Staying on Top of Your Sexual Health at Every Age

Staying healthy isn’t only about exercising, eating right, and getting your annual physical exam. Staying on top of your sexual and reproductive health is equally important. We understand that for some women, this can get confusing as the recommendations aren’t necessarily the same for young, middle-aged and older adults.

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To help steer you along, we’ve created a guide to managing your sexual and reproductive health, incorporating tips from womenshealth.gov and other top sources. And we’ve organized it by decade, so it can serve as a helpful resource now and in the years to come, no matter what your age.

In your twenties

  • Start taking between 400 and 800 micrograms of folic acid each day. This is particularly important if you plan to or may get pregnant important, because it provides protection to unborn babies from serious birth defects.
  • Schedule a yearly appointment with a physician or gynecologist who is knowledgeable about sexual and reproductive health.
  • Speak to your physician about birth control options each year.
  • Let your physician know if you plan to get pregnant within the next year.
  • Discuss your family health history with your physician.
  • Get the HPV vaccine if you haven’t yet done so.
  • Make sure you receive Pap tests and HPV tests at the recommended intervals.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections and speak with your doctor about ways you can protect yourself against them.

In your thirties

  • Continue to take between 400 and 800 micrograms of folic acid each day.
  • See your gynecologist or primary care physician for a yearly appointment to discuss your sexual and reproductive health, being sure to discuss your family health history.
  • Each year, have a conversation with your physician about whether you plan to get pregnant that year or about your birth control options.
  • Ask your physician if you need to be tested for sexually transmitted infections, HPV, or get a Pap test.
  • Get the HPV vaccine if you haven’t yet done so.
  • Speak with your doctor about ways to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections.

In your forties

  • If you haven’t gone through menopause, continue to take between 400 and 800 micrograms of folic acid each day.
  • See your gynecologist or physician for a yearly appointment.
  • Speak to your physician about your family health history, including your cancer risk.
  • If you haven’t gone through menopause, speak with your doctor about birth control options or if you plan to get pregnant within the year.
  • Have a conversation with your gynecologist about perimenopause symptoms and what to expect.
  • Ask your gynecologist about whether you need a mammogram. For women ages 45 to 54, these are recommended yearly by the American Cancer Society.
  • Ask your physician if you need a Pap test, STI testing, and/or HPV testing. Make sure you are getting tested at the recommended intervals.
  • Speak with your doctor about ways you can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • If you are 45 or younger, get the HPV vaccine if you haven’t yet done so.

In your fifties

  • See your gynecologist or other physician for a yearly appointment and be sure to discuss your family health history.
  • Speak to your doctor about menopause and menopause symptoms.
  • If you still get a menstrual period, talk with your physician about birth control options.
  • Ask your doctor if you need STI testing, and speak with them about ways you can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Continue to get necessary Pap and HPV tests at the recommended intervals.
  • See your doctor for a mammogram every year through age 54, and every other year from that point on (or continue on a yearly schedule).

In your sixties

  • See your gynecologist or physician for a yearly appointment.
  • Make sure you have a mammogram done every other year.
  • When you’re 65 and younger, make sure you’re getting necessary Pap and HPV tests.
  • For women over the age of 65, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health recommends Pap tests only if you’ve never been tested, or if you haven’t been tested at any point since reaching age 60.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections, if necessary, and talk with your physician about ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Speak to your physician about cancer risk.

In your seventies

  • Get necessary mammograms if you are 74 or younger.
  • Get testing for sexually transmitted infections, if necessary, and talk with your physician about ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Speak to your physician about your cancer risk.

In your eighties and nineties

  • Speak to your doctor about your cancer risk.
  • Get testing for sexually transmitted infections, if necessary.

If you have any concerns about your sexual and reproductive health and want to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, contact Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Important Yet Overlooked: Placenta Health

Though the placenta plays an extremely important role in human development, it isn’t talked about all that much. The placenta is an organ that develops within the uterus during pregnancy, and is delivered vaginally following child birth. Some say a healthy placenta is the most important component of developing a healthy baby—this is because it plays a few key roles. One is that it brings oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. Another is that it takes away waste away from the baby’s blood. Third, the placenta plays a role in providing immune protection to developing babies.

