National Fertility Awareness Week begins today, so what better time to share some facts you might not know about couples who struggle to become parents?
Fertility issues are all too often misrepresented and misunderstood. This week aims to highlight the unseen, intimate and day-to-day reality of fertility issues to overturn the common misconceptions.
In the UK, one in six couples experience the pain fertility issues brings. Even if you don’t have a direct experience you probably know someone who does.
Fertility specialist Dr. Manuel Muñoz, Director of IVI Fertility Alicante, reveals the information that's important for us to know about fertility, whether it's before, during or after menopause.
Infertility down to age isn't just because of menopause
Dr. Muñoz explains that women have 1 to 2 million eggs, we're born with them and we won't produce anymore. Every month, the number of eggs we have reduces by hundreds. So, when we reach menopause, there will be only around 100 eggs remaining.
Reduced fertility is likely because the number of eggs decline, as well as the quality. Plus, age-related uterine changes can have an effect. What's important to know is that this can occur before menopause, and can even happen before we're given any indication of perimenopause either.
Menopause decreases risk of conceiving naturally
Our age has a direct impact on the chances of us getting pregnant, for women who are under 35 you have a 25% chance of getting pregnant during sex when a woman is ovulating. After this age, the chances of falling pregnant naturally gets slimmer and slimmer as time goes on.
When women reach 40, an age when menopause commonly begins, your chances of getting pregnant reduces to less than 10% a month. Pregnancy is possible until there has been 12 months continuously, of no periods, this is when menopause is confirmed.
Once this has happened, pregnancy won't occur naturally and using a donor egg and in vitro fertilisation is the only option.
Menopause doesn't stop you from having fertility treatment
Getting pregnant as you get older is likely to be more of a problem, and Dr Munoz says that he recommends women freeze their eggs before they turn 38. Doing this ensures the highest chance that they eggs will thaw successfully. You can even use these eggs after going through menopause.
He recommends that women take on all considerations when they consider egg freezing and don't just rush their decision.
IF however, you ave not frozen your own eggs and are going through perimenopause, then egg donation is going to be the most effective treatment for you. This is where you use another woman's egg and fertilise it with your partner's sperm. This egg is then implanted to your uterus, so you still birth the baby.
Hormone treatments are likely for women who would like to get pregnant post-menopause, as this helps to prepare the uterus for the embryo implantation.
Stress decreases your chances of getting pregnant
A study has revealed that stress can impact the chances of getting pregnant by as much as 40%.
Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of best-selling ‘Getting Pregnant Faster’ explains why: “The release of the stress hormone prolactin in response to a crisis can affect a woman’s ability to conceive and in extreme cases can stop her ovulating. It seems to be nature’s way of protecting women from getting pregnant at a time when would find it hard to cope”.
Stress can also impact a man's hormone balance, which in turn leads to a lowering in his levels of testosterone, as well as his sperm count.