How Alcohol Affects A Womans Menstrual Cycle
For normal menstruation cycles to take place, a womans body needs to have a proper balance in the amount of estrogen and progesterone produced.
Heavy drinking for longer periods interferes with the normal menstruation cycle and reproductive functions by disrupting the hormone levels. This causes a change in the normal balance of the production of estrogen and progesterone, while this happens, a woman experiences changes during her menstruation among them, Irregular Periods, missed periods, and a failure to ovulate, which in turn play a huge part in conceiving.
A healthy conception only happens with success in ovulation and a disruption of these things can prove difficult to conceive.
How Does Pregnancy Occur
A pregnancy occurs when a mobile sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell and the fertilised egg gets implanted in the uterus. To do this, the sperm cell must swim up from the vagina and into the fallopian tube via the cervix. After fertilisation, the egg cell travels from the ovary to the uterus via the fallopian tube. Here, it attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. Soon after, the remaining processes that are part of pregnancy follow suit.
Conception can happen at any time, from a few hours after intercourse to 5 days after sex. The fastest-swimming sperm may zero in on the egg in just about 45 minutes while slower swimmers may take up to 12 hours to navigate the same journey. Sperm cells can take a break for up to 5 days in the hospitable environment of the fallopian tube and still do their primary job of fertilizing the ovum. This happens if ovulation happens 5 days after sex. This means that if at any time in this window of opportunity an egg is released, the sperm has a chance of fertilizing it.
So, we can see that in the action of conception, there are various markers that have to be met:
- There must be a mobile sperm cell.
- There must be a viable egg.
- They must meet at some time.
- Conception is most probable if when the sperm reaches the uterus, it meets with a viable egg.
- This is logically most probable if a woman has sex when there is a viable egg in the uterus.
Getting Pregnant And Having A Healthy Baby
It is estimated that at least 20% of women now wait until after the age of 35 to have their first child. Because more women are waiting to start a family, age-related infertility has increased in recent years. A womans peak fertility occurs in her 20s. From age 30 to 35, women experience a gradual decline in fertility. After age 35, fertility begins to decline more quickly. Be age 40, pregnancy potential is reduced by up to 50 %.
Infertility is generally defined as the failure to conceive after a full year of unprotected intercourse. Women over 35, because they have less time to waste, should speak to their doctor after just six months of unsuccessfully trying to conceive.
There are many factors that may contribute to reduced fertility, including irregular ovulation and conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome . But the most important factor affecting fertility in women over age 35 is a decrease in egg quality. This decrease in quality impairs fertilization and embryo development, and reduces the chances of achieving a healthy pregnancy.
The same factors that reduce egg quality also increase the risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities such as those that cause Downs Syndrome. New research suggests that there are things you can do to improve egg quality, which will increase the ability to conceive and improve your chances for a healthy baby.
Nutrients for Women Over 35 Trying to Conceive
Coenzyme Q10 for Improved Quality
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Why Does Fertility Change Over Time
So, why do our bodies become less equipped for conception the older we get? It basically comes down to the simple fact that people with ovaries are born with a certain number of eggs: This number is astonishingly around seven million when youre just a fetus. Once youre born, that number drops down to around a million, and at puberty youre down to around 300K.
As you can probably guess, this number will continue to decrease as you go about living your life, and for a lot of that time, maybe not even thinking about your fertility. In addition to the number of eggs remaining, the quality of the eggs you have also drops over the years. So, even if an egg is available for fertilization, its quality plays a role in whether or not meeting up with sperm would result in a viable pregnancy.
While there’s no way to test for egg quality before trying to get pregnant, you can get insight into egg quantity. Measuring your anti-Mullerian hormone is the best way to understand your ovarian reserve or how many eggs you have in the wings. The Modern Fertility Hormone Test makes that easy with a simple at-home finger prick. You’ll even get detailed, personalized reports on your ovarian reserve, predicted menopause timing, as well as potential outcomes for egg freezing and in-vitro fertilization all good things to know when you’re mapping out your timeline for kids.
Success Rates After Age 35
Maybe you’re thinking you can just use fertility treatments. With IVF available, why worry about age? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Just as your body doesn’t respond as well to your own hormones , your body will also not respond as well to fertility drug hormones.
According to statistics collected by the Center for Disease Control, the percentage of live births from IVF procedures using the mother’s eggs decreases with age. The live birth rates, after IVF treatment, are:
- 41.5% for women younger than 35
- 31.9% for women age 35 to 37
- 22.1% for women age 38 to 40
- 12.4% in women age 41 to 42
- 5% for women ages 43 to 44
- 1% for women older than 44 years old
The good news is that while the ovaries don’t work as well as women age, the uterus doesn’t seem to suffer as dramatically from aging. Women who can’t conceive using their own eggs can turn to egg donor IVF.
