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(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

Fertility and infertility

Fertility is a word to describe whether someone is capable of making a child. For a woman this refers to the health of your eggs and ability to get and stay pregnant.

For men, fertility refers to whether your sperm is healthy and potent. Most healthy people who want to get pregnant can.

Only when a woman ovulates during her menstrual cycle is there an unfertilised egg waiting for a sperm cell. Once an egg comes into contact with sperm, it becomes fertilised and attaches itself to the womb. This starts the conception process and you become pregnant.

If you have sex before you ovulate, sperm can hang around for days in your fallopian tube waiting for an egg to pop out. If you have sex after you ovulate, the egg will be ready and wait for the sperm to arrive.
But remember, having sex only at other times of the month is not a reliable way to avoid getting pregnant!

Fertile and most fertile

What’s the difference between being ‘fertile’ and being ‘most fertile’? If you’re fertile, it means you’re able to get pregnant – you’ve reached puberty and your ovaries are working properly. You’re most fertile around the time of ovulation, so you’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex at this time.

Ovulation roulette

You can get pregnant from the first time you ovulate, so even before you have your first period. On the other hand, just because you’ve started your periods doesn’t mean you can get pregnant.

In the first year you have your periods, an egg might only be released one in five times. By the time you’ve been having periods for six years, an egg will be released nine out of ten times.

But remember, if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t play ovulation roulette – use contraception.

Less fertile

As you get older, especially over the age of about 30, you tend to become less fertile, and eventually, you stop ovulating and having periods. On average, women are able to get pregnant between the ages of 15 and 49.

Fertility and weight

If you’re too big or too thin it can affect your chances of getting pregnant.
To get a rough idea of whether your weight could be affecting your fertility, you can work out your BMI.

BMI the complicated way
Your BMI is your weight (in kilos) divided by your height (in meters) squared. So if you weigh 72 kilograms and your height is 1.72 metres, your BMI is 72 divided by 1.72 x 1.72 = 24.9.

BMI the easy way
All that arithmetic sounds too much like hard work? Don’t worry, just go to an online BMI calculator like this one and it will do the maths for you!

Your BMI is considered to be ‘normal’ if it’s between 18.5 and 25 – though this is only a rough guide.

If your BMI is lower than about 18.5 or higher than about 28, you could be less fertile. So it’s important to eat as healthy and varied a diet as you can, and try to get your weight closer to the ‘normal’ range.

Fertility testing

So you've been patiently trying to get pregnant for 18 months or more. And you and your partner have tried all the tips. But you're still not pregnant.

You might want to start trying to find out if there’s some medical problem that’s stopping you getting pregnant.
The easiest place to start is with the man. Men often assume that it’s the woman who’s got the fertility problem if she’s having trouble getting pregnant. But it’s just as likely to be the man.

For men, it’s pretty easy to have your sperm tested to see if you’re producing enough healthy sperm. For women it takes more trouble and detective work, involving a variety of tests. So usually it makes sense to start fertility testing with the man.

Tests for men

Fertility testing for men is pretty straightforward. You need to provide a sample of sperm, and they'll check it out for you in the lab. When you visit your health professional for a fertility test, first of all, he may well want to ask you some pretty personal questions about your sex life, and also examine your genitals. Then he’ll send off a sample of your sperm to have it analysed.

Of course, you might want to say no to any embarrassing examinations and just provide a sperm sample. Though be grateful, it wouldn’t be an option for your partner to skip uncomfortable and intimate examinations!

Providing a sperm sample

You usually provide a sperm sample just by masturbating and squirting the sperm into a clean container. And if you don’t have to travel too far to the clinic, you may well be able to produce the sample at home.

If for religious reasons you object to masturbating, you can collect the sperm in a special condom when you have intercourse. And if also for religious reasons you don’t want to use a condom, you can always prick a hole in it first.

