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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

When Is a Woman’s Fertility the Highest?

By Dr. Robert Wool


A woman’s fertility ebbs and flows across both her lifetime and her cycle, and can be impacted by a range of internal and external factors. Whether you are trying to become pregnant, or looking to avoid it, understanding what affects your fertility is important. When is your fertility the highest? We break down some highlights below.


Fertility across Your Lifetime

A woman has the ability to become pregnant as soon as she starts her menstrual cycle, which can range from age 10 through 15. In general, her overall fertility is at its highest between her late teens and late 20s.


Typically, fertility naturally begins to decline during a woman’s 30s, and by age 40, the chance of conceiving drops to about 10% per cycle. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s still possible to conceive until you are fully in menopause, which is defined as not having a period at all over 12 consecutive months.


Fertility across Your Cycle

Menstruation signals the start of a woman’s monthly cycle, which can vary in length from 21 to 31 days. The average period lasts from 3 to 7 days and is when fertility is at its lowest. While it’s possible to conceive at nearly any point, peak fertility typically occurs around mid-cycle, before and during ovulation.


Many women find it helpful to chart their cycles to help them predict their periods and determine their best chance of conceiving. You can do this on a calendar or there are apps you can download to help.


Signs of ovulation may include:

·         mild cramping in the lower abdomen (known as mittelschmerz)

·         vaginal discharge that is wetter, clearer and more slippery

·         a slight increase in basal body temperature

·         a higher libido (desire for sex)


If you are trying to conceive, you may find ovulation predictor kits, available over the counter at drugstores, are helpful in pinpointing the few days in your cycle when your fertility is highest.


Other Factors Affecting Fertility

Every woman is different, from the length of her cycle to her overall fertility. Factors that can negatively impact fertility include:

·         medical conditions, such as endometriosis, celiac disease, pelvic inflammatory disease and kidney disease

·         medications such as antipsychotics, anti-epilepsy drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and thyroid medications

·         lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity or being very underweight, excessive physical activity that causes periods to stop or become irregular, drug use, poor nutrition and stress


We Can Help

Whatever your goals, we can work with you on a personalized care plan. If pregnancy is your aim, we offer preconception counseling to help address any concerns or questions you have in advance. We can also help if you are trying to become pregnant without success, including testing, exams and fertility medications. If you want to prevent pregnancy, we can talk about birth control options to help you select one that works best for you. We’re here with the help you need when you need it.