Many factors play a part in contributing to your fertility, or ability to become pregnant. Knowing your fertility begins with understanding the window of opportunity. The “fertile window” involves the menstrual cycle and ovulation.
Did you know that lifestyle habits and environmental factors can also affect your fertility? Understanding what affects your fertility can give you peace of mind when it comes to conceiving and exploring other options.
Your ability to conceive involves your menstrual cycle regularity and the release of a healthy egg. Tracking your menstrual cycle will help you pinpoint your “fertility window.” While the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days. The first day of your period marks the beginning of a new cycle.
Most women ovulate sometime between days 11 and 21 of her cycle. Do you know when you’re ovulating? There are ovulation predictor kits and other definite ways of determining your optimal days to conceive. There are also some physical signs you may notice. Every woman is different and may or may not experience physical symptoms. Here’s what to look for.
Signs of ovulation:
- Body temperature declines and then rises
- Tender breasts
- Cervical mucus becomes watery and stretchy
- Abdominal cramping on one side, known as “mittelschmerz” or middle pain
There’s a lot of complex hormonal and physical changes during this short ovulation period. Your cervix experiences changes in position and mucus to prepare for possible conception. Luteinizing hormone (LH) increases and an egg is released, now ready for fertilizing by the sperm. The egg travels along one of the two fallopian tubes that connect your ovaries to your uterus. During this time, the egg exists for 24 hours awaiting fertilization. Timing is key.
Your partner’s sperm health is a major contributor to fertility, or the ability to conceive. The egg that is released needs a single sperm to fertilize it. Sperm takes quite a journey to reach the egg, so healthy motility is important. Sperm motility involves speed, volume and shape. It’s the ability of sperm to move efficiently.
Lifestyle and environmental factors that affect your fertility
Medical conditions and taking certain medicines can affect the reproductive system. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle sets you on the right path to fertility. Food, weight, exercise, smoking habits, and environmental toxins may impact ovulation in women and sperm health in men. Being severely underweight or obese can negatively impact ovulation and cause hormone changes in both men and women.
In men, smoking is connected to a lower sperm count and quality. Excess alcohol consumption affects testosterone and may affect ovulation as well. Generally, it would be best to limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. Remember, everything we consume can affect our hormones, which impacts our reproductive health.
Problems with fertility and identifying infertility
Most couples under 30 will become pregnant within a year of having unprotected intercourse. Infertility usually is diagnosed if a woman has not become pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse. If a woman is 35 or older, the evaluation of fertility should begin after six months of trying unsuccessfully to conceive.
There is a correlation between age and fertility. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. That number of eggs decreases with age and then the eggs dissipate by the time menopause occurs. Though men continue to produce sperm throughout their life, researchers and studies suggest men’s fertility also may decline with age.
Signs of infertility:
- Irregular periods or no period at all
- Painful or heavy periods
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation issues
The only way to determine infertility is through fertility testing.
You have options when it comes to your fertility
Here at Alabama Fertility, we offer a variety of options to assist you on your journey to pregnancy.
Fertility Testing – The basic infertility test and evaluation we offer will assess numerous functions and potential issues.
Fertility Treatment – Our treatments include intrauterine insemination, assisted reproductive technologies and ovulation induction.
In Vitro Fertilization – We make recommendations based on your particular infertility diagnosis. We offer IVF procedures that can increase the likelihood of achieving pregnancy.
Donor Eggs – We offer two types of donor egg options for patients to consider: fresh or frozen.
Reproductive Surgery – Our center offers treatment of uterine fibroids, endometriosis and congenital anomalies using both open and minimally invasive surgery
Learn more about fertility treatment from Alabama Fertility in Birmingham, AL
At Alabama Fertility Specialists, we treat all patients with the care and compassion that complex reproductive issues require. We encourage you to ask your doctors and nurses at Alabama Fertility Specialists as many questions as you need to in order to find out more.