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Women's Health | 2 months ago

Four Fertility Facts You May Find Surprising

Much of what women learn about reproduction focuses on how easy it is to become pregnant. But that’s not always the case and understanding the journey is important.

We’re often surprised to find it’s not always easy to conceive when the time comes. Here are four fertility facts you should know.

Age matters

Many of us spend a good amount of effort trying not to become pregnant until we are truly ready. Women often postpone childbearing until after age 35.

Girls are born with more than a million eggs in their ovaries, and by puberty, only about 300,000 eggs remain, degenerating with time. Fertility can begin to decline in your late 20s and deteriorate significantly after age 35. A healthy 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance of conceiving each month. By age 40, it’s just 5%.

Your fertile days are few

Women are really only fertile about three to five days each month. The key is to figure out when in your cycle those days will occur. A couple should aim to have intercourse around the time of ovulation to become pregnant. Dr. Stephen Blaha with Atrium Health Women’s Care Natural Family Planning OB-GYN, says there are a number of strategies to determine when you’re most fertile.

“There are a variety of apps that can help you track your periods and improve the ability to detect ovulation,” Blaha says. “Also, cervical mucus, or vaginal discharge, changes happen right before and as you are ovulating, which indicates when you’re most fertile. There are other signs your body gives you as well to indicate ovulation.”

Blaha also suggests purchasing an over-the-counter ovulation prediction kit.

Infertility is a medical problem

Infertility can be a tough journey. It may happen because of a health issue with either you or your partner, or a mix of factors that prevent pregnancy. The major symptom is not being able to conceive. But certain conditions and changes are indications of infertility.

Fertility can be affected by:

  • An ovulation hormonal disorder
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Male factor infertility (low semen count)

Tobacco and alcohol use, being obese or underweight, intense athletic training, and having an eating disorder can also affect fertility.

Infertility can happen at any time

Blaha says for women who have children, a delay in conceiving again can be surprising.

“Secondary infertility is typically diagnosed after trying unsuccessfully to conceive for six months to a year,” Blaha says. “It is often caused by the same factors that cause primary infertility in couples who've never had a baby. For women, age is a common factor.”

Blaha encourages women to start with their OB-GYN for an evaluation, who can then determine next steps.

“It’s important to understand how your body works so you and your healthcare provider can maximize your chances of starting or adding to your family.”

The road to conceiving a baby can be challenging, but Atrium Health experts are here to support you along the way. If you plan to start a family soon or are having trouble conceiving, schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN near you.

 For more information visit AtriumHealth.org/Women