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What If You Want to Get Pregnant?

Menopause is roughly defined as the life stage in which the menstrual cycle is absent for a period of 12 months, signaling the end of a woman's fertility. Under that definition, it might sound like a menopausal woman is no longer capable of getting pregnant. That isn't necessarily true. While the added chance of pregnancy can be startling for some women, for others, it can be a blessing, considering that natural menopause can start for a woman as early in her 30s.

Perimenopausal and Menopausal Fertility
Some women who are in perimenopause make the mistake of believing that they have entered menopause. This is understandable, considering that the two are closely related and share many of the same symptoms. HFN 080 WhatIfYouWanttoGetPregnant F1616492The actuality, however, is that perimenopausal women, and even women who are in the early stages of menopause, are still capable of getting pregnant. While it's true that irregular periods are often a sign of perimenopause or menopause, it's also true that ovulation doesn't immediately end at this time. In fact, it's a process that can take a considerable amount of time.

The age in which a woman enters menopause varies from woman to woman, but the average age is 51. (See HFN's Menopause, Your Mom, and You).) At this time, the ovaries begin to release eggs at a slower rate, gradually slowing down until they cease the release completely. The fact that a woman's eggs start to degrade slightly by the time she reaches her early 30s makes pregnancy during this later time seem even more unlikely, although still possible.

Perimenopause and Conception
If you are a woman experiencing perimenopause but still wish to become pregnant, there are steps you can take that will increase the likelihood of conception. The first step is to watch what you eat. Trans fats, refined sugars, and processed foods are bad for fertility and should be substituted for fresh fruits and vegetables. Implementing a healthy diet will likely increase the chances of pregnancy.

Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol should also be avoided, as they have a negative effect on ovarian function and also on the fetus if you are already pregnant. ♀

Visit Your Doctor
If you're experiencing perimenopause or menopause and would like to become pregnant, chat with your doctor to see what options are available and how he or she can help you. A doctor can provide insight and instruction on the safest steps, for both the mother and baby, to go about the process.

For example, a doctor will likely highly recommend prenatal vitamins for female patients because such vitamins contain folic acid, which helps to promote healthy development of the fetus and prevent certain birth defects. Taking prenatal vitamins is also highly recommended by the FDA for women who are attempting to conceive.

In situations where conception is proving to be quite difficult, a doctor can also help you decide if options like fertility drugs are right for you. ♀

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