Riverview Physicians for Women

Call us directly: 804.524.0890

439 Jennick Drive, Colonial Heights, Virginia 23834 View Location

The Reproductive Years

The reproductive years are those between adolescence and menopause when a woman can become pregnant. Generally these are stable years when most women's menstrual cycles are regular and they are busy with family and career.

This is also the time in a woman's life when she is planning a family. An excellent resource for accurate, pertinent, helpful information before, during and after pregnancy is (in addition to your friendly, knowledgeable obstetrician) the March Of Dimes.

Some women delay pregnancy for a variety of reasons. It is important to realize that fertility decreases starting in the late 20's-early 30's with even more decrease after age 35. Infertility was defined as a couple being unable to conceive after a year of trying (having frequent intercourse without any contraception). This has now been modified depending on the age of the couple, history of pelvic infections or endometriosis or irregular periods.

As was mentioned earlier, couples in their 20's are more fertile than couples in their 30's who are more fertile than couples in their 40's. Most gynecologists feel that couples in their 20's without risk factors for infertility do not need to undergo infertility evaluation unless they have not conceived after 2 years of trying. On the other hand, couples in their 30's should make a pre conceptual appointment to see if there are any risks for infertility, other than age, which should be investigated immediately and should definitely be evaluated after 6 months of attempting to conceive. It is also important to realize the risk of birth defects increases with age.

Age is only one factor that can reduce a woman's ability to get pregnant. A history of sexually transmitted disease (especially gonorrhea and chlamydia), pelvic inflammatory disease, birth defects involving the urinary tract, infrequent or very irregular periods, chemotherapy and pelvic radiation are just some of the other factors, which can cause or increase one's risk of female infertility.

In view of the proceeding, we encourage our patients to share with us any concerns they have about their ability to conceive, at any time.

These are also the years when several gynecological problems may occur such as heavy, painful periods caused by fibroids, worsening endometriosis or adenomyosis. Often, problems are diagnosed at a patient's yearly examination when pro-active management can prevent a more serious problem or have a simpler "fix" than what would be necessary if the condition had progressed without our knowledge and intervention. Relatively simple procedures, such as laparoscopy or Novasure® and Thermachoice® can be employed when pathology is discovered early. This is also the time in a woman's life when contraceptive options should be reviewed annually so that age and lifestyle appropriate contraception can be discussed and implemented. These are but a few of the many reasons why you should see your gynecologist* for your annual, gynecologic exam.

*While your family physician may offer to perform your annual gynecologic examination, it is worth knowing that she or he had a 3 year residency with training in general family practice while a obstetrician-gynecologist had 4 years training only in obstetrics and gynecology. Virtually all insurance plans allow patients to see an Ob-Gyn without a referral because they realize the importance of a specialist performing this important and unique history and examination.