Female fertility-understanding what it’s all about

The ability of a woman to conceive, carry the foetus to term and give birth to a live baby after nine months of gestation is what is termed as female fertility.

Fertility in females is dependent on her hormonal levels. Regular monthly changes in hormone levels bring about a cyclic chain of events known as the menstrual cycle. The average age at which this begins is 12-13 years.

Every month, hormonal changes in a woman’s body cause the ovaries to release a single egg. This egg passes into the fallopian tubes that link the ovaries to the uterus. At the same time, under the influence of hormones, the uterus is being prepared to receive a fertilized egg. The lining of the womb thickens. If fertilization does not occur, the womb lining will break down and will be shed through the vagina. This is a woman’s period.

Women of childbearing age have a period approximately every 28 days, although the length of the cycle can vary between 24 and 35 days. If a woman has unprotected sex with a man around the time of her egg being released, sperm from her partner may fertilize her egg while it is in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg will then travel to the womb and become embedded in its lining, where it will start to grow.

Women’s fertility declines gradually starting at about 32 years of age. It decreases more rapidly after 35 years of age.

Over 80% of couples in the general population will conceive within 1 year if the woman is aged under 40 years and they do not use contraception and have regular sexual intercourse. Of those who do not conceive in the first year, about half will do so in the second year (cumulative pregnancy rate over 90%).

A woman of reproductive age who has not conceived after 1 year of unprotected vaginal sexual intercourse, in the absence of any known cause of infertility, should be offered further clinical assessment and investigation along with her partner. There are many reasons for infertility and so are the treatments available. Many if the reasons can be addressed very easily.

Take the time to have regular health checks. This will ensure that you are in great health always to improve your chances of conceiving.  You will also have a healthy pregnancy and baby when you do conceive.

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