Worrying about fertility

trying-to-get-pregnant
fertility

#1

There has been a lot in the media this week about fertility - particularly the fact that women worry about their ability to get pregnant.

Health care professionals (me included) don’t help much - with our constant emphasis on the need to use contraception consistently and correctly to avoid the risk of unplanned pregnancy. This is obviously important but it sometimes means that people who are trying to become pregnant and don’t get pregnant immediately become concerned.

Claire Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service says ‘Sometimes in our haste to protect women from unplanned pregnancy and to ensure that they use protection at every encounter we don’t always explain well that, actually, it can take time to get pregnant even when you are trying’.

Claire has written a really interesting and useful article about this here: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/chlamydia-infertility-risk-contraception/

There have been useful discussions on this forum on whether contraceptive methods can affect your fertility after you stop them and we have discussed the evidence that they do not… @amyl raised some important issues about this here The mini pill advice

If you are concerned about your fertility in general - you are not alone. Data from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests that half of women are concerned about their fertility. You can see more here: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/freeze-eggs-young-women-fertility-ivf-a8821351.html

So what to do?

To be honest I am not sure.

If you are having a regular period then the chances are that you are ovulating regularly and that is clearly reassuring. Even if you don’t have regular periods you can still get pregnant. The problem is that the only way to find out if you can get pregnant is to try. There are so many different factors that affect fertility (in both women and men) that it is very difficult to predict what will happen until you do try.

But of course, there is not much point in trying until it is the right time for you and you actually want to be pregnant…

Claire Murphy says 'In a climate of anxiety and one where womanhood is still closely bound up with fertility, it is not unusual to see younger women who, when they haven’t become pregnant after an episode or two of unintended unprotected sex, become convinced they’re unable to conceive, or who worry staying too long on the pill will harm their fertility, come off it and get pregnant. Some women avoid using emergency contraception when they need it because of fears it can damage fertility. At the British Pregnancy Advisory Service we also see women who believed an episode of chlamydia left them infertile, and who experience unplanned pregnancy (and had an abortion) as a result.

This is a difficult issue.

What do others think?

Paula


#2

I took the combined pill for years…since i was about 17, for maybe 12 or 13 years, and came off it when my partner and I wanted kids, thinking it would take my body a while to ‘settle down’ or some vague sense like that. Well, I got pregnant the first week I came off the pill, sooner than we had a planned, and it was a shock to both of us. Sadly, we lost that pregnancy around 4 months in and we were devastated. When it came to trying to get pregnant again after that, I realised I didn’t have a clue about my body and my menstrual cycle - I had been so comfortable with the pill and that it was working for me, I didn’t really know the signs that tell me my body is at the different stages of my cycle (yes I knew the theory, but that’s not the same) and the sense of being in the dark, of not knowing whether ‘everything was OK’, wasn’t easy. It was a pretty steep learning curve (we have since had 3 healthy pregnancies and children). I have been off any kind of hormonal contraception for over 5 years now and I love that i know where I am in my cycle, just by how my body feels/what it does … I really know my body now and it feels quite powerful, if that makes sense. I know that there are so many factors contributing to whether a particular couple can have a baby, and it isn’t as simple as just feeling that you are ovulating and have regular periods etc, but I do think think, for me at least, once I got that knowledge it was a great reassurance. Hormonal contraception is so effective and gave me freedom from worry about unplanned pregnancy for years, but it is a downside that it stops you learning about your natural cycle. I found apps that help you track your cycles, where you note down/log various symptoms, really helped me learn about my own body, after I lost that first pregnancy. I think for women coming off the pill or other long term contraception and thinking about pregnancy they are a great resource. Some of the fitness wearables, like Fitbit and so on, are starting to add this feature into their apps; I think that is a really positive thing.


#3

Hello @Katrina

I’m really pleased to hear your story and especially like the idea that it is good to be aware of changes in your body. I was talking to some colleagues yesterday about women who find out that they are pregnant very late on in the pregnancy because they have not noticed the changes of pregnancy or they had fewer symptoms than other women. It made me think about how not being aware of your cycle can become a problem.

Many thanks

Paula