What is for Fertility?
Having a baby is a pivotal and life-changing event in one’s life – for both women and men. While some couples seem to become pregnant at the ‘drop of a hat’, for others the quest to bring new life into the world can be less than easy (to say the least!).
Many factors can contribute to the delicate issue of conception, and while some couples prefer to leave creation up to fate, others may start on a long and arduous journey that will see them tackle a variety of factors and ‘roadblocks’ to conception while trying a multitude of different fertility treatments.
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, there are certain fertility and pregnancy problems that you need to be aware of. Fertility is the term used to describe the natural ability of a man and woman to conceive and bring forth new life. In order to be able to conceive, the reproductive system of each party must function effectively.
Fertility in Women
Fertility in women refers to the ability to become pregnant and have a baby. A woman’s monthly menstrual cycle reflects her ability to conceive. Menstrual cycles usually start during puberty, around the age of 13, and begin to taper off at about 45 years old. It is however, possible to still become pregnant before your first period right up until the end of menopause around the age of 50 years old.
Women are born with about 400,000 immature eggs stored in the ovaries. When she reaches puberty and enters her reproductive years, her monthly menstrual cycle begins. The cycle begins on the first day of a woman's period and typically lasts about 28 days. The first day begins not when she is spotting, but when she experiences regular flow. By this time, only about 300 of these eggs will mature and be released.
During each cycle, the ovary releases one egg (or, less commonly, more than one), which may go on to be fertilized by a man's sperm cell forming the embryo. The development and release of the egg each month depends on an intricate balance of hormones: chemicals that signal the body's organs to do specific jobs. Some of these hormones are produced in the ovaries.
Others come from two glands in the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The hormones she needs for menstruation and to become pregnant are produced by her hypothalamus, pituitary, and ovaries. Because every step in the monthly cycle is controlled by hormones, the correct amounts of these hormones have to be produced at the right times to make it possible for a woman to conceive.
Fertility in Men
In men, fertility refers to the ability to impregnate a woman. An important part of male fertility involves the creation of normal, mature sperm. Sperm are produced in the testes and travel through the epididymis where they are stored and nourished. From there, they travel through the ejaculatory duct known as the vas deferens and further stored in the seminal vesicles.
When sexual arousal and stimulation reaches a climax, it causes contractions in the muscles within the penis, urethra and prostate gland. This results in semen been propelled through the urethra and out of the tip of penis. If the sperm are healthy and travel through a woman’s cervix and uterus into her fallopian tubes, one sperm may fertilize the egg. Men continue to produce sperm irrespective of their age.