One of the most powerful tools for any patient, regardless of their medical situation, is knowledge. Gathering facts, and educating ourselves on a variety of things is empowering. Infertility is certainly one of those conditions in which patients want to know as much as possible.
Getting answers to our questions can often assist us with the emotional elements that arise as we go through the journey of attempting to achieve pregnancy. Whether you’re planning a visit to a fertility clinic, or just want more information about the subject, here are 8 things to know about fertility:
Timing is in fact, everything.
You may or may not already know how this works, but each month there is an egg maturing in one of the ovaries of a woman. Then, it makes its debut into the fallopian tube where it waits for roughly 24 hours to be fertilized by a sperm. If that egg gets fertilized, it moves onto the uterus and is implanted on the lining of the uterus. However, if it doesn’t get fertilized, it still travels to the uterus, but it disintegrates instead.
Effectively, this means you only have 24 hours to fertilize the egg onces it’s in the fallopian tube. The good news is your window to get pregnant is actually closer to six days, as sperm can survive up to five days once introduced into the female body. The trouble is though, that if pregnancy is not achieved in this time, another egg won’t be released until the next month. Have you ever wondered why women track their ovulation and menstruation? This brief window explains it - women want to have the best guess as to when they are most likely to be able to achieve pregnancy.
Irregular menstruation doesn’t mean you’re infertile.
Ovulation typically occurs two weeks before you start menstruating. This means a woman with a regular cycle can expect to be ovulating on day 14 of her 28 day cycle. Unfortunately, women with irregular cycles can sometimes assume that they are not fertile because they don’t know when their ovulation period is occurring. In reality, just because a woman has a regular cycle, doesn’t mean she is ovulating regularly. Regardless of whether your cycle is regular or not, if you’re struggling to get pregnant, you can discuss predictability tests for ovulation with a fertility clinic.
There is no magic calendar that assures pregnancy.
Although we can get close, there is no guarantee that a woman’s egg will be fertilized by a sperm during ovulation. A sperm simply might not take to the egg, even when the “perfect” conditions are available.
Your lifestyle choices can impact your chances of getting pregnant.
Although many aspects of fertility are outside of our control, there are a few things you can do to have better odds in achieving pregnancy. The first is to stop smoking because this can age your ovaries, or even diminish the number of available eggs. It’s also a good idea to maintain a healthy weight for your age and height.
In terms of exercise, Sheila Dugan, MD, told Fitness Magazine that women who are trying to get pregnant should exercise about 150 minutes weekly, or 30 minutes a day for five days each week. In that same article though, Robert Brzyski, MD, PhD, said, “If your cycle is irregular or you haven't conceived after a few months, cut back further on exercise.”
Make wise diet choices, limit your alcohol intake, and consider limiting your coffee habit too. Finally, if you’re engaging in sexual activity regularly, it’s in your best interest to be safe, and get tested for STDs and STIs regularly as well.
It might not be you, it could be your partner.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, "Male factors alone are the cause of infertility in 20% – 30% of couples and contribute to infertility in another 20% – 30% of couples. Overall, about one half of infertile couples have male factor causes.” You can learn more about male infertility here.
Age may or may not have anything to do with your fertility complications.
When a woman reaches her 30s, her fertility does decline. According to Your Fertility, “From age 35, the fertility decline speeds up. By age 40, fertility has fallen by half. At 30, the chance of conceiving each month is about 20%. At 40 it’s around 5%.” The good news is, even if you’re in your 30s or 40s, and trying to get pregnant, all hope is not lost. You may need the assistance of a fertility specialist, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever achieve pregnancy.
There are tests and treatments for a wide variety of fertility issues.
There are so many factors that contribute to your fertility, or infertility. Because of this, there are several assessments that can be performed by your fertility specialist to help you determine the cause of your struggles in getting pregnant. Once the cause is determined, your doctor can then discuss treatment options with you.
You don’t have to navigate the fertility waters alone.
The most important thing to know is that you are not alone on this journey. Infertility can be such an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a fertility clinic is like having an advocate on your side, working on your behalf to help you achieve pregnancy as easily as possible. Wherever you are on your journey, you can bring an assistant on board if you have questions or concerns about your ability to get pregnant.
To learn more about our services and working with the Center of Reproductive Medicine in Texas, click here.