Fertility and Ovulation
Fertility is defined by the ability of a woman to conceive and bear children through normal sexual activity. Ovulation, on the other hand, refers to the actual day in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible and occurs when hormone changes trigger an ovary to release an egg. A woman’s fertile window varies but is generally the day an egg is released from the ovary (ovulation) and the five days beforehand.
So, how do you know if you are fertile? The odds are with you because only about 12% of women have trouble getting or staying pregnant, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. However, it can be hard to know your fertility until you try to conceive. Here are some things that can give insight into your fertility health:
- Your age – a woman’s fertility declines with age. Fertility is at it’s peak when we’re young adults with average fertility declines starting in the mid-30s and ending with menopause.
- Regular menstrual cycles – show hormones are in sync and you are ovulating.
- Healthy teeth and gums – research show those with gum disease take longer to conceive and good dental health reduces risk of miscarriage.
- Pelvic pain – long heavy, painful periods or pelvic pain could be a sign of fibroids or endometriosis which can affect your ability to conceive. Pelvic trauma or past surgeries can also affect fertility.
- Unchecked STDs – pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a byproduct of certain STDs, can damage your reproductive organs and increase your risk of infertility. Practice safe sex, and if you think you have an STD, see your doctor right away for treatment.
- Healthy lifestyle – eat a healthy diet, get good exercise, lower stress, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol intake to help improve your fertility.
- Healthy weight – a body mass index (BMI) that is too low can cause ovulation to stop as the body tries to conserve energy. A BMI that is too high can disrupt hormone levels. Insulin resistance can inhibit ovulation and affect egg quality as well as embryo/fetus development. A healthy BMI range is from 20-24.
Also, knowing about ovulation and the changes in a woman’s body will give clues about the best time to conceive. Here’s how you can recognize the signs that can indicate when you’re ovulating:
- Cervical mucus – More estrogen causes cervical mucus to become stretchy and clear, like egg whites. This helps sperm survive and swim. After ovulation, cervical mucus becomes stickier and thicker.
- Abdominal pain – A mild ache or pain in the lower abdomen that comes on suddenly, usually on the side of the ovary releasing the egg, called Mittelschmerz. This can occur just before ovulation when follicle growth stretches the ovary or when the follicle ruptures and the egg is ovulated.
- Breast soreness/tenderness – This usually begins around ovulation and is caused by the rush of hormones.
- Light spotting or discharge.
- Increased sex drive
Some women find it helpful to use a fertility calendar to track their fertile days and ovulation. We recommend Glow, Fertility Friend, or Clue, apps for fertility and more. Other tracking tools are over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits like those made by Clearblue. These kits are designed to detect increased hormone levels in urine and signal when you’re most fertile.
Let’s Talk About Infertility
What is infertility? Infertility affects about 10% of women aged 15 to 44 and is defined as the inability of a sexually active couple who are not using birth control to get pregnant after one year of trying, according to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
For women who are younger than 35 and aren’t pregnant in a year or for women who are 35 or older and aren’t pregnant in 6 months, plan to see a fertility specialist. Around 85% of couples who are trying will be pregnant within a year, so if you can’t get pregnant now, it could be a sign that something medical is preventing you from conceiving and you may need extra help to achieve your goals of a family.
Of all cases, infertility can be due to the woman (33%), the man (33%), by both sexes, and due to unknown problems (33%), approximately.
The best way to know if your fertile is to get a fertility checkup to check your hormone levels and egg health.
At Vios, Conception is Our Life
Just as each individual is unique, the same is true of their fertility. During your consultation, we will discuss your goals for family building, your medical history, and review needed fertility testing to determine the best treatment path for you.
To understand your specific options concerning fertility diagnosis and treatment paths, schedule a consultation today.