An Overview of Fertility

There are things you can do to improve your fertility, increase the odds that youll conceive quickly, and reduce your risk of infertility. The more you know, the better. Fertility is not only a female heath issue. Both men and women can take steps to improve their fertility, and both men and women can experience infertility.

If youre facing infertility, you have a reason for hope. The vast majority of couples will be able to get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments, surgery, or lifestyle changes.

For those that dont conceive even with help, there are alternative options for family building or moving on with your life.

Fertility Basics: What Does it Take to Get Pregnant?

Heres a very brief overview of what needs to happen for a couple to conceive naturally.

Number one is to optimize the time you have sex. You want to have sexual intercourse during your fertile window.

The fertile window lasts between five and eight days, and it occurs just before ovulation. There is a misconception that ovulation occurs on day 14 of the menstrual cycle. The truth is that the day of ovulation varies from woman to woman. Some may ovulate as early as day 10, others as late as day 22.

You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex one to two days before you ovulate. Your odds of conceiving the day before ovulation are between 21 percent and 34 percent. Compare that to four days before ovulation, when your odds are between 8 percent and 17 percent.

For women trying to conceive, every month is split into two time periods: before ovulation, when youre trying to have sex before the egg is released, and after ovulation, when youre waiting to take a pregnancy test.

The time period between ovulation and your expected period is known as the two-week wait.

The ideal time to take a pregnancy test is one day after your period is due. For example, if your cycles are usually 30 days long, you will want to take a pregnancy test on day 31 or later.

Its better if you avoid taking tests before your period is due. If you take the test early, youre unlikely to get a positive result even if you are pregnant. Plus, it can increase your stress levels.

Youve likely spent time looking up early pregnancy symptoms online, trying to figure out if youre pregnant before pregnancy test day.

The truth is that you cant tell if youre pregnant just by how you feel. Sometimes, women feel pregnant when they arentand sometimes they dont feel pregnant when they are.

Research has found that some healthy lifestyle habits may lead to improved fertility or at least a reduced risk of infertility. Making lifestyle changes may or may not impact actual infertility, and it shouldnt be considered as equally effective as fertility treatments. You should consider both making lifestyle changes and getting medical care.

For example, if your fallopian tubes are blocked, your diet isnt going to help you conceive naturally. Diet may or may not improve your odds of fertility treatments working, but theres currently no research to prove this.

Some things you can do that may improve your fertility include:

Learn more about how you can boost fertility:

You should be concerned about your fertility if any of the following three apply to you:

You should contact your doctor if any of the above relates to your experience.

Also, if you are age 35 or older, then you should see your doctor if you dont get pregnant after six months. This is because your fertility is naturally declining more rapidly.

The most common signs and symptoms of a fertility problem are:

Not every person will experience symptoms or signs of a fertility problem, however. In fact, its common for a couple to only discover they have a fertility issue after they have tried to get pregnant unsuccessfully for a year. Many causes of infertility are silent and dont have obvious symptoms.

There are some things that may reduce your fertility that you have control over. For example, smoking reduces fertility in men and women, so quitting is advised (for this and, of course, many other reasons).

Other causes for reduced fertility are not within your control. For example, fertility goes down with age. While you might be able to try and have kids at a younger age, you really cant do anything to stop the age-related fertility decline.

Here are some causes of reduced fertility or infertility:

If youre a woman and are concerned that you might have a fertility problem, the first person you should speak to is your gynecologist. Men should see a urologist.

Its very important that you are both tested. Make sure your doctor orders a semen analysis for your partner and doesn't only test your fertility. Male infertility is either alone or together with female infertility the cause for why a couple cant get pregnant at least 40 percent of the time.

If youre feeling anxious about fertility testing, youre not alone. Try to remember that testing is the first step to getting help.

Depending on the results of your fertility testing, your doctor may try to treat you with low-tech fertility treatments (like Clomid), or your doctor may refer you directly to a reproductive endocrinologist.

A reproductive endocrinologist is one kind of fertility specialist. They usually work in a fertility clinic, together with other fertility technicians, doctors, and nurses. Once youre referred to a fertility clinic, further testing may be conducted.

Your fertility treatment options will depend on the cause of your infertility.

Some possibilities include...

Eighty to 90 percent of couples are treated with medications or surgery. IVF is not required for the majority of infertile couples.

The cost of fertility treatment varies and will also depend on your insurance coverage.

While Clomid treatment is relatively inexpensive (between $10 and $50 per cycle for the most basic treatment), an injectable cycle can cost a few thousand dollars, and an IVF treatment cycle costs $15,000, on average.

Fertility treatment can also be stressful. Its important that you reach out for support and take time for self-care.

Options besides fertility treatment include:

Not having your own biological children doesnt mean you cant be involved in the life of a child. While being around children may be painful during the early days of infertility, over time, some men and women find involvement with kids to be a healing experience.

When you dont get pregnant as quickly as you expected, its normal to experience stress. Research has found that women with infertility experience similar levels of psychological stress as those who face cancer, HIV, and chronic pain.

An Overview of Fertility

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