Evaluating Fertility

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Published: 09th February 2007
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If you are planning a family and want to time your baby-making sex you are most likely to feel the need to assess your fertility in order to optimize chances of pregnancy so that you may know when to consult a doctor. Knowing how to evaluate your fertility goes a long way to allay concerns of couples wanting to start a family. Evaluating fertility provides a greater insight into matters like ovulation, the best time to conceive, and other fertility related issues like age and chances of pregnancy without treatment.

Both male and female fertility is dependent upon hormonal cycles which in turn determine when a woman can become pregnant and when males are most fertile. The female reproductive cycle is approximately 28 days and a three to six day variation is considered to be normal. Ovulation occurs on the fourteen days before the next menstrual period is due. A woman's fertility is at its peak on the day of ovulation and lasts till the fourth day prior to the start of the next period.

The question that is on the minds of most couples who are desirous of starting a family is of how to ascertain the exact days of ovulation and whether it is occurring or not. There are quite a few ovulation calculators available with doctors as well as on the Internet that make it possible to ascertain fertility levels. What you need to do is to simply enter the first day of your last menstrual period and the calculator tells you the next ovulation date. Such calculators, however, do not work if your menstrual cycle is irregular and longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days.

But there are other ways of ascertaining fertility. If you can track your cervical mucus, it can tell you with a fair degree of accuracy, whether you are ovulating or not. The cervical mucus is thin, profuse, clear and stretchy just before ovulation. After ovulation, the cervical mucus becomes thick, tacky, scanty and sticky. You can observe this change in the character of cervical mucus by seeing or feeling it.

You can also determine the occurrence of ovulation by using the Basal Body Temperature method. The body temperature varies during ovulation and after it. The hormone, progesterone, produced by the corpus luteum triggers off an increase in the body temperature after ovulation by 0.5 to 1.0 degrees. The Basal Body temperature method of assessing fertility is a simple procedure that requires you to note your oral temperature every morning before engaging in any activity. This is important because eating, drinking and even moving about change the body temperature and render the procedure ineffective. The basal thermometer allows you to measure the smallest increase in temperature as it has a least count that can measure up to a tenth of a degree. And therefore, if you record your basal body temperature on a chart on the onset of menstruation and note the temperature fluctuations throughout the period of the menstrual cycle, you can get a fair assessment of the timing of your ovulation. A rise of about 0.5 degrees in temperature on or about fourteen days in the cycle would suggest that ovulation has occurred.

Blood tests to determine ovulation are expensive and inconvenient. You can, however, opt for the ovulation predictor kits that are available in the market. These simple and affordable kits measure the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge that happens shortly before ovulation. Home urinary tests are accurate as much as the surge in LH is concerned but do not establish ovulation as a certainty.

In case you are having difficulty in conceiving, the most foolproof method of ascertaining fertile periods is to visit your doctor as they are fully equipped with the latest advances in technology for treatment. You should choose the doctor on the basis of your specific requirements for consultation. Family doctors or general practitioners are not fully trained to treat your reproductive system and are most likely to direct you to a specialist. Obstetricians or gynecologists are better trained for women's health issues. A fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist is trained in the field of reproductive medicine, treatment of reproductive problems and for performing advanced reproductive techniques like in-vitro fertilization.

Fertility in men is mainly associated with their ability to produce sperm and transporting it out their body so as to enter the reproductive tract of the partner. Men can do this any time of the month but the quantity and quality of the sperm can be affected by stress, anxiety, and medical conditions like prostrate enlargement or infertility. Sterility is often mistaken for infertility in men and it should be noted that infertility does not mean a total inability to make your partner pregnant. With advancement in medical research, infertility is now defined with temporal and physical elements. You should assume infertility only if a concerted effort at conception has been made with unprotected intercourse and failed.

Fertility Facts | Offers extensive articles and resources on fertility, infertility, fertility treatments, getting pregnant and pregnancy.

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