Placenta Health

A healthy placenta is crucial to a healthy pregnancy, but the health of your placenta can be affected by numerous factors such as blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, maternal age (for example, problems with the placenta are more common in women who are older than 40), trauma to the abdomen, substance misuse, and a history of uterine surgery. Women with placenta problems may experience signs and symptoms like abdominal pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions, and back pain.

Some of the most common placenta-related medical conditions include:

  • Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery and can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients. This condition may also cause heavy bleeding in the mother.
  • Placenta previa, in which the placenta sits very low in the uterus and partially or fully covers the cervix. This condition is common in the earlier parts of pregnancy and can involve very heavy bleeding.
  • Placenta accreta, where parts of the placenta grow deeply into the uterine wall, often leading the placenta to remain attached to the uterine wall after childbirth.

It can be difficult to prevent placenta problems, but there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk and work towards a healthy pregnancy. One of the most important things you can do is to see your healthcare provider regularly to maintain your overall health and to manage any existing conditions that may potentially affect the health of your placenta.

The placenta is the least studied of all human organs, but in recent years there’s been an abundance of new research. Here are a few noteworthy projects related to placenta health that may lay the groundwork for gathering new information about the role of the placenta in human health and development:

  • Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have been working on the the Human Placenta Project, which aims to understand more about the role that the placenta plays in the health of mothers and children, as well as in the development of disease throughout each stage of pregnancy. You can read more about the project
  • Scientists have been developing miniature, lab-grown placentas to learn more about conditions like stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and miscarriage. These lab-grown placentas are also being used in other interesting and important ways such as studying how infections like Zika impact unborn babies. In the future, they may be even be used to check the safety of drugs taken during pregnancy and to see how hormones may indicate if a placenta isn’t functioning properly and is at risk for complications.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com to schedule an appointment.

8 Interesting Facts About Your Nipples

Despite the fact that nearly all of us have nipples, talking about them isn’t all that common. This leaves people with a lot of questions about everything from their nipple health to whether the look and feel of their nipples is normal. Keep reading to find out eight interesting facts about your nipples.

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Sore nipples are normal
Your nipples and breasts may become sore and swollen during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the days preceding your menstrual period—this is common among many women and in most cases is nothing to worry about.

Serious nipple pain signals something could be wrong
It’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor if you experience nipple pain that’s intense, as this indicates a possible infection. Besides pain, other common signs to look out for with an infection include chills, a fever of higher than 101, breast swelling, and warmth and redness of the breasts.

Your nipples can bleed as a result of poorly fitting clothing
It’s not all that uncommon for nipples to start bleeding as a result of chafing under poorly fitting clothing—especially after a long workout. If this is happening to you a lot and a clothing swap doesn’t fix the problem, try placing bandages over your nipples for protection. Persistent bleeding from your nipple warrants evaluation from a gynecologist or your primary care physician.

Nipple discharge doesn’t always mean something is wrong
Discharge from the nipples isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, especially if the discharge comes from both nipples and is released when you compress your breasts.

But it’s important to know key signs that signal something abnormal may be going on. If you experience bloody discharge, you’ll want to see your physician for further testing to figure out what’s going on. Another sign that something may be wrong is if the discharge only comes from one breast and occurs even when you haven’t touched or irritated your breast in any way.

In most situations, nipple discharge occurs due to a benign condition or is completely normal, but in a small number of cases it could be a symptom of breast cancer.

Many women experience itchy nipples
Your nipples can become itchy for a number of reasons including irritation, breastfeeding, pregnancy, menopause, cold weather,  and eczema. Over-the-counter medicines often do the trick to resolve the itching, but if the irritation persists, you’ll want to see your doctor.

Inverted nipples are usually not a problem
Many women have inverted nipples that have always been that way or that inverted around the time of puberty. These are completely normal and work the same way as protracted nipples—many women can even breastfeed with inverted nipples. But if one of your nipples suddenly becomes inverted, this could be a sign of cancer and warrants a visit to your doctor.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of hair on your nipples
A lot of women have a few hairs on their nipples, and this is nothing to worry about. Often the amount of nipple hair comes down to genetics—some women simply have hairier nipples than others, and it’s not a problem. Extra hair during and after pregnancy is common, too. But if you notice more hair on your nipples than usual, or hairiness developing between the breasts, you’ll want to see your doctor so they can test for a possible hormonal imbalance.

