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Your biological clock is very much ticking, whether you feel it or not. You could actually see the menopause as a 20 year long process that starts from your mid twenties to thirties.

Your fertility declines gradually over the course of decades. Some women who are peri-menopausal still manage to get pregnant, but it is definitely better to plan parenthood a little earlier than that. Can you predict until which age you will be fertile? When will you enter the menopause? 

When will you go through the menopause?

Do you still have time to have (another) child? Your answer will, at least in part, depend on your age. Women in their thirties and forties may think they still have time, or may just hope they have more time. Nobody knows exactly how long they will remain fertile, and when their menopause will kick in. Women mary have access to much more information about the "life" of their fertility than they think, however. A new Danish study published in the journal Human Reproduction gives some very interesting insights.

The age at which your mother goes through her menopause may have an awful lot to do with your own fertility's "sell by date", the study of 527 women between 20 and 40 years old suggests. How did the researchers figure that one out, you may ask. The team measured the participants' ovarian reserves by looking at two different markers the women's levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and their antral follicle count (AFC). Until stem cells change this, women are still born with all the eggs they will ever have. The follicles actually develop while a female is still in her mother's uterus! The AMH and AFC results gave the researchers a good approximation of how many eggs still remained.

The study's participants were female healthcare workers who had information about the age at which their mom went through the menopause. Those women whose moms had an early menopause (before age 45) had ovarian reserves that declined much faster than those whose moms had a late menopause (after 55).

If you want to know how long you will remain fertile, asking your mom when she started the menopause may just be the best starting point. Women who don't have this information may have another option, though researchers from the Universities of St. Andrews Edinburgh and Glasgow in the UK have determined what the normal range of AMH is. A test could soon be developed to enable younger women to find out when to expect the menopause very soon!

Younger women are still more fertile

My mom entered her menopause when she was in her late fifties. Does that mean I can count on having a baby in my late forties, if I want to? The lead researcher of the Danish study, Dr Janne Bentzen, pointed out: "Our findings support the idea that the ovarian reserve is influenced by hereditary factors. However, long-term follow-up studies are required." That means the team is not entirely sure that you will have your menopause at the same age as your mom did.

Since we all know women are most fertile earlier in life, that means you should consider starting your family (or adding to it) as soon as possible. Most women take their career very seriously, and want to wait until they have reached a certain level of seniority before having children. That's perfectly reasonable, but life consists of a huge series of risks.

Don't assume that you will be able to get pregnant when you want to, and take family planning very seriously too. Women who are currently in their childbearing age and are hoping to have a child or a few children should know one thing you will never be as fertile as you are at the moment. Healthy living, regular intercourse and knowing when you ovulate certainly increase your chances of getting pregnant quickly. Perhaps your situation is not "ideal" for a baby right now? It never is. Once you think you are truly ready, your ovaries may be telling you something else. In other words, perhaps there is no time right now?

Ladies who have already been through the menopause,

I've got a question for you. Do you know at which age your own mother entered the menopause? If so, did it correspond to the age at which you started yours? To share your story with us, simply leave a comment below! You may also like to read about trying to conceive when you are perimenopausal.

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