Pre-Pregnancy Fertility Check
More and more women are waiting until their mid to late thirties to have children. For some, everything will go exactly as planned but, for others, they find themselves down the dark tunnel that is infertility. Not having known that it would be so difficult to conceive, many women regret not starting the process earlier. For this reason, we are going to go through some simple steps that any woman can follow that will show key signs of infertility. We recommend these steps to anyone planning to have children within 2 years.
The first thing we recommend is getting any fertility app (e.g. Fertility Friend) that allows you to track the following items:
- Length and start of cycle
- Expected fertile days (high and peak)
- Basal body temperature
Step 1: Cycle Length
The first thing you want to track is your cycle length. You will need to enter the day(s) that you get your period into the app. Although the average woman has a period that lasts 28 days, anything between 21 and 35 is considered normal. It's also okay if a random cycle varies by a couple of days in terms of length. What is important to understand is that there are only a couple of days a month when the cervix (entry to the uterus) is open. That means if you are only getting your period 4 times a year, there are only about 8 days where it's possible to conceive. Women who have very long and inconsistent cycle lengths may suffer from a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome which often requires fertility intervention. For this reason, if your period is not within 21 to 35 days, we recommend seeing a fertility specialist at least a year before the original desired conception date. Make sure to bring a printout of your charts.
Step 2: Fertility Sticks
The second thing we wanted to discuss were fertility sticks. Your expected fertile days are dependent on your cycle length and usually occur the 4 days prior to ovulation (release of an egg). The fertility sticks function similarly to pregnancy tests in that they measure hormones in your urine. The sticks provide you with a readout that indicates your 3 high fertile days and 1 peak day. The fertility sticks inform you that your hormones are working properly but they don't actually inform you if you've ovulated (released an egg). If by chance your hormones don't seem to be fluctuating, this could be a sign that fertility intervention is required and we again recommend seeing a fertility specialist at least a year before the original desired conception date. Make sure to bring a printout of your charts.
Step 3: Ovulation and Basal Body Temperature
The third step we recommend is purchasing a basal body thermometer (i.e. two decimal points of accuracy). You will have to take your temperature orally each morning before even getting out of bed and note the value in your app. What you should see is that the temperature between your day of peak fertility and the following day has risen and stays high until your next period. This is the only sign that ovulation (release of an egg) has actually occurred. If there is no temperature fluctuation, we again recommend seeing a fertility specialist at least a year before the original desired conception date. Make sure to bring a printout of your charts.
Other Possible Issues
It is possible that even though all three steps were successful, something else could be blocking you from conceiving. The good news is that already having gone through these steps at home will save months with the specialist and help him or her pinpoint the issue. We have listed a couple of additional items that may affect fertility:
- Uterine cells outside the uterus
- Runs in families (may want to start conception process a year earlier)
- Fixed with a D&C
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Sometimes reopened during the test that scans for the problem (i.e. Hysterosalpingography)
- Easily fixed with minor surgery
- Benign tumors in the uterus
- Can make it diffult for the egg to attach or stay attached (prone to miscarriages)
- Can be fixed with surgery
- General health