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Your Reproductive Age The STRAW System

Your Reproductive Age – The STRAW System

Many couples have never heard of the STRAW system, or how it can help with conception. STRAW stands for the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop, and provides information on a number of reproductive stages in a women's life. The STRAW system has been developed by a number of organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

Early Reproductive Stage: Puberty to age 20:  In the early stage, your hormone levels are within the normal range, unless you have certain types of medical conditions, which can affect the estrogen in the body. You may have irregular periods, and not be fertile every month as your reproductive system might not always induce ovulation.

Middle Reproductive Stage: Age 20 to 38:  Your hormone levels will probably be functioning properly, although it is a good idea to test your baseline hormone levels around age 35. Fertility also begins to decrease at age 35, and if you do become pregnant your doctor will probably recommend fertility testing.  The first seven years of this stage are your most fertile, but fertility begins to decrease after that period.

Late Reproductive Stage: Age 38 to 42:  Hormone levels have changed, and although you probably still ovulate regularly, your follicles may be producing less estrogen. You might have vaginal dryness, more bladder or yeast infections than before, and mood swings. A lot of women in this stage start to experience their first hot flashes, and menopause can take place during this stage for some women.

Early Perimenopausal Stage: Age 42 to 46:  Your body is releasing less estrogen, as well as progesterone, which can lead to shorter menstrual cycles. They can become heavier as your uterus sheds its lining in less time. It is still possible to have a healthy pregnancy at this point, but you'll need more medical care than younger women.

Late Perimenopausal Stage: Age 46 to 50:  Ovulation becomes more irregular, or may stop altogether. Periods can become very irregular, and women who do conceive have a 50% chance of miscarriage.

Menopause: Over 50:  You are considered menopausal when you have not had a period for one year. You will likely experience menopause symptoms during this time: mood swings, hot flashes, and cold sweats. It is very unlikely that you could conceive naturally as you enter menopause. Even if you wanted to conceive, a lot of doctors would not recommend in vitro fertilization, as your chances of successful implantation are far lower.


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