Dr. Melanie McDowall is a researcher with the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide. Her specific research area is assisted reproduction technologies including IVF, IVM, ways of improving egg quality by understanding the basic biology behind egg and embryo development, and improving the ability to select the “healthiest embryos”. With a focus on oocytes (eggs) and early embryo development, her area of study is focused on the period leading up to ovulation as well as the period of time before implantation happens. In today’s podcast, we will be talking about how aging impacts fertility and the important role that reproductive technologies play in this process.
Topics discussed in this episode
- The basic biology behind conception and pregnancy. What happens when the sperm meets the egg and how it grows into a baby
- The role of DNA, chromosomes, and genes in the process of conception
- We discuss how women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and how the number and quality of these eggs begins to decline dramatically from the time a woman reaches her early 30s to the time she reaches her mid-40s
- At what point are women at their peak fertility? And at what age is our egg quality and quantity the highest?
- What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? And how is it different from Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Maturation (IVM)?
- How does a woman’s age impact her egg quality, and how does the age of her oocytes (eggs) impact the chances of a successful IVF cycle that results in a live birth?
- The role that the birth control pill has played in the cultural shift towards an increase in women having children later in life
- The importance of understanding that fertility has a deadline, why it is important for women to be aware of this, and how we can incorporate this unfortunate reality into the plan for our lives
- The hereditary aspect of our fertility and why the best way to predict the deadline on our own fertility may be to find out when our mothers went through menopause
- The extent to which media coverage of celebrities having children at advanced maternal ages can be misleading, and how this can result in the tendency for us to over-estimate how fertile we are as we reach our late 30s, early 40s and beyond
- The important role that a man’s age plays in the health of his sperm, and in what ways advanced paternal age can contribute to an increased risk of genetic mutations among other issues
- We also discuss the process by which advanced maternal age contributes to an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities
Connect with Mel!
- Dr. Melanie McDowall | The University of Adelaide
- Your Fertility | yourfertility.org.au
- How Ageing Affects Women’s Fertility (video) | Dr. Melanie McDowall | yourfertility.org.au
- Mel McDowall | Google Scholar Profile
Music Credit: Intro/Outro music Produced by Sirc of (The Nock)