Curious about fertility? Learn how long to keep “trying” before making an appointment, which fertility tests are right for you, and more answers to your most pressing fertility questions!
Reproductive medicine continues to progress as fertility treatments become more and more common, but for patients who struggle to conceive, the experience can still feel alienating. When fertility is an issue and emotions are high, misinformation is especially harmful. Take a look at these answers to the top eight questions about fertility to help you ignore the myths and focus on the facts.
1. How Long Should We Keep Trying?
If you haven’t seen a fertility specialist yet, there are a few factors that can help you determine whether it’s a good time to make that first appointment. If you’re younger than 35, and you have no history of disorders or symptoms that may affect your reproductive health, see a specialist after trying for more than a year with proper timing.
If you’re 35 or older, come in after six months. Pelvic inflammatory disorder, miscarriage, and irregular cycles may also affect your fertility, so seek help sooner if you have any of these conditions – or if your male partner has a low sperm count.
2. Does Infertility Mostly Affect Women?
Infertility is not just a “woman’s problem”. This outdated concept has no basis in reality because an equal number of men and women – 35% of each group – struggle with infertility. In some cases, infertility may affect both the male and female trying to conceive; in other rare cases, there may be no known cause.
3. When Do Women Ovulate?
Ovulation is a time of peak fertility, usually occurring once a month for about a week. It starts two weeks before a woman’s menstrual cycle, so it’s important to keep close track of each month’s cycle and anticipate the next start date. If you have a 28-day cycle, have intercourse on the 12th, 14th, and 16th day of your cycle. If there are 32 days between the first dates of each period, have sex on the 16th, 18th, and 20th day.
4. How Do I Know I’m Ovulating?
If you have a regular menstrual cycle that lasts between 24 and 36 days, you can calculate your ovulation cycles too. However, there are over-the-counter kits that predict your ovulation cycles with a bit more accuracy. If your cycle is short, long, or irregular, a fertility specialist can help you figure out the right timing.
5. What Fertility Tests Do I Need?
When you see a fertility specialist or any other physician for help with fertility, there are a few basic tests they should perform. The first is a series of blood tests, which help doctors determine hormone levels in both women and men. If you’re a man, your doctor will also order a semen analysis. If you’re a woman, you will receive an ultrasound of your uterus and ovaries, as well as an examination of your fallopian tubes.
6. Should He Stay Away from Hot Tubs?
This one actually isn’t a myth. The scrotum is external, rather than internal, to protect sperm from the body’s high temperatures. When men soak their scrotum in a hot tub or expose it to heat in a sauna or steam room, it may damage the viable sperm inside.
7. What Else Should We Know?
Whether you’re in the middle of fertility treatments or just considering your options, it’s important to take full advantage of all the resources at your disposal. Ask friends and family members about their experiences, talk to your doctor, go to the library, and scour trusted websites that offer hard facts on reproductive health. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, RESOLVE, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are good places to start.
8. How Is Infertility Treated?
Fertility treatments will vary depending on what is causing your infertility. Infertility can be treated with medicines, artificial insemination, or surgery. The most common treatments are hormone injections ovary stimulators for women. Talk to your gynecologist or fertility specialist about the pros and cons of each procedure before deciding on a course of action.
9. What Things Increase My Chances of Infertility?
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of conceiving. Avoid these risk factors to improve your chances:
- Excess Alcohol Use
- Poor Diet
- Athletic Training
- Being overweight
10. If I Think I’m Pregnant, How Long Do I Wait Before Seeing an OB/GYN?
If you work with a fertility specialist, they may recommend waiting until the ninth week of gestation to make an appointment with an obstetrician. You’ll need a series of tests during your first trimester, so if you suspect you might be pregnant, and you’re not working with a fertility specialist, make an appointment for your first blood test to confirm.
For answers to your fertility questions, contact the Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 to schedule an appointment and learn more about your prenatal, postnatal, and general health care options.