Fertility: Symptoms, Causes, Risks Factors, Treatments and More

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What Is Fertility?

Fertility is defined as the natural ability to produce* live offspring that will also be able to reproduce. In humans, this means the ability to have children. If a woman’s fertility is low, the use of in vitro fertilization or fertility drugs can improve* her chances of conception.

How is Aging and Fertility Related?

Fertility

During the perimenopause years, a woman’s fertility starts to decline steadily. A research study reporting on how age and fertility were related shows that the older women get, the lower their fertility. This research indicated that by the age of 35, infertility in women became more pronounced. 30% of the research respondents (none of whom were using any kind of contraceptive) between the ages of 35 and 39 failed to fall pregnant. The percentage increased to 64% for women aged between 40 and 44.

Symptoms of Irritability

There are various symptoms of irritability which affect women during menopause. These symptoms are briefly described below.

Menopausal Irritability Headaches:

Menopause irritability, a condition that makes a woman more sensitive than usual to external stimuli, can lead to headaches. These headaches can occur a few times a month in some women, while others experience them on a more frequent basis. The mild to moderate pain from the headache is usually felt behind the eyes, in the forehead area and in the neck.

Muscular Tension:

A woman who is highly irritable during menopause can be affected by muscular tension. Muscular tension usually occurs as a result of the anxiety over the unpredictable nature of the irritability.

Frustration:

Being highly irritable during menopause can lead to frustration. This is because the high level of irritability is usually out of character for the woman. During the years when she had premenstrual syndrome (PMS), she may have been irritable at certain times of the month. But the symptoms of menopause are more intense and frequent than during PMS.

Reduced* Patience:

During menopause, a woman has less* patience than normal. She responds and reacts to people and situations with impatience, and tends to be highly irritable as a result.

Increased Stress:

A woman’s stress levels during menopause can increase* because she is unable to control* her irritability. She may also be stressed as a result of her failure to control* the external stimuli that causes her to be overly sensitive to her environment.

Angry Outbursts:

When a menopausal woman is highly irritated, this can lead to angry outbursts directed at the person or situation responsible to causing the irritation.

Mood Swings:

Mood swings occur when a menopausal woman’s moods shift suddenly and often. She can move from happy to sad and weepy, or peaceful to angry outbursts in an instant.

Insomnia:

Insomnia is a condition where a menopausal woman finds it difficult to either fall asleep when she first gets into bed, or go back to sleep if she awakens during the night. This can lead to irritation, which makes it even more difficult for her to fall asleep.

Isolation:

A menopausal woman may at times feel isolated if she does not have ample support* from family and friends. If none of the people in her support* system understand what she is going through, she may feel that she is the only one experiencing these crippling menopausal symptoms.

Annoyance:

Annoyance is a symptom of irritability because it indicates that a menopausal woman is displeased, troubled or bothered by someone or something in her environment.

Jaw Clenching:

Jaw clenching indicates that a person is anxious, irritated or upset. This symptom usually occurs when the individual in question is unable to control* the situation, and the source of irritation continues.

Causes of Irritability

During menopause, irritability is caused by the hormonal imbalance in a woman’s body. These hormones – estrogen and progesterone are not produced at optimum levels needed by the body. Instead, they fluctuate, thereby leading to an imbalance in the ratios and levels of the hormones in a woman’s body.

Clarifying Fertility and Menopause

Fertility usually begins to diminish* around the perimenopause period. For some women, however, the ovaries still release an egg. It is therefore important for a menopausal woman to take contraception until she has gone for at least 12 months without her menstrual period. Even at that time, she should first seek the advice of a medical practitioner to ensure that she has reached menopause.

How Menopause Affects Fertility?

A woman reaches menopause when she does not have a menstrual period for at least 12 months. The time prior to this is referred to as perimenopause. During perimenopause, a woman’s reproductive eggs have declined from about 2 million to just 100 eggs. Furthermore, the quality of these eggs also declines. A woman’s uterine walls also go through changes which make it difficult to fall pregnant. Once a woman reaches menopause, her body does not have any eggs at all, hence she cannot fall pregnant. Interestingly, a recent research study in the US indicates that women who are aged 25 are 6 times more likely to conceive than those aged 35.

Why Does Menopause End Fertility?

Menopause brings fertility to an end because this indicates the end of the menstrual cycle. When the menstrual cycle comes to an end, then the body is not producing* the hormones which aid* fertility, the ovarian eggs have been depleted, and the uterus has changed and is unable to hold a foetus to full term.

Early Menopause and Fertility

Early menopause can occur from about the age of 30. This happens when a woman begins having irregular periods and other menopause symptoms during her child-bearing years. Early menopause has become more prevalent now than it was a few decades ago. When a woman reaches early menopause, she should still take contraceptive precautions to avoid falling pregnant. This is because the body may still be fertile (although this slowly diminishes* with the onset of perimenopause).

How Perimenopause Impacts Fertility?

During perimenopause, a woman’s fertility begins to diminish*. Her body’s ability for natural fertilisation of the egg falls significantly. Many women who are trying to fall pregnant during the perimenopause age opt for artificial fertility methods.

Fertility During Perimenopause – Can You Get Pregnant?

Even though her ability to fall pregnant diminishes* during perimenopause, a woman can still fall pregnant. She has fewer ovarian eggs whose quality has also dropped significantly, but her reproductive hormones are still functioning.

Risks Factors With Irritability

Irritability during menopause can lead to several risks. A woman experiencing severe irritability is likely to affect and compromise her personal and professional relations. This irritability may also lead to other emotional symptoms of menopause, giving the woman a lower quality of life.

Diagnosis

In order to diagnose infertility, a medical practitioner has to perform several tests to determine if any of the fertilisation processes have been impaired. These tests include:

  • Ovulation testing, which tests whether a woman is ovulating
  • Hysterosalpingography, which checks the state of the fallopian tubes and the uterus
  • Ovarian reserve testing, which checks the number and quality of the eggs
  • Hormone testing, which tests the levels of the hormones that control* menstrual and reproductive processes

Menopause and Fertility Treatments

In order to treat* fertility during menopause, a woman may opt for natural treatments like red clover, angelica root, hogweed or licorice root. Other methods include in vitro fertilisation, using an egg donor, or fertility preservation.

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Author

Expert Author : Lisiana Carter (Consumer Health Digest)

Lisiana Carter has been a freelance health writer for over ten years having written books, blogs and articles. She is the author of a number of websites and teaches people how to enter the freelance writing field.