, which is LOW. She is an accountant and lives in Chalk Farm, North London. Zita says: "Lucy seems to think she may have polycystic ovary syndrome but the AMH result does not reflect this. She should see her GP to discuss her worries, though. "She goes to the gym and it is important that she keeps this up and stays fit and healthy. "I would advise her to think about having a baby sooner rather than later." Lucy says: "I was surprised by how low my results were and it took me a while to process the implications. "I eat very healthily, don't smoke and have regular periods. I will go to the GP like Zita suggests. I've been told to have a baby sooner rather than later. "But I split with my boyfriend of nine years last year and I don't want to rush into a new relationship just to have a baby. "All I can do is take my test results into consideration when I next meet someone. "If I get to the age of 35 or 36 and I'm still single I will have to reassess and make a decision about what I want to do. "There are always options such as egg freezing and adoption. "I will keep myself healthy and in good physical condition as this helps fertility. "I chatted with my mum and at my age she got pregnant so I think this is positive. "I will not worry about the test results.
3. Abby Campbell, 26
Single Abby was given an egg reserve count of 14.70, which is LOW. She is a shop manager from Lincoln. Zita says: "Her egg count is a little low for her age. "Now she is aware that her AMH is slightly lower than average so she may want to think about having children a little earlier. "She doesn't smoke and she exercises regularly. "She should carry on with this healthy lifestyle because it helps to boost her fertility. Abby also needs to discuss with her mother at what age she went through the menopause because women usually follow their mums in this pattern and it would be helpful for Abby to know what to expect. "She also has a low vitamin D count – hers comes in at 37 when it should be more than 50. "She needs to look to try and boost this figure with supplements if possible, because this will help to increase her fertility." Abby says: "I was surprised by the test results I received but I think it is always better to know these things for the future. "I'm not going to rush out and have a baby, though. "I will take Zita's advice and get vitamin D supplements. "I will also be certain to quiz my mother about when she started the menopause and whether she had any underlying fertility problems. "But my test results are not going to change how I am living or what I am doing now."
4. Hannah Shrimpton, 25
Hannah was given an AMH reading of 31.74, which is SATISFACTORY. She owns a cake-making business and lives with her boyfriend of three years in Peckham, South London. Zita says: "I'm happy with Hannah's results and potential future fertility. She is not overweight, seems to lead a very healthy lifestyle and is young. "Hannah said she has been diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition which affects approximately five to ten per cent of women. Tissue from the womb lining grows in other parts of the reproductive tract and some women may have fertility problems." Hannah says: "Suffering from endometriosis, my fertility has always been at the back of my mind and last year I was warned it might be very bad. "I am not thinking of starting a family yet as my career is only just starting, but I will keep healthy. "I had an operation to laser certain cells a few months ago and my symptoms are a lot better. Although I'm not thinking of kids yet, I'm pleased my test was satisfactory."
5. Kellie Blackmore, 31
Bank worker Kellie was given an egg reserve of 17.48, which is LOW. She lives with her boyfriend, truck driver Chris Pope, in Tamworth, Staffs. Zita says: "At Kellie's age you would expect her fertility to be 17, and hers is 17.48, but this is still considered low. "Kellie has a low vitamin D count – it is 37 and she needs to increase it to 50 or above. "Her alcohol intake for the week is 20 units. When trying for a baby, cutting down on alcohol is always good. "Kellie is slightly overweight and needs to lose weight to improve her fertility level. She and her partner spend a lot of time in steam rooms. This needs to be cut down because heat damages a man's sperm." Kellie says: "I didn't know the dangers to fertility in steam rooms. We'll stop that, along with drinking in the week. I'll take vitamin supplements too." "My low vitamin D levels did come as a surprise and I am now taking a supplement. "Because I hope to have children in the future I am stopping drinking in the week. "Me and my boyfriend are also making healthy meals and I will keep going to the gym, to get to a healthier weight."
Article: 2nd November 2011 www.thesun.co.uk
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