16 Aug Pregnancy and Fertility: Tips for Couples Trying to Conceive
Making the decision to get pregnant is a very exciting time and there are opportunities women and men can take to increase the chances of conceiving and optimize the chances for a healthy pregnancy.
Make a General Doctor Appointment
Even if you believe you are in good health and prepared for pregnancy, your doctor can still help you be ready by asking about your present health, your lifestyle, and medical and medication history and menstrual history and family and genetic history to see if there are any elements that might affect your conception plans. Prior to trying to conceive, your doctor may recommend specific blood tests, genetic tests and vaccinations.
Several tests can be helpful to see if you have any issues that may affect your chances to conceive.
The most common fertility tests for women include the following:
- Ovarian reserve testing estimates the number of eggs a woman has with respect to that of other women her age. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and their supply depletes over time. A woman’s ovarian reserve can be evaluated by a blood test that measures the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which can be drawn at any point in the menstrual cycle. Another marker of ovarian reserve is an antral follicle count (AFC). A transvaginal ultrasound is used to examine the ovaries and assess the group of eggs that are made hormonally receptive in each cycle. It is important to note that ovarian reserve testing may not be helpful in predicting pregnancy in women who are not infertile.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an outpatient imaging test that checks to see if the fallopian tubes are open and anatomically normal in appearance.
- Transvaginal ultrasonography,performed by inserting an ultrasound probe into the woman’s vagina, allows the fertility specialist to view the uterus and ovaries and examine them for cysts, fibroids, or other abnormalities.
- Saline infusion sonohysterography (SHG), detects uterine abnormalities like polyps, fibroids, or Müllerian anomalies. It involves filling the uterus with saline (a salt solution) prior to performing a transvaginal ultrasound.
The male partner should be evaluated for fertility issues anytime a couple is not pregnant after one year of timed intercourse when the woman is under 35, and six months when the woman is over the age of 35.
Men who have risk factors for infertility such as testicular cancer, severe trauma, chemotherapy, radiation, or known genetic risks for male infertility should be evaluated sooner.
Common male fertility tests include:
Physical examination and review of medical and sexual history
- Semen analysis to determine semen volume, sperm concentration (number per milliliter), motility (movement) and morphology (shape). Semen analysis can be performed at FSMG.
- Blood hormone analysis to detect variance in hormone levels
- An ultrasound of internal organs
- Biopsy to check for infection and other abnormalities.
Couples who are having intercourse every two to three days are right on track.
Long periods of abstinence can decrease the quality of sperm. Couples should have sex at least two to three times a week during the fertile period. A couple has more chances for pregnancy if they have sex every one to two days during the fertile window. Pregnancy is most likely if a couple has sex within the six days up to and including the day of ovulation. Conception is less likely after ovulation. Sperm can survive in the body for up to several days whereas a woman’s egg can only survive for up to 24 hours.
Follow Your Cycles
Tracking your reproductive window and timing sex to optimize your chance of pregnancy requires knowing when you ovulate. Each month, around halfway through your menstrual cycle, your ovaries release an egg (or eggs), which is known as ovulation. Menses happens approximately 14 days after ovulation if a pregnancy does not occur. Your fertile window lasts for roughly six days altogether, which includes the five days prior to ovulation, and the day of ovulation.
To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.