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How many eggs does an ovary produce?
Assisted Reproduction Center

How many eggs does an ovary produce?

The egg production process in the ovaries is important to understand for comprehending female fertility and reproductive health. The number of eggs an ovary produces is influenced by several factors, including age, hormonal balance, and overall ovarian health.

Before Birth

  • Initial Egg Count: A female fetus has around 6 to 7 million oocytes (immature eggs) by the 20th week of gestation. This is the peak number of eggs a woman will ever have.
  • At Birth: By the time of birth, the number of oocytes decreases to about 1 to 2 million due to a natural process of cell death called atresia.

Childhood to Puberty

  • Decline in Egg Count: Throughout childhood, the number of oocytes continues to decline. By puberty, a girl has approximately 300,000 to 400,000 eggs remaining in her ovaries.

Reproductive Years

  • Ovulation Cycle: During the reproductive years, from puberty to menopause, a woman ovulates approximately once a month. However, not all eggs are ovulated. Each menstrual cycle, multiple follicles begin to develop, but usually, only one follicle becomes dominant and releases an egg during ovulation. The remaining follicles undergo atresia.
  • Total Ovulations: Over a woman’s reproductive lifetime, which spans about 35 to 40 years, she will ovulate approximately 300 to 500 eggs.

Menopause, End of Egg Supply

By the time a woman reaches menopause, typically around age 50, the number of remaining eggs drops to a few hundred or even fewer, and the ovaries cease to release eggs.

Factors Affecting Egg Production

  1. Age, natural decline. The quantity and quality of eggs decline with age, particularly after the age of 35. This decline impacts fertility and the chances of natural conception.
  2. Hormonal Balance & Hormonal Influence. Hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) play crucial roles in the development and release of eggs. Imbalances can affect the regularity and success of ovulation.
  3. Overall Health and Lifestyle: factors like stress, nutrition, exercise, and medical conditions can influence ovarian function and egg quality. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support reproductive health.

The number of eggs an ovary produces is a dynamic process that changes throughout a woman’s life. Starting with millions of oocytes before birth, this number significantly decreases by the time of puberty and continues to decline with age. During her reproductive years, a woman will ovulate approximately 300 to 500 eggs. Various factors, including age, hormonal balance, and overall health, influence egg production and quality. Understanding these factors is crucial for women seeking to manage their fertility and reproductive health effectively. Consulting with a gynecologist can provide personalized insights and guidance based on individual health profiles.

Dr. Iñaki González-Foruria
Medical Director
COMB: 40780
Dr. Clàudia Forteza
Gynecologist in Human Assisted Reproduction
COMB: 50849
Dr. Rebeca Beguería
Gynecologist in Human Assisted Reproduction
COMB: 40754
Joan Massó
IVF Lab Director
CBC: 21270C
Dr. Manel Fabó
Anaesthetist Doctor
COMB 23569
Monica Mandas
Nursing
COIB: 057909
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