Women who used fresh egg donor IVF had an average 56% chance of pregnancy across all age groups, with odds reducing by age. While 36% of IVF implantations using a woman’s own fertilized eggs resulted in pregnancy.
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What If I Cant Get Pregnant Naturally Will Ivf Help
If you are struggling with age or non-age-related infertility , a fertility doctor can help.
The first line of treatment for mild infertility is Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, which is when a doctor inserts sperm into a womans uterus at the time of ovulation in hopes of achieving pregnancy. This can often be combined with medications to increase the number of eggs released at the time of ovulation.
For more advanced cases, and even some mild cases that want to see success quickly, IVF is the treatment option to pursue, as its got the highest success rates by far. IVF dramatically improves live birth rates for infertile couples and gives them a chance at family-building.
It is just as shocking as it is for a woman who got pregnant quickly with her first child to discover just a few years later that she has a low ovarian reserve and may not conceive again, either naturally or with IVF. Its also shocking when that same woman, several more years later, conceives naturally and gives birth to a healthy baby. While these types of surprise success stories are not as common as one would like, they certainly happen. Ask any fertility doctor.
Jeffrey T. Thorne
Dr. Thornes professional expertise covers the full range of reproductive endocrinology and infertility care, including comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, In Vitro Fertilization and Intrauterine Insemination , third party reproduction, and egg freezing.
Chances Of Getting Pregnant Before Your Period
Can a woman get pregnant right before her period? For the sake of this question, let us assume that this refers to the week leading up to the period. In this scenario, we also need to assume that the woman in question is aware of her period cycle.
In that case, unless she is ovulating in that week, it is highly unlikely that sex that takes place during that week will lead to conception. Typically, a womans most fertile period to get pregnant is the period lasting from five days before her ovulation to ovulation itself. Unless this time matches with the week before her period, fertilization cannot happen. The rare case where this can happen is when a woman has a very short cycle of about 19-22 days, where it is possible that sex before periods can lead to a pregnancy.
If you are trying to get pregnant and are wondering, Can I get pregnant after ovulation but before my period?, the answer is yes, you can. While the chances are low, it is certainly not impossible.
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Chances Of Getting Pregnant During Your Period
Is it possible for a woman to get pregnant during her periods? Well, this depends on the woman, the length of her period, its regularity and the time of her ovulation.
If youre also wondering whether you can get pregnant while youre menstruating and whether having sex during your period can lead to a pregnancy, the answer is yes if the following holds true for you:
- Your period is regular.
- It lasts for up to 5-7 days.
- The time between your cycles is short .
- You ovulate around the 10th to 12th day of your cycle.
In all these situations, the sperm that has entered your body during sex while having a period can fertilize an egg and you can get pregnant.
Does Your Chance Of Getting Pregnant Decrease With Age
What can we deduce from this data, other than that your chances of pregnancy decrease with age?
Well, we can say that the chance of naturally ovulating a normal egg each month goes way down after a woman is 37 in fact, her chances of ovulating a normal egg are a little less than 60% each month.
Suppose you think thats still pretty good. In that case, youre right but remember, even normal eggs and embryos dont lead to a successful pregnancy 100% of the time, so saying the woman has a 60% chance of ovulating a normal egg each month is not the same as saying she has a 60% chance of pregnancy each month in fact, the figure is much lower .
On top of that, the aneuploidy rate increases faster after 37 and very rapidly after 40. Because aneuploidy usually means no pregnancy or a miscarriage, a high aneuploidy rate indicated a low sustained pregnancy rate.
Dr. Franasiaks data also allows us to deduce miscarriage prevalence among different age groups. Because we know aneuploidy is the leading cause of miscarriage, we can safely assume women in age groups with high aneuploidy rates would also have high miscarriage rates. In other words, the older the woman, the less chance she gets pregnant, and if she does, the higher the chance shell miscarry.
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An Egg With Too Many Or Too Few Chromosomes Broken Or Damaged Chromosomes Will Often Fail To Develop Properly
Having chromosomal abnormalities in her eggs doesnt necessarily mean a woman is infertile, but they do mean that more of her menstrual cycles will produce eggs that are less likely to produce a viable baby.
Chromosomes are bundles of tightly coiled DNA that hold the genetic information needed for an organism to develop. A human egg contains 23 chromosomes the half of your genetic code that comes from your mother which needs to combine with the 23 chromosomes from your fathers sperm to develop into a viable embryo. An egg with too many or too few chromosomes, broken or damaged chromosomes will often fail to develop properly. In some cases a baby can still be born with chromosomal abnormalities, as happens with Downs Syndrome.
But most chromosomal abnormalities tend to be lethal to the extremely young embryo, resulting in the embryo failing to implant in the lining of the womb or a very early miscarriage, often between five and eight weeks of pregnancy.
