How many eggs does a woman have?
There are two main ways to answer this question. The first is to ask how many eggs a woman has right now, on the day you read this. The second is to ask how many eggs she started with when she was born.
If we’re talking about right now, then the answer depends on what’s happening in your life and body at that moment. If you’re ovulating (releasing an egg), you’ll have one less egg than you did 1–2 weeks ago! That’s because when an egg is released from your ovaries, it travels through your fallopian tubes and into the uterus, where it can be fertilized by sperm and result in pregnancy. You lose about 300–400 follicles each month during ovulation—but don’t worry, you won’t feel them go!
Speaking of follicles…those are the tiny sacs that hold your eggs until they’re ready to be released from your ovarian reserve (which is just another name for all the eggs inside of you). Your ovarian reserve isn’t just one giant clump of follicles; instead, it’s made up of lots of tiny pockets scattered throughout both ovaries. And before we get too far down the rabbit hole: no, an ovary isn’t a single space like an orange that holds all those little sacs—it’s more like a 3-dimensional honeycomb made up of lots of smaller pockets within pockets within pockets. All those spaces house more than one egg at a time (usually around 10) so there are really millions upon millions (upon millions!) of potential places for an egg to grow and mature into something that could become a baby someday!
The number of eggs your body holds is dependent on age.
You might be surprised to know that your body is born with about a million eggs. That’s right, more than a million! They are hidden inside small follicles in one of your ovaries and as you age, the number will decrease. Why? Your body only releases a limited amount of eggs over time.
“Just before birth, there are around 6 to 7 million eggs; by the time of puberty, you’ll have roughly 300,000 to 400,000,” says Dr. Janelle Luk, OB-GYN at Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness in New York City. “As you age and go through menstrual cycles, the number slowly decreases.”
This is why women have the most success getting pregnant when they’re younger—their egg supply is higher. “A woman’s fertility starts to significantly decrease at 35 years old and continues dropping from there,” explains Dr. Luk. This isn’t exactly true for every woman though as egg count can vary based on genetics and past health conditions like chemotherapy or radiation that can affect fertility. So if you’re wondering how many eggs does a woman have left by age 45 or 50—that answer won’t be the same for each person.
How many eggs does a woman lose each month?
On average, a woman releases one egg each month (known as ovulation), though sometimes there are more than one. If all the eggs you have were ever released at once, it would be about two million! Of course, some of those eggs will likely never be used for a variety of reasons.
What does the ovulation process look like?
What does the ovulation process look like?
Every time your body ovulates, a mature egg is released from one of your ovaries. This egg travels down one of your fallopian tubes to await fertilization. If it isn’t fertilized by a sperm cell during that cycle, it breaks down and is expelled with your uterine lining during menstruation.
There are many factors that contribute to fertility, but knowing the basics might help you understand your own body better.
You can’t control all the factors that contribute to fertility, but getting a grasp on the basics might help you understand your body better and feel more in charge of your own health.
The number of eggs you have as a young adult has an impact on your future fertility: roughly, the more eggs you have in your ovaries today, the higher your chances will be to get pregnant naturally when you’re older.
While one egg per month is released from a healthy ovary between puberty and menopause, each month many other eggs stop developing and die off, so that by adulthood there are far fewer left. This is why it’s common for women over 35 to experience infertility issues. If you want to be able to get pregnant later—either now or in the future—it helps to know how many eggs are left and how they’re looking. That’s where fertility testing comes in (more on that below).
Getting an idea of how many eggs are left can tell us whether we are at increased risk of infertility later in life. For example, if you’ve had chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment before reaching puberty, those treatments can kill off some or all of your ovarian reserve—so while it’s not impossible for such women to get pregnant naturally, they definitely face greater obstacles than their peers who didn’t undergo such treatments. Fertility tests may also be used by women nearing menopause as a way of determining when their days at peak fertility will come to an end; this could help them make decisions about whether they want children now or adopt after menopause has set in.