You went to college. Then to grad school. You interned, externed, and spent so much time being a girlboss that you kind of forgot to plan for your future children. Maybe you never really thought about it, or maybe you just assumed you’d always have plenty of time. But now that you’re in a long-haul relationship or are longing for the sound of tiny feet, babies are on your brain. All the time. Even though you may have spent your entire adult life avoiding it, now you’re all about getting pregnant. Unfortunately, it may not be quite as easy as you thought. Before you jump in, check out the essential fertility facts you need to know.

A woman talks to her doctor

1. You need your eggs. Without an egg, you can’t get pregnant, and the older you get, the fewer you have left. Along with having fewer eggs, the older a woman is, the less able her ovaries are to release them, and the less healthy they are. And eggs that aren’t exactly in tip-top shape can make getting pregnant more difficult — an egg that isn’t genetically on-point isn’t likely to fertilize or implant correctly.

2. Fertility declines with age. As the proverbial biological clock tick, tick, ticks away, your ability to easily conceive may go downhill. One study that looked at the reproductive habits of 782 healthy couples found that the probabilities of getting pregnant started declining for women in their late 20s.

3. Egg counts allow for early planning. There are a few tests that can help you to assess how many eggs are hanging out in your ovaries. An antral follicle count uses ultrasound to count visible egg follicles, according to the reproductive pros at Extend Fertility. An AMH test can also measure the levels of the protein hormone that’s made by cells inside of the eggs. The higher the AMH level in your blood, the more follicles you likely have.

A woman consoles her friend in a cafe

4. You aren’t alone. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it might seem like absolutely everyone is having babies — but they aren’t. The CDC notes that more than 12 percent of women have some sort of problem getting or staying pregnant. That works out to roughly 7.3 million women ages 15 through 44 in the US alone.

5. Lifestyle is an issue too. Your eggs aren’t the only factor when it comes to your fertility. Sure, they’re mega-important, but other considerations — such as stress, poor diet, excessive alcohol use, smoking, and your weight (either overweight or underweight) — can cause problems. Be prepared to confront and address other issues if you want to get serious about pregnancy.

6. Assumptions aren’t your friend. This is a pretty key piece of advice in any area. But when it comes to getting pregnant, you really can’t just guess about your fertility. Just because you get a regular period and you’re young doesn’t necessarily mean your eggs are A-okay. Not every 25-year-old is stocked with amazing eggs, and not every 40-year-old’s ovaries are growing cobwebs. Instead of assuming, see a medical professional. (Dr. Google doesn’t count.)

7. There are options. Don’t get down just because you’re over the egg hill. It happens — and so do babies. Impaired fertility doesn’t equal “abandon all hope.” Talk to your doc about getting to the root of your fertility issues. There may be ways to work around whatever is going on. Keep in mind that families happen in all kinds of different ways, and there’s no one “right” way to get to motherhood.

What do you think about fertility testing before there’s a problem? Share your thoughts with us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)