Today I’ll be writing about a sensitive topic which probably hasn’t been discussed much. We all talk about how our pregnancies are progressing and happening during and post delivery. But there are so many issues we ladies face much before any of these. PCOD, Thyroid and Ovary removal are some of the issues a lot of us face but probably don’t talk about too much. These topics are considered taboo and and many of us ladies are told to shut up and keep it to themselves which doesn’t help at all. It causes nothing but worry, more doubts and loads of anxiety all of which isn’t even required.
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I’d like to begin with 2 instances right off which triggered this post…
A couple of months back, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a huge cyst in her ovary. She’d been trying to conceive since 6mts with no success. She’d been having her period regularly and she experienced no pain at all. She had no idea the cyst even existed. The doctor had to operate and during the procedure found out that the cyst had become so big that it had enveloped and infected the entire left ovary. The doctor had to remove the left ovary and my friend was so disappointed when she came to know. Her first questions were to whether she’d be able to conceive or whether she’d have to go for IVF. The doctor was extremely patient and explained that even though one ovary was absent it probably hadn’t been functioning for a long time due to the cyst. It was the right ovary which was working and she also explained that it was totally possible to get pregnant with only one ovary. The main thing was that the fallopian tubes and the ovulation should be normal. She was also told to wait for 6mts before trying so that the scarring could heal. Fingers crossed she should be able to conceive without any problems.
Another friend was told a couple of months back that she had PCOS in one ovary only. Apparently, that ovary doesn’t function although the other ovary is perfectly fine. She too was very apprehensive about conceiving and was even all set for IVF, but the doctor just sent her home with a prescription for Folic acid and some relaxation. And well, what can I say?? A month later she conceived!
I feel this post is really necessary simply because most of us are so unaware of our own bodies. Before I started visiting the gynac, I didn’t even know there were so many nuances to getting pregnant. It always seemed so simple. After all, women all around get pregnant everyday and so many without even trying! I assumed it would be the same for me. It took me a lot of time to digest that with changing lifestyles, our bodies have also changed and that these days a larger number of us face such challenges. And every bit of information helps. So here goes..
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Key points to remember
In order to conceive, women must have at least one functioning ovary. Each month, the ovary releases a single egg into the fallopian tubes in a process called ovulation. Whether women have one or two ovaries, women who ovulate can potentially get pregnant. Once an egg is fertilized by sperm, the fertilized egg travels via the fallopian tubes to the uterus, where it implants and remains until it is time to give birth. In the case of two healthy ovaries, the ovaries alternate in releasing an egg, albeit not in any predictable pattern.
So at the end of the day, what you need is atleast 1 ovary and your tubes to work fine. Also, regular menses in another indication that your body is functioning properly. Ofcourse, here I’m referring to menses without the aid of birth control pills. My personal suggestion is to stay away from birth control pills when you’re in your 20s. At times, they do more harm than good. Incases where periods are still irregular, your gynac can prescribe a stimulant which is ideally taken for 5days after the 15th or 20th day of your last cycle. You pop these pills and a week after completing your dose you can expect your period anytime. This is just simpler because it doesn’t muck with your hormones as much as BCPs do and they don’t result in weight gain either (I suffered from a lot of weight gain when I took BCPs in my teens).
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Usually, an egg is released into the fallopian adjacent to that ovary – in other words, to the fallopian tube that is on the same side of the ovary from where the egg drops. For women who have only one ovary and and/or one fallopian tube, the chances of becoming pregnant are greatest when these are located next to each other.
However the chances that an egg released from one ovary will reach the fallopian tube on the opposite side are very slim, and thus the odds of getting pregnant in this case are very low. Similarly, women with a single ovary and a single fallopian tube on opposite sides are at risk for an ectopic pregnancy, also known as a tubal pregnancy. In a tubal pregnancy, instead of implanting in the uterus, the fertilized egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes where it cannot survive. Ectopic pregnancies can ultimately be life-threatening for the mother and cause damage to a woman’s reproductive organs.
When to visit the doctor
If women with a single ovary have tried unsuccessfully to conceive for a period of one year to 15 months, they are advised to seek advice from a fertility expert and to consider fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4