Just because you’re menstruating doesn’t mean you’re fertile

Many women believe that they are fertile because they are having periods each month. However, just because a woman is menstruating, doesn’t necessarily mean that she will be able to conceive and/or carry a child to term.

Women who menstruate don’t always ovulate. For example, a woman taking the birth control pill (or other hormonal forms of contraception) has regular periods, but the hormones in these contraceptives suppress ovulation, meaning that her ovaries do not release eggs even though she is having periods. Similarly, some women who are not using contraceptives continue to have periods, but don’t ovulate. This is called an “anovulatory” menstrual cycle – and is one of the most common and easily treated fertility problems. In addition, irregular periods make it more difficult for women to track their fertile days, and can also be a sign that ovulation isn’t occurring.

In addition, a woman having regular menstrual cycles may still have underlying issues that can affect her fertility, such as endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), structural issues (e.g., tilted uterus), and blocked fallopian tubes.

Also, the quality of a woman’s eggs is an important factor for fertilization. Even if a woman has regular menstrual cycles, conception will be more difficult if the quality of the eggs released during her menstrual cycles is poor. There are several things that can affect egg quality – one of the most common being age. Egg quality decreases as women age, and a woman’s eggs are as old as she is! So the older a woman is, the greater the likelihood that the quality of her eggs won’t be as good.

For more information about the menstrual cycle and ovulation, click here.

For more information about egg quality, refer to our sections on Fertility History and Life Span, and Third Party Options.


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