Overview of female fertility

If you have difficulty conceiving a child, here are some facts you should know:

  • You are not alone. Fertility problems are more common than you think.
  • There are treatments. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in diagnostic procedures and treatment of reproductive problems.
  • The chances of successfully conceiving a child decrease with age. If you are in your thirties or are older and have difficulty conceiving a child, we recommend asking for help. The earlier you diagnose and treat infertility, the more likely you are to conceive.

Women are born with all the eggs they will have during their life. When a woman reaches puberty, she has about 450,000 eggs. At that time, your body begins to produce the hormones that cause the eggs to mature and release. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. At the beginning of each cycle, a group of follicles (most of them containing an egg) begin to grow and develop using Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Only one of these follicles reaches a dominant stage. The others follow a natural process of follicular atresia (they die).

During the second week of your cycle, the follicles produce estrogen that stimulates the brain to release luteinizing hormone (LH). Estrogen helps to thicken the uterine wall (endometrium). It also stimulates the cervix to produce fine, slippery mucus in which sperm can swim. Ovulation occurs when the rise of LH triggers the release of the ovum by the dominant follicle. At this stage of the process, the follicle is called corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces another hormone, progesterone, which prepares the uterus to receive the fertilized egg.

If the egg is not fertilized by a spermatozoon, or if the fertilized egg does not implant, the corpus luteum begins to shrink, the progesterone level decreases and the uterus begins to remove the membrane that was lining it. menstruation begins and the cycle begins again.