If you are thinking about receiving treatment for infertility, you most likely have a lot of questions. You have probably been attempting to get pregnant the traditional way for some time and there are new elements that will be added to the process once treatment begins. In order to plan the optimal time to begin treatment, as much information about your menstruation cycle as possible must be gathered. The actual time of when your body will produce the eggs that can be retrieved and fertilized, to then be put back in and accepted by your uterus, will all be based on the time of your ovulation.
Prior to that, an infertility doctor will want to start you on hormones to initiate the entire process and get your body properly prepared. Speaking to an infertility doctor will give you a clearer picture of what a normal timetable will look like. For now, here is a basic idea of the role that time plays when it comes to the standard infertility treatment process.
The Fertile Window
Pregnancy can only be achieved during the five days before and the day of ovulation. These 6 days are what is referred to as the ‘fertile window’. Since sperm will only live for 5 days and the ovum can only live for 1, the whole process must be carefully planned. Once the fertile window has ended, pregnancy is not achievable. To determine when your fertile window is, your periods will have to be tracked.
When Ovulation Occurs
In order to figure out when you are ovulating you must know your typical menstruation cycle. Your cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends on the day before your next period begins. Ovulation generally occurs 2 weeks before the next period. Your most fertile days are the 3 days leading up to and the day of ovulation.
- If you have 28 days between each period, ovulation will most likely occur on day 14. This means your most fertile days would be 12, 13, and 14.
- If your cycles are longer, say 35 days, ovulation will be on day 21 and you will be most fertile on day 19, 20, and 21.
Signs That You Are Ovulating
Most women show little to no signs when they are ovulating. The best way to get an accurate assessment is to observe when your period begins and ends for a few months and make notes on a chart. These notes may include:
- changes in your mucus; mucus may appear clear, slick, and slippery during ovulation.
- recording your basal body temperature each day before getting out of bed. You can get a special thermometer for this. Once ovulation has occurred your basal body temperature will rise about half a degree celsius. Keeping this recorded will eventually indicate a pattern and give you an idea of when you are ovulating.
Standard IVF Treatment Timeline
To give you an idea of the importance of timing during infertility treatment, take a look at the following IVF treatment timeline.
- a visit to the clinic is usually scheduled 2 or 3 days into your menstrual period for an ultrasound and blood tests
- oral contraceptives will begin to then be ingested for 2-4 weeks
- once your cycle is understood, a day will be chosen to begin ovarian stimulation
- once you have reached day 5 of of ovarian stimulation you will begin regular visits to the clinic to continue ultrasounds and blood tests
- once ovulation is triggered, the sperm will be collected from your partner and your egg will be retrieved on the same day
- fertilization then takes place and the embryo will be transferred to the uterus 3-5 days after the egg retrieval
Meeting With An Infertility Doctor
In order to figure out the best time for all of this to take place, you will want to speak to a specialist. Infertility doctors have a whole process in place to gain a good understanding of your cycle and plan the optimal timing for fertilization. It is time to see an infertility doctor if you:
- are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for over a year.
- are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months.
- are over 40 and have been trying for 3 months.
In the initial consultation, your doctor will review your medical history and arrange a physical exam and some other possible testing. Through these tests they will attempt to determine the cause of infertility so they are able to recommend the most appropriate treatment. If this is something you are considering, the best thing to do is talk to a specialist to ensure all of your questions are answered accurately.
Before you meet with anyone, write down your questions so you are prepared and get the most out of the experience. The more knowledge that you gain, the easier it will be to make your decision about how you wish to move forward.