Somewhere between your goals, career, relationships and finances, you’ve decided you’re ready to welcome a baby into your life. This is great news – unfortunately, the process of conception can be a little tricky.
Your most fertile time is during ovulation, or typically 14 days before the start of your period, when a single egg (ovum) is released from one of your ovaries. Once released, the egg is capable of being fertilized for 12 to 48 hours before it starts to disintegrate. The time of ovulation may differ somewhat based on your individual menstrual cycle. Statistically, even a young, fertile couple has just a one-in-four shot at conceiving each month. Throw in variables like age and health of both partners, and the odds may get slimmer.
Every couple faces these challenges, so don’t get discouraged by the numbers. However, if you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for over a year, it could be beneficial to look into infertility treatments.
If it’s taking longer than you expected to conceive, be assured that you’re not alone – about one in ten couples in the nation experience infertility. Fertility is a medical problem that can originate in a man or a woman. About one-third of infertility cases are attributed to males, another third to females, and the remaining third to both partners. Female fertility problems can include irregular or absent ovulation, and abnormalities of the fallopian tubes or uterus.
Investigating the possible reasons behind suspected infertility requires a number of tests for both you and your partner. Tests for you may include:
- Blood tests that measure hormones, to determine if ovulation is occurring
- Laparoscopic surgery that allows the doctor to examine the abdomen to treat or diagnose the causes of infertility
- Ultrasound examinations to check for the presence of uterine fibroids, benign tumors that may grow and block fallopian tubes or prevent implantation
- Analysis of the male’s semen to determine the quantity and health of sperm
There are a number of infertility treatments available that you can explore. These vary from lifestyle changes, surgery, medication, to assisted reproduction. Remember that though these treatments may increase the chances of conception, they do not guarantee it. Treatment options for female infertility depend on the cause, but may include:
- Hormone treatments to incite ovulation.
- Surgery to unblock fallopian tubes, treat endometriosis or remove fibroids.
- Assisted reproductive technologies including in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which a woman’s eggs are harvested, fertilized in a laboratory, and then re-inserted into the uterus.
As always, ask your doctor, family planning clinic or fertility clinic if you have questions about fertility.