One of your nipples might look different from another
One of your nipples may be a different size or in a different position than the other, and this is perfectly normal. Nipples that have always looked a bit different are typically no big deal, but if you notice a change to one of your nipples that makes it appear different than the other, it may be a good idea to be in touch with your doctor.

Nipples vary from person to person and many of the issues you may think are problematic are actually nothing to worry about. If you have further questions or concerns about your nipples, speaking with a knowledgeable doctor is recommended. To set up an appointment, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

How to Know if You’re Experiencing Kidney Stones

You’ve probably heard of kidney stones, but unless you’ve gone through the painful experience of passing one, you may not really know what they are. Simply put, kidney stones are hard deposits of salts and minerals that form within your kidneys and then dislodge and make their way to other parts of your urinary tract. Usually this happens when an excess of certain minerals (such as phosphorus, oxalate, and calcium) concentrate in your urine, often when you’re not well hydrated.

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Though kidney stones are painful, they usually don’t cause long-term damage if they’re dealt with right away. Here are a number of things to look for so you know if you may be suffering from kidney stones:

  • Severe pain in your groin, back, lower abdomen, or side. This pain may come in waves or vary in its intensity.
  • Blood in your urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Producing small amounts of urine
  • Pressure on the bladder or a frequent urge to urinate
  • Pain while urinating
  • Urine that’s cloudy or smells bad
  • Fever and chills (in cases where an infection is present)

It’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. In particular, it’s important to see a doctor if you’re experiencing blood in your urine, pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting or fever and chills, trouble passing urine, or pain that’s so strong you have trouble finding a comfortable position.

Kidney stones image

Fortunately, kidney stones can be prevented. Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind, whether or not you’ve suffered from kidney stones in the past:

Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones. This works because it helps dilute the waste in your urine and makes it more difficult for kidney stones to form.  Hydration is even more important to think about this during the hotter times of year when you’re sweating and losing more water than usual.

Keep sodium intake to a minimum
Consuming a high sodium diet can increase the amount of calcium in your urine, which can make you more likely to develop kidney stones. Try keeping your daily intake below the recommended limit of 2,300 per day, or even lower if you’ve had trouble with kidney stones in the past.

Watch what you eat
When consumed in high amounts, animal proteins can raise your uric acid levels and contribute to kidney stone formation. And high-oxalate foods like spinach, cashews, almonds, and beets can lead to kidney stones, too. One way to counter problems with high-oxalate foods is to consume foods rich in calcium alongside them. For example, if you’ve had issues with kidney stones in the past, try mixing nuts into yogurt rather than eating them on their own.

If you have any concerns about kidney stones and want to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

What to Know About Sex and Yeast Infections

Simply put, yeast infections are not very fun. When you’re suffering from one, it’s usually a pretty uncomfortable experience with all sorts of symptoms including burning, itching, vaginal pain, a thick discharge, and pain during sex and urination. Yeast infections are fairly common, affecting 75% of women at some point in their lifetimes, and are caused by a fungus (or yeast) called Candida. Candida is common in the body and usually doesn’t cause any problems, but it can multiply and lead to an infection in cases where the vaginal environment is altered.

Happy couple holding hands closeup

With treatment, yeast infections typically clear up within a week. In the meantime, you may find yourself wondering whether it’s okay to have sex, and the short answer is no. You should hold off until your yeast infection is gone. Here are a few reasons why:

Discomfort
When you have a yeast infection, you’re usually not feeling well in the vaginal area, and sex isn’t going to make things any better. Seriously. In fact, having sex when you’re already suffering from itching, burning, and other symptoms can make you feel even worse.

Prolonging your yeast infection
In some cases, engaging in sexual activity can even make your yeast infection stick around longer, or lead to the reappearance of symptoms that recently went away. One reason for this is because many yeast infection medications are taken vaginally and sex can interfere with your medication and push it out from the vagina.

