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J Pathol. 2007 Jan;211(2):219-31.

Reproductive ageing in women.

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Academic Unit for Women's Health, Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London, UK.


The traditional view in respect to female reproduction is that the number of oocytes at birth is fixed and continuously declines towards the point when no more oocytes are available after menopause. In this review we briefly discuss the embryonic development of female germ cells and ovarian follicles. The ontogeny of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is then discussed, with a focus on pubertal transition and normal ovulatory menstrual cycles during female adult life. Biochemical markers of menopausal transition are briefly examined. We also examine the effects of age on female fertility, the contribution of chromosomal abnormalities of the oocyte to the observed decline in female fertility with age and the possible biological basis for the occurrence of such abnormalities. Finally, we consider the effects of maternal age on obstetric complications and perinatal outcome. New data that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of mammalian oogenesis and follicular formation, and of the female reproductive ageing process, are also briefly considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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