While planning a pregnancy, ovulation is often the most overlooked part, albeit its importance in conceiving a healthy baby. Medical experts across the globe reveal that a large number of women experience difficulty in conceiving due to a lack of knowledge about the impact of ovulation upon the reproductive cycle. According to Dr Gautam Allahbadia, a fertility specialist based in Dubai, women must know the following things about ovulation before they plan to conceive:
Your body doesn’t create new eggs every month
Women ovulate an egg each month. However, these eggs are not created by the body monthly. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and thus the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries decreases with time.
Aging decreases the genetic stability, leaving women over the age of 35 at a greater risk for experiencing miscarriage, infertility, or having a child with a genetic disease. However, according to Dr. Gautam Allahbadia, egg freezing can help preserve fertility for women.
“Women who want to delay parenting until after 35 often opt for cryogenic preservation of eggs. They freeze their eggs when they are in their 20s, in hopes of using their younger, healthier eggs later in life,” quips Dr Allahbadia, who also heads the IVF team at Millennium Medical Center (MMC) IVF Dubai.
Your overall health affects ovulation months before you conceive
You may not produce new eggs each month, but these eggs do mature into ovulation-ready eggs over several weeks before they are released. Your lifestyle before and during this maturation period can make a big difference in the health of those eggs.
Diet during preconception can affect your fertility and your not-yet-conceived baby’s health. One nutrient that must be present before conception is folic acid, suggests Dr. Gautam Allahbadia. Low folic acid levels can lead to problems with fertility, a higher risk of miscarriage, and birth defects.
Another major fertility health risk remains cigarette smoking, which not only lowers your fertility but also increases the rate at which the eggs in your ovaries age. Being a passive smoker can also have a negative impact on your fertility and your future baby’s health.
Menstruation is not equivalent to ovulation
Some women believe that they are ovulating if they are menstruating. This, however, is just a misconception.
Women who experience irregular ovulation may have irregular cycles, lighter or shorter than usual periods, or unusually heavy periods. They may also go months without getting their period. On the other hand, it is also possible for women having regular periods to not be ovulating.
“Just because you get a period doesn’t necessarily mean your ovulation or your fertility is normal as well. In case your cycles are irregular, you must speak to your doctor before you start planning a pregnancy,” suggests Dr Gautam Allahbadia, IVF specialist from Mumbai.
Ovulation doesn’t guarantee a pregnancy
Healthy ovulation is crucial to a healthy pregnancy. However, it takes more than a ready egg to conceive.
“For a successful pregnancy, sperm must be able to reach the egg, meaning that the fallopian tubes must be clear and healthy. Also, the fertilized embryo needs a place to implant and develop, so the uterine environment must also be fertility-friendly,” explains Dr. Gautam Allahbadia.
The Dubai-based IVF consultant adds, “You also need healthy sperm to conceive. About one-third of couples experiencing infertility discover male infertility as the cause. In other cases, both male and female fertility problems might be causing trouble.”
A woman may have very regular cycles, but if she’s in her 40s already, those eggs may be less than ideal for conception. Your ability to conceive ends much before you actually hit menopause.
Ovulation is an important aspect of a woman’s reproductive cycle. Prior planning and due diligence are needed for a pregnancy to be successful. It is advisable to contact your doctor prior to trying for a baby to ensure you and your child’s health.