You may pass it on to your partner
It’s not the most common occurrence, but it is possible to pass along a yeast infection to a male or female partner when engaging in sexual activity. Among men, transmission is more likely in certain situations, such as when he’s uncircumcised, has recently been taking antibiotics for a prolonged period of time, is overweight, has poor hygiene, or has an impaired immune system. Fortunately, yeast infections can usually be cleared up pretty easily among both men and women with an over-the-counter antifungal.

What to do if you or your partner is infected with a yeast infection
When you have a yeast infection, it’s important to take medication. It’s a good idea to start with an over-the-counter antifungal medication found at the drugstore. These are available in different varieties—some only require one dose, while others are taken over the course of a few days or a week. If over-the-counter antifungals don’t work, get in touch with your gynecologist who will be able to write you a prescription for something different, such as an oral antifungal or one that’s taken over a longer period of time.

If you and your partner are both suffering from a yeast infection, make sure you both receive treatment before resuming sexual activity. You may think you’re in the clear if your symptoms have gone by the wayside, but if your partner is still suffering, your symptoms may reappear after resuming sexual activity, too. For the best health in the long run, you’ll both want to be feeling better before having sex.

If you have any concerns about a yeast infection and want an appointment with an experienced doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit us at www.aoafamily.com.

STD Rates Are on the Rise

STD rates in the United States have experienced a sharp rise over the past four years and recently reached an all-time high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017 alone, more than 2.3 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis were diagnosed, which was 200,000 cases more than in the year prior.

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When you look at the statistics closely, they’re pretty alarming. Primary and secondary syphilis rates rose a staggering 76%, while gonorrhea saw a 67% increase, and chlamydia rose to a total of more than 1.7 million cases. Somewhere around 45% of these chlamydia diagnoses were in young women between the ages of 15 and 24.

What happens when these illnesses are left untreated?
Despite the alarming number of diagnoses, the truth is that many cases go undiagnosed. Without treatment, sexually transmitted diseases continue to spread and can lead to a host of health problems like ectopic pregnancy, infertility, stillbirth, and increased risk of HIV. Chlamydia can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a harmful illness that can permanently damage the reproductive system. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in protecting your health.

Preventing a continued rise in STD rates
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can all be cured with antibiotics, but many cases go undiagnosed and untreated. This lack of treatment is a big contributor to why the illnesses continue to spread at such high rates.

In a CDC press briefing this fall, Edward Hook, a physician and director of the CDC funded STD Prevention Training Center, urged the importance of routine testing in preventing the spread of disease. Due to the high rates of chlamydia detected in young women, he recommends that all sexually active women who are under the age of 26 are tested for chlamydia each year. Education is also important here, and though budgets for STD-prevention public health programs have been cut in recent years, maintaining an open dialogue about STDs with your doctor can help keep you informed.

To prevent against the harmful effects of STDs, it’s important to take an active role in your health. This can be done through communicating with your doctor, asking them any questions you may have, making sure you get tested regularly if it’s suggested by your doctor, and following treatment plans if and when any STDs are diagnosed. Remember, the earlier the treatment, the better.

If you have any concerns about STDs, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a medical professional. To make an appointment, call us at 602-343-6174 or visit us at www.aoafamily.com.

Enlarged Ovaries: Should You Be Concerned?

Your ovaries can become enlarged for many reasons. Some of these conditions are completely harmless and others are a cause for concern. Typically, an enlarged ovary is more concerning in a woman who has already reached menopause and is no longer ovulating, compared with someone who’s still menstruating.  Follow along to learn about the various conditions can trigger the appearance of enlarged or swollen ovaries:

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a fairly common illness in which a woman has higher than normal levels of sex hormones known as androgens. Women with PCOS experience a range of symptoms including pelvic pain, facial hair, missed periods, heavy periods, and more. In many cases, the hormone imbalance leads to the development of cysts in the ovaries, which can then cause swelling. Typically, PCOS can be treated but not cured.

