Women and their bodies may have very different ideas about the right time to have a baby.

It’s an uncomfortable topic — especially when someone’s not ready to even imagine becoming a parent. Fertility is not going to get any less difficult to talk about, so why not do it now? This is a case where sooner is better than later.

Windows of opportunity

Everybody’s situation and time frame are different. Perhaps a woman hasn’t found the right partner yet. Or she wants to grow into her career and make her mark first. Maybe she needs to focus on herself and her well-being. And since she knows several women who became mothers later in life, it’s easy to feel she has all the time in the world.

Women’s bodies, however, aren’t all the same, and there’s no way to guess at personal windows of fertility. While all people deserve to follow their own paths and decide for themselves if and when to have children, it helps to plan ahead. Here’s how women can take control of their future fertility.

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to difficulties conceiving. One of the most common is the age-related decline in the number and quality of egg cells in a woman’s ovaries. Baby girls are born with all the eggs they will ever have, about two million. What differs from person to person is how quickly this ovarian reserve ‘ages’ and begins to diminish.

A simple blood test looking for a biomarker known as the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) can be taken at any time. The AMH test allows the doctor to estimate how many eggs are left, leading to a recommendation about the path forward for the patient.

Doing her future self a favour

What can women do with this data? Just like any other goal, starting a family takes time, effort and planning. Having as much information as possible helps women make decisions that are right for them.

For instance, reacting now instead of when fertility problems arise buys time. Early intervention means taking action while there’s still a sufficient ovarian reserve. More time allows women to look into additional diagnostic testing, treatment options or available next steps.

Finding out about fertility potential can be reassuring. It may even allow women to delay that conversation until they’re ready.

It’s one of those things — no one knows how hard it is until it happens to them. That’s why it’s better to start thinking about fertility now. Women who muse “maybe, one day” should bring the subject up with their doctors. Preparing for different possibilities gives women— even those who don’t know what they want — the freedom to narrate how the stories of their lives go. With knowledge comes empowerment and, as long as people make informed decisions, they can take charge of their lives and do what is right for them.

Each woman has a story. She should choose how to tell it.

Tags: Patients, Women's Health