Fertility can be a tricky subject and two questions that I often hear are “I have regular periods does that mean I am fertile”? and “if I have regular periods, why aren’t I pregnant”
There’s a very good chance if you are experiencing a regular monthly period, you are fertile. While it is true that women have a finite number of eggs, lack of conception is predominately due to other causes.
From the moment a girl is born, she typically has between one and two million eggs in her ovaries. As she begins to grow, she will begin to lose these eggs so that by the time she hits puberty, she will be left with 300,000 to 500,000. Each month, menstruation, or your ‘period’ occurs when your body releases one of these eggs along with the lining of your uterus because the egg has not become fertilised.
Before you begin to worry that you might be infertile, know that only about 10% of couples are affected by infertility. Unless there are complications that you are aware of, we recommend that you continue trying for at least a twelve months if you are younger than 35 before you look further into the possibility of infertility.
In some cases though, there are good reasons for asking your GP for a referral to a specialist and getting the answers you need sooner rather than later. If you have experienced pelvic infections, endometriosis, or pelvic surgeries, these can lead to scarring and damaging of the fallopian tubes.
As women age, their chances of conceiving decrease, with the quality and quantity of viable eggs decreasing from 35 years onwards, and becoming very obvious in their 40’s. Other changes such as menstual cycles becoming irregular or shorter, the lining of the womb may become thinner and less able to nuture a fertilised egg may also affect fertility. Despite this biological fact, many women aged over 35 do successfully become pregnant and have a baby.
Other reasons for infertility include any damage to the fallopian tubes, hormonal causes, endometriosis, cervical causes, and uterine and immunological causes.
If you have irregular or no periods, there may be hormonal causes preventing you from getting pregnant. In simple terms, this means that the synchronised changes in your body that allow an egg to be released or fertilised just do not happen, making it difficult for this natural process to occur. This can be more difficult to monitor, and would require consultation from a professional doctor or fertility specialist. Another condition would be an abnormality of your uterus, the presence of polyps or fibroids.
After initial consultation, investigations may involve conducting tests such as ultrasound, to assess the condition of your uterus, as well as your fallopian tubes.
It is good to know of all the possibilities associated with fertility and becoming pregnant but rest assured, if you are getting your period regularly, chances are that you are fertile.