Ovulation
Sometimes enlarged ovaries aren’t anything to worry about and are simply due to ovulation. Typically, a woman’s ovaries will swell just before ovulation, which takes place about 14 days into the cycle.  This swelling is temporary and will subside after an egg is released.

Ovarian Cancer
Swollen ovaries can also be due to ovarian cancer. In this case, the swelling  accompanies other symptoms like bloating, abdominal and pelvic pain, a frequent need to urinate, quickly feeling full, weight loss, and more. Ovarian cancer can strike at any age, but it’s most common in women who are between 50- and 60-years-old. If you have any symptoms you’re concerned about, it’s important to see a doctor, as outcomes are best when ovarian cancer is caught early.

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is an illness that occurs when the uterine lining grows outside the uterus on other areas of the body where it doesn’t belong, such as the ovaries. In some cases, this can contribute to ovarian swelling and inflammation. This painful illness is fairly common, affecting more than 10% of women who fall between the ages of 15 and 44.

Endometriosis is treated in a number of ways, including pain medication, birth control pills, medications called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, and a few different types of surgery.

Benign ovarian cysts
Benign ovarian cysts are non-cancerous fluid-filled sacs that form on or within the ovaries. A few different types may form, and they’re most common during a woman’s menstruating years. Most of the time, benign ovarian cysts resolve on their own and are nothing to worry about.

Ovarian Tumors
Ovarian tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous and are usually accompanied by symptoms like bloating, indigestion, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or constipation. Depending on the type of tumor, treatment options might be surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this piece or have any concerns about potential ovarian swelling, it’s important to visit a doctor. To make an appointment, call us at 602-343-6174 or visit us at www.aoafamily.com.

Clinical Depression: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

It’s only human to feel sad, alone, and detached from time to time, but if these feelings seem to stick around longer than usual or you start to feel like they’re significantly interfering with your life, you could be suffering from clinical depression.

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Clinical depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is a mood disorder that manifests emotionally and physically and is known to cause persistent feelings of sadness and apathy. If you’re suffering from depression, you’re likely to feel alone, emotional, and uninterested in many of the activities that you used to enjoy. For example, maybe you used to go to a yoga class followed by dinner with friends every Wednesday night, but recently have been feeling withdrawn and haven’t had much interest in attending.

If it feels like you hear about depression a lot, this is probably because it’s one of the most common illnesses out there. In the United States, clinical depression affects about 7% of the adult population, and about a quarter of all adults will experience it at some point in their lives.

Clinical depression can strike suddenly and seemingly for no reason, but it’s often brought on by significant life events such as the death of a loved one, relationship troubles (including friendship, family, or a partner), the end of a relationship, moving, loss of a job or changing jobs, social isolation, graduation, abuse, and more. One notable factor about clinical depression is that it affects women at nearly twice the rate as men. This is due to a number of factors, but many are tied to hormonal changes that occur throughout the lifespan alongside menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and miscarriage. Should you notice changes in your mood surrounding any of these situations, or even seemingly out of the blue, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor.

Here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect that you’re suffering from clinical depression:

  • Trouble concentrating and focusing
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns, whether sleeping more or less than usual, or suffering from insomnia
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawal from close friends and family
  • Having a short temper
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling more emotional than usual
  • Feeling apathetic
  • A diminished sex drive
  • Significant change in body weight, whether weight loss or weight gain

If you have any concerns or questions about clinical depression and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

What is Lupus? Everything you Need to Know

If you’ve been experiencing fatigue, a face rash, sensitivity to sunlight, and other conditions that hint that something may be off, it might be time to see a doctor. While many of these symptoms may be nothing to worry about, they could also be signs of Lupus.

