How common is infertility?
Infertility is a growing issue for couples
- In the UK approximately 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving
- Infertility affects approximately 10% of American couples of childbearing age
How long should a couple try to conceive before going to the doctor?
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that a woman consult her health care provider if she is:
- under 35 years old and has been trying to conceive for more than 12 months, or
- Over 35 years old and has been trying to conceive for over 6 months.
Can you find out if you have fertility issues even if you don’t want to get pregnant right now?
Yes, you can have a fertility check at any time. Ask your doctor to do basic blood tests covering the fertility hormones. Also getting your Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) tested gives women a good indication of their ovarian reserve. A semen analysis test can be carried out for men also. You will then be in a position to decide if you need to do something about your fertility soon rather than later.
When is a woman’s most fertile time?
A woman’s most fertile time is during ovulation. This will depend on the length of a woman’s cycle. Ovulation typically occurs within day 11 through day 21 of a woman’s cycle.
How do I know when I’m ovulating?
The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) takes into account 3 main indicators when trying to pinpoint ovulation
- Cervical mucus changes
As you approach ovulation, your increasing mucus will change from sticky to wet, and will become creamier. Directly prior to ovulation, cervical fluid will increase greatly and will be semi-transparent, slippery, with the consistency of ‘raw egg white’.
- Changes in the cervix
The position of a woman’s cervix changes over the course of her menstrual cycle. Typically, during and in the first few days after menstruation, the cervix is fairly low and firm and feels like the tip of your nose. When the wet cervical fluid begins to show, the cervix begins to move up, become softer, wetter, and more open. During ovulation, the cervix is at its highest and most open. After ovulation, the cervix returns to the firm, low, and closed position.
- Basal body temperature (BBT).
Basal body temperature is the body temperature measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken. In women, ovulation causes an increase of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius) in BBT. The temperature increase is driven by the hormone progesterone, which increases when you ovulate.
How long can an egg / sperm survive
A woman’s egg can only live up to 24 hours. Two or more eggs may be released in a 24 hour period. A woman is only fertile for about a day or two. A man’s sperm can live up to 5 days, so the between the two the fertile window can be up to a week in total.
What about fertility treatments?
There have been huge advance in Fertility Treatments over the last decade and there are more options available now when trying to get pregnant.
- Ultrasounds for follicle tracking, Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to check the fallopian tubes, Hysteroscopy to check the uterus
- Donor Conception including donor eggs, sperm or donor embryo
- Fertility Awareness / Cycle Monitoring can greatly assist some couples in getting pregnant.
What should I eat if I am trying to conceive
Remember “You are what you eat”; the aim of your diet is to obtain a hormone balancing diet. This includes
- Reducing the amount of starch, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed and refined foods.
- Increase the amount of clean water
- Increase the intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables that are high in phytonutrients, and have been shown to help to balance hormones.
- Increase the amount of fibre, this aids digestion and the excretion of old hormones from the body
Do not embark on any course of supplement or vitamins before consulting a doctor or qualified nutritionist to determine if your body needs them, you may do more harm than good.
Does drinking or smoking affect my chances of getting pregnant
Recent studies have shown that drinking alcohol and smoking can affect your chances of conceiving. Alcohol consumption by men can increase the chances of miscarriage, similar studies have linked excessive smoking in men to miscarriages. Eliminate smoking and drinking from your diet when trying to conceive.
I’m having trouble getting pregnant – where should I go for help?
The first port of call for many people is their doctor; your doctor can carry out basic bloods test. Depending on the results of initial tests your doctor may refer you for further specialist tests or to a fertility clinic.
It is very important that you have as much information as possible. Track and monitor your cycle, know when you stopped using birth control, know you medical history and information you think is important.
I’ve been struggling with infertility. What can I do to help?
The effects of infertility are not to be underestimated. Research by Alice Domar has shown that infertile women were every bit as depressed as those who were confronting illness that could kill them.
You need to find a way to deal with the emotional side on infertility. Find a support group, if there is not one in your locality there are many on line chat rooms and forums that can provide information and support. Seek the help of a professional if you feel it’s all getting too much for you.