Having questions and concerns about fertility—meaning your ability to conceive a child—isn’t just limited to women who are trying to conceive. Many are curious about fertility, including women who might want to conceive in the future, women who are trying to protect themselves against pregnancy, women with irregular periods, and more. Keep reading to learn more about when women are most fertile, how irregular periods might impact fertility, how lifestyle can affect your ability to get pregnant, and more.
Will I be able to get pregnant?
Women are most fertile in their twenties and start to see a decrease in fertility around age 35. Around age 37, fertility declines more rapidly. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to conceive if you’re older—35-year-old women still have more than 50% odds of conceiving naturally during their first year of trying.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), somewhere around 10 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant, and around one-third of couples in which the woman trying to conceive is over 35 have fertility problems. Along with age-related changes, a number of health conditions can make it difficult or impossible for a woman to conceive, including ovulation disorders, damage to the fallopian tubes, cervical or uterine abnormalities, early menopause, endometriosis, cancer, and cancer treatments.
What is infertility?
For a woman who is under age 35, infertility means not being able to get pregnant after having frequent, unprotected sex for one year. For women who are 35 and older, infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after trying for six months. Keep in mind that men can contribute to infertility, too—this isn’t just a problem that affects women. Male infertility contributes to around one-third of all fertility problems.
At what point in trying to conceive should I see my doctor about fertility?
If you’re trying to conceive or think you may want to in the future, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor so you can make sure you’re taking the most appropriate steps to make it happen.
Many women who have trouble getting pregnant wonder when it’s an appropriate time to seek help or advice from a doctor. If you’re under age 35, the general guidance is to try getting pregnant for a year before seeing a fertility doctor. If you’re 35 or older, you should see a doctor if you haven’t been able to get pregnant after six months of trying. And if you’re older than 40, the recommendation typically is to see a doctor right away.
If my cycle is irregular, does this mean I may have fertility problems?
If your cycle is irregular or you’re not getting your period at all, you may not be ovulating every month, or you may be ovulating at different times each month. Irregular ovulation can be caused by various conditions including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), stress, weight, thyroid conditions, and perimenopause. Any condition that causes irregular ovulation and periods can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant, as ovulation is a necessary step in getting pregnant. Keep in mind that irregular periods do not mean you won’t be able to conceive.
Is there anything I can do to protect my fertility?
Your overall health and reproductive health are connected in a big way, so it’s important to keep lifestyle factors like exercise, nutrition, and alcohol use in mind as you’re trying to conceive. Try to maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and heavy alcohol use, and limit stress.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.