Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Time-limited opportunity! Don’t delay!

February 2nd, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

Cartoon: I can't believe I forgot to have childrenThere’s been quite a bit of internet buzz during the last week or so about a study conducted at University of St Andrews and Edinburgh University by Tom Kelsey, in which he and his colleagues develop a computer model of how a woman’s supply of eggs declines over time. The scaremongering accompanying news reports of this study is reminiscent of the 1980s kerfuffle about how women over 40 were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to be married. Some headlines are proclaiming “Women lose 90% of eggs by age 30” and advising women who want to be parents to act quickly. Some are even recommending fertility screening analogous to cancer screening.

Before you ladies under 30 rush off to get impregnated, let me point out a few things. First, this study is a computer model. It is not definitive evidence that women cannot conceive after 30. Second, there has been ongoing new research in the last several years that suggests mammals may be able to produce new ova, contrary to conventional doctrine that females have a fixed reserve of egg cells enclosed in the ovaries at birth. Although there are many skeptics, there is still a great deal that is unknown about how the ovaries work.

Third, it only takes one egg cell to make a baby.

3 responses to “Time-limited opportunity! Don’t delay!”

  1. Lisa Logan says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am enrolled in a graduate course on digital culture right now. This story is so relevant, especially when I’ve been reading McLuhan!

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Lisa, please tell us more about how you’re using this example in your digital culture class and how you’re linking it to McLuhan!

  3. Lisa Logan says:

    I was first considering McLuhan’s idea of technology as an extension of the self. This reduction of bodily systems to a computer model is a good example of how the medium of computers may have influenced our ideas of what is allowed to stand in as a body. This reflection came from the quote, “the personal and social consequences of any medium–that is, of any extension of ourselves–result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology” from /Understanding Media/ page 19. He is discussing “ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and to ourselves.” I think that how we relate to ourselves has changed enough that some people will see this study as valid without even questioning
    the computer model. This reminds me of “sciency” advertisements too. I wonder if they may also be more believable to many people because they are taking advantage
    of the same thing that the computer model does.

    Because our seminars are quite short and full of students, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to discuss this idea during class. Reading a book a week plus several articles also in every class) means that I don’t have much time to reflect and absorb
    much about each reading.

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