While the risk of chromosomal abnormalities is known to be higher in the eggs of older women, a recent European study found that the level of chromosomal abnormalities is also high in younger women too from 13 into their early 20s. The findings suggest that female fertility timeline follows a n-shaped pattern, with peak fertility observed in the mid-20s and lower levels of fertility both in very young and older women.
For Wells, the evidence is clear.
Extent Of The Problem
One in six couples have an unwanted delay in conception. Roughly half of these couples will conceive either spontaneously or with relatively simple advice or treatment. The other half remain subfertile and need more complex treatment, such as in vitro fertilisation and other assisted conception techniques about half of these will have primary subfertility.
Most couples presenting with a fertility problem do not have absolute infertility , but rather relative subfertility with a reduced chance of conception because of one or more factors in either or both partners. Most couples with subfertility will conceive spontaneously or will be amenable to treatment, so that only 4% remain involuntarily childless. As each couple has a substantial chance of conceiving without treatment, relating the potential benefit of treatment to their chances of conceiving naturally is important to give a realistic appraisal of the added benefit offered by treatment options.
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Risk Of Genetic Problems
Besides low-quality semen, age also affects the genetic quality of male sperm.
In a study conducted at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, researchers discovered that genetic defects in the sperm increase with age in men.
These genetic sperm defects may cause:
- Increased risk of some birth defects
- Increased risk of stillbirth
The scientists reported that older men are not only at risk for infertility. They are also more likely to pass on genetic problems to their children. A combination of female age and male age can further increase the risk of birth defects. Take for example the risk of Down syndrome. In women, the risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases with age.
In a study of just over 3,000 children, researchers found that when a woman was age 35 or older, a mans age mattered more. This was especially true if the woman was age 40 or older. In this group, 50% of the children with Down syndrome received that genetic defect on their paternal side.
Down syndrome isnt the only risk that increases with paternal age. Older fathers are more likely to have children with:
- achondroplasia, a kind of dwarfism
Treatments And Getting Help
The good news is that there are a number of options and treatment plans to help with conception for women in perimenopause. Common options for treatment include medications, surgery, and IVF, but other lifestyle factors such as activity level and diet can also be reviewed to increase your chances of success.
Act quickly and speak to your OB/GYN to discuss the options available to you. Every woman is different and your healthcare practitioner can help you determine the best course of action.
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Do You Need Contraceptives During Perimenopause
Unless you are absolutely sure you are in full menopause, getting pregnant is still a possibility and therefore contraceptives are essential. Whether you are using birth control or other methods of contraception, if you want to be sure you still need to use it. Some studies have found that over 75% of pregnancies in women over 40 are unplanned, so its important to assume you are fertile, unless proven otherwise.
Further Reading And Resources
- Management of infertility in primary care: The initial investigation and management of the infertile couple. Evidence based clinical guidelines, 1998 www.rcog.org.uk/guidelines.asp?pageID = 108& GuidelineID = 25
- Balen AH, Jacobs HS Infertility in practice. Churchill Livingstone:London, 1997
- Bolumar F, Olsen J, Boldsen J. Smoking reduces fecundity: a European multicenter study on infertility and subfecundity. The European Study Group on Infertility and Subfecundity. Am J Epidemiol 1996 143: 578-7
- Bolumar F, Olsen J, Rebagliato M, Saez-Lloret I, Bisanti L. Body mass index and delayed conception: a European multicenter study on infertility and subfecundity. Am J Epidemiol 2000 151: 1072-9
- Collins JA, Burrows EA, Willan AR. The prognosis for live birth among untreated infertile couples. Fertil Steril 1995 64: 22-8
- Forman R, Gilmour-White S, Forman N. Drug-induced infertility and sexual dysfunction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996
- Skakkebaek NE, Giwercman A, de Kretser D. Pathogenesis and management of male fertility. Lancet 1994 343: 1473-9
- Dunson DB, Colombo B, Baird DD. Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle. Hum Reprod 2002 17: 1399-403
BMJ Publishing Group
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How To Take Action
Raise your hand if youre excited about your period. No? Nobody?
We get it. But the most actionable piece of advice for improving the odds of getting pregnant? Understanding your menstrual cycle and when you ovulate to better time intercourse around your most fertile days, says Dr. Zore. So, I say again, raise your hand if youre excited about your period!
To really dig into menstrual tracking for the sake of TTC, monitoring for ovulation is essential. Dr. Zore recommends either tracking the signs and symptoms that occur during ovulation or using ovulation predictor kits like these, or both!
2. Plot out your prime time to get busy
On the day of likely ovulation, its time to have sex! The best times to have sex for conception are the day of suspected ovulation and the next two days.
3. Use the right lube
A word of caution: Not all lubricants are TTC-friendly. Some lubes are harmful to sperm, potentially reducing the likelihood of conception during those sex sessions. Take a few moments to check ingredients. Dr. Zore recommends that we stick to those that contain a hydroxyethyl cellulose base.
4. Keep up with wellness