International Women’s Day: Things women must know about their reproductive health
Infertility is a common yet sensitive issue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that approximately 186 million individuals have infertility worldwide, due to the stigma attached to the topic and lack of awareness. Most people, especially women, don’t get enough information on fertility and reproductive health in general. When they are faced with the issue, it comes as a shock and causes stress and anxiety.
Here’s why it’s important for women to learn about fertility and reproductive health
There are many risk factors which affect a woman’s fertility. From age to lifestyle factors to the functioning of reproductive organs, there can be many underlying reasons which may affect your ability to get pregnant. When couples fail to conceive for more than a year (when women’s age is less than 35 years) without contraception, there could be a fertility issue that needs to be diagnosed. It is seen that infertility is generally harder on the female partner as they tend to blame themselves, plus the societal pressure makes things worse. This could lead to psychological distress amongst women. That’s why it is always better to be informed about these topics, so you are not caught off guard.
On International Women’s Day, here are some important things every woman should know about her reproductive health to have fertility awareness:
1. Track your menstruation cycle
A woman can only get pregnant a few days out of the month. This period is called the pregnancy window or fertile window, which lasts only six days each menstrual cycle. The six-day period begins 24 hours before the time of ovulation, which usually occurs 14 days before your next period starts. This is the time when you have the highest chances of getting pregnant as your ovaries release an egg during ovulation. Although you can get pregnant just after your period, it is highly unlikely. Therefore, it is vital to keep track of your menstruation cycle and the days that you ovulate, to ensure the right day you can conceive. Many women have irregular periods; they use ovulation predictors, basal body temperature measurement tools (obsolete now), or period tracker apps to help track ovulation and determine their pregnancy window.
2. Men and women can be affected by infertility
There is a misconception that a couple experiences fertility issues only due to a woman’s infertility. It is scientifically proven that one-third of couples experiencing fertility problems struggle to conceive due to the man’s fertility, another third is due to the woman’s fertility, and the reason for the rest remains unexplained. In men, the leading cause of infertility is the low quantity and quality of sperm due to several factors such as medical conditions like diabetes and infections. Infertility in men can also be caused due to damaged testicles, hormone levels, previous illness, and medications. If you are facing issues in conceiving your partner needs to get tested too.
3. Age plays a massive factor
Age is a significant factor that affects fertility, especially in women. Women who are 35 or older and are trying to conceive should understand that the quality and quantity of eggs declines with age. This makes conception difficult. In fact, various studies have been published which says paternal age more than 45 years will also have a decreased fertility rate
4. Making healthy lifestyle choices boosts fertility
Some lifestyle choices cause hormonal imbalances, impacting fertility, and making slight lifestyle changes can help you conceive. If you wish to boost your fertility, it is essential to maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and eating a nutritional diet as being overweight or underweight affects your hormones. Avoiding heavy drinking and quitting smoking will reduce the risk of depleting your eggs prematurely.
5. Regular screenings are highly important
Whether you are trying to conceive or plan to do so in the future, going for regular screenings is very important. Reproductive disorders like PCOS, endometriosis, tubal infections, fibroids, etc can be detected early with regular check-ups. It is always recommended to have screening exams with your fertility specialist.
6. Various fertility treatments
With the advancement in the healthcare sector, there is a lot of hope for infertile couples who cannot conceive naturally. They can explore infertility treatments such as reproductive surgeries, ovulation stimulation drugs, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women who wish to conceive at an older age can also freeze their eggs early to improve their chances of having a baby. There is no need to get disheartened if you are faced with infertility. Your fertility specialist will be able to provide you with the necessary support and guidance.