We spend the vast majority of our reproductive years trying desperately NOT to get pregnant. This is rooted in our health and sex education classes in grade school, which scare us into thinking that even looking at someone can get you pregnant.
As we grow older, a continued lack of information, combined with a societal silence around this topic, does not help us gain any more information about our reproductive health and fertility. To further confound the issue, we feel we are doing our due diligence by going to our annual check up with our OB/GYN: but unfortunately for the vast majority, the only topics discussed in those check ups are acute issues, breast exams, pap smears, and birth control.
As a doctor, woman, and mother, and the Founding Physician of Kindbody, it is my mission to set the record straight. Here are some basic facts I want to share and I think are vital for everyone to know:
- Biological women are born with all the eggs we will ever have – there is no way to make more eggs.
- We lose up to a 1000 eggs per month starting from our very first period.
- Twenty percent of biological women under the age of 35 have a premature decline in fertility.
- There are no physical symptoms for declining egg count and quality.
- A pap smear is only a screening test for cervical cancer and HPV ( human papilloma virus). A pap smear does NOT give any other information about your reproductive health or fertility.
- A biological woman is only fertile for around 5 days each month.
- A healthy, young, fertile couple only has a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month.
- Up to 40% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, the most common reason for miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus.
The take home message is that getting pregnant and staying pregnant can be difficult for many. So what can we do about this? We can spread educate about the realities of our bodies, our health, and our fertility.
I firmly believe that you are never too young or too old to learn more about your body and your options. Whether you are actively trying to conceive today, or you want to delay starting a family for another 10 years. We owe it to each other to start an honest and robust conversation about reproductive health and fertility.
The more we talk about our periods, pregnancies, and our miscarriages, the less scary the topic becomes. It’s time for us to share stories about infertility and miscarriage with each other. We have the power to shed light on this topic. We have the power to help those have experienced a miscarriage and are feeling ashamed, and feeling as if their body failed them, understand this important message: you are NOT alone.
My personal recommendation is to ask your OB/GYN about your fertility, or to talk to the specialists at Kindbody, where we have both gynecologists and fertility specialists ready to arm you with the facts.
It’s important to be armed with the knowledge that any individual born with a vagina, regardless of age, can have their fertility tested with a simple blood test ( AMH: anti-mullerian hormone) and special pelvic ultrasound (AFC: antral follicle count).
Lastly, I encourage all of you to ask questions! Don’t accept “Oh you are young, don’t worry about it” as an answer. Don’t feel silly or embarrassed to ask for more. And don’t be afraid. Getting informed about your own health and body is a basic human right. And I think you will find that knowledge really is power.