Woman lying on sofa having headache. Stressed girl suffering of fatigue, migraine, trying to cope with nervous tension, worries because of problems, unwanted pregnancy, negative thoughts and emotions

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. It’s chronic, meaning it lasts at least three months and often longer, and is known to cause major problems with skin, joints, and organs. Lupus can show up at any age but is most common among women who are between the ages of 15 and 44. Frequently, lupus goes untreated for quite some time because its symptoms are often similar to those of other ailments.  If you suspect you may be suffering from lupus, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Face rash: One of the most common signs of lupus is a facial rash that forms a butterfly-like shape across the nose and cheeks. This rash isn’t present in all cases of lupus but appears in many of them.
  • Fatigue: Another common sign of lupus is fatigue. Though it’s hard to measure scientifically, this sign is present within 50-90% of people suffering from lupus and is often strong enough to impact quality of life.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight: Nearly two out of every three individuals with lupus become sensitive to sunlight, and many of them develop a rash after spending time in the sun. More formally, this condition is known as photosensitivity.
  • Shortness of Breath: In some cases, lupus can cause lung inflammation that may contribute to difficulty breathing.
  • Headaches, Confusion, and Memory Loss: Lupus is known to cause headaches and various forms of cognitive impairment. Typically, these issues are worse during flare ups of the illness.
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain, swelling, and inflammation are common among individuals with lupus. This is so common that around 95% of people with lupus will experience arthritis or joint pain at some point.

You should consider seeing a doctor if you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, but especially if you’re experiencing persistent fatigue and fevers or a rash that can’t be explained. It’s important to see a doctor rather than brushing the symptoms aside, because sometimes the inflammation that’s triggered by lupus can cause other serious problems throughout the body, such as kidney damage, issues with the brain and central nervous system, blood issues like anemia, heart issues, and even pregnancy complications such as higher risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia.

While lupus is certainly a serious condition, it’s also treatable and can be managed to allow you to live a full and relatively normal life.  Lupus typically ranges from a mild condition to one that’s more life threatening, so it’s important to stay on top of your medical care to manage the illness. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from lupus and want to speak with a knowledgeable physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Understanding the Risks Involved in Having a Baby Later in Life

It’s not uncommon for many women to start thinking more seriously about childbirth as they get older. But while having a healthy pregnancy at an older age is possible for many women, it’s important to be mindful that it can be significantly more difficult and involve a number of risks. For many women, fertility begins to decrease slowly around age 32 or so, and then much more rapidly around age 37, which can make for a challenging experience in many ways. Read on to learn about some of the challenges women may face as they try to get pregnant as they hit their mid-thirties or forties.

Close Up Of Pregnant Businesswoman In Office

Increased time to conceive: As women get older and their bodies experience typical age-related changes, it often takes them much longer to conceive. Statistics show that while a woman may have a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant during each menstrual cycle when she’s in her twenties, these chances drop to about 15 percent by the time she reaches her mid-thirties, and down to around 5 or 10 percent by age 40. This doesn’t necessarily mean a woman cannot conceive altogether, but the process will typically be more challenging.

Infertility: Women have a harder time conceiving as they age, and may not be able to conceive altogether. It’s believed that somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of couples in the United States struggle with infertility, which is defined as an inability to get pregnant after having frequent, unprotected sex for more than one year. For many women, fertility declines gradually as they age, and then advances more rapidly around age 37.  Many causes contribute to female infertility, such as early menopause, ovulation disorders, age, and other health issues.

You may need to see a fertility specialist: If you’re over age 35 and have tried conceiving for six months without success, it may be time to see a reproductive endocrinologist for help. A reproductive endocrinologist is a fertility specialist who can help you work towards pregnancy by checking your health, making sure your fallopian tubes and eggs are functioning as they should, and recommending treatments like in-vitro fertilization or medication that can encourage ovulation. Your gynecologist should be able to recommend a fertility specialist if you’re interested in exploring this path.

Higher likelihood of complications: When women hit age 40 or so, they are more likely to develop pregnancy-related health complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Not only do these complications pose risks to a woman’s health, they also can contribute to pregnancy-related problems such as birth complications, miscarriage, and issues with the placenta.

Increased risk of miscarriage: After the age of 35 or so, women start to encounter a higher risk of miscarriage. Statistics show that at age 35, a woman’s risk of miscarriage is around 20 percent, but jumps much higher to around 80 percent by age 45.

Many women can still conceive and carry healthy pregnancies in their late thirties or forties, but the process is often far more challenging than it may be for younger women, given the issues we mentioned above, such as increased time to conceive, fertility issues, health risks, and more. If you have concerns about getting pregnant later in life and would like to speak with a physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.