We are born with all the eggs we are ever going to have (around 1-2 million), in fact we have already lost thousands whilst we were foetus’s ourselves! By the time we hit puberty we have lost another 75%! Only about 25%, 300,000-500,000 of our total lifetime egg pool remains. That’s quite a thought, then with each menstrual cycle we lose more eggs, the vast majority are never released at ovulation. By 30 a woman has around 100,000 – 150,000, by 35 a woman will have around 80,000, and into the late 30’s the numbers are likely to be around 25,000-10,000. We cannot increase the number of eggs we have, we can improve the quality.
Folliculogenesis is the process by which primordial follicles develop into mature follicles known as Graafian Follicles. These pre-ovulatory follicles protrude from the surface of the ovary and can be up to 2.5mm in diameter at ovulation.
The immature egg or oocyte nestles in the follicle and develops into an ovum (egg). Whilst the outer layer of granulosa cells respond to increasing levels of the hormone FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) to produce oestrogen and the and theca cells that surround the oocyte respond to LH (lutenising hormone) and produce androgens and progesterone.
At ovulation the ovum (now mature) is released and the remains of the graafian follicle forms the corpus luteum, which continues to secrete oestrogen and progesterone in the luteal phase/second half of the menstrual cycle.
It is the development of these follicles which provide the environment and nourishment for the growing oocyte that we hope to influence and improve with acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle changes. Folliculogenesis takes 3-4 months – that’s why we acupuncturists need this long to help you influence a change.