The result

The lab will give a report on how much sperm is in your semen, and how many of them are healthy – whether they can ‘swim’ well and are able to fertilise an egg.

You may find you have plenty of healthy sperm, so at least you know the problem doesn’t lie with you. But it could also be that you have relatively few healthy sperm, which makes it harder for you to get your partner pregnant.

The best thing then is to make sure you follow all the fertility tips for men – like not smoking or drinking, and keeping your testicles cool. If there are no sperm at all, then you can get medical help to find out what’s causing the problem, and see if something can be done about it.

Home testing

If you really want to avoid any embarrassment, you can now get home kits to test your sperm. These kits aren’t as reliable as a proper test in a lab. They only tell you how much sperm there are in your semen, but not how healthy they are. You can order a kit online for about $ 30 plus postage.

Tests for women

Fertility testing for women is more complicated than it is for men, basically just because there are more different reasons you could be having trouble getting pregnant. This means you might need to have various different tests.

They could include:

  • A cervical mucus test, to see if sperm can survive in the mucus at the neck of your womb.
  • An ultrasound scan to check your womb and ovaries.
  • Hormone tests to check your levels of the hormones involved in getting pregnant.
  • An X-ray of your womb and fallopian tubes to see if there is a blockage. First, some dye is injected through your cervix.
  • A hysteroscopy, when a flexible tube like a tiny telescope is inserted through the cervix to look inside the womb.

Home testing

You can also buy a home fertility test for women. This measures the level of the FSH hormone in your body, which can show how likely it is that you’ll be able to get pregnant. The test indicates how many eggs you have left in your ovaries, but it’s not necessarily very accurate.

Did you learn something new?

Hello Robert, What makes you feel you need fertility drugs? You may need to visit a specialist for them to find out what exactly is the issue is after which they will be able to recommend or prescribe what steps or drugs you need to take if any.
Hi Jamal, Masturbation will not cause infertility, this is just a myth. As long as you are health your body will keep producing sperm. Check out the following article for more information;-
Hello Sherlin, Have you talked about having children with your husband? What action does he not want to be party to? You may need to talk about having children and whether this is the right time for you both to have children. Having children is big decision and you have to think about this decision and agree on how to proceed. We wish you well.
Mon, 07/31/2017 - 02:35 pm
I am 31 yrs old, i have been sexually active sinve 18. I have never even been pregnant. I have been trying seriously for 9 yrs and nothing. I am so miserable
Hey, First, you are not alone in this and for this reason you are not worthless. You can still get pregnant and go on to be a great mother. We are so sorry about this and we can imagine the frustration and distress this has caused you and perhaps your partner. There is no correlation between when one starts to have sex and whether they will get pregnant in the future. It is important you seek the services of a specialist specifically a Gynaecologist so they can help determine what could be going on and prescribe a solution for you. We wish you well.
Hi Gift, it's completely normal for men to have what is called a refractory period, where it cannot get hard after ejaculation. There is no real way to change it or make it happen less, so one should just try to work with their own body. If one is really hoping to have more sex, then it helps to take this time to recharge and focus on ones partner. This is a good time to focus on their partner and give them pleasure.
I have been using 3months injection of family planning for 2 years and i stopped so that I can conceived. Now it's 2 years again. How do i do?
Hi Viona, It's expected that one will become pregnant soon after they stop using birth control. Now that you have been trying for more that 12 months it is important you need to visit a specialist with your partner for a check up and a advice. Do visit a Gynecologist who will be able to advice. Check out this article;-
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 05:17 pm
Hallo shagazi my period was on 19th Oct 2017 .. I did sex on date 1,2,3 and 4 which are my fertile day but still this month got period which is is so light what might be the problem
Tally Mourine
Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:36 pm
Hi,am one month pregnant but the problem am having is too much headache every now and then,what could be the problem and how can I do away with it
Hi Maggy, Even with an irregular cycle one usually ovulates mid-cycle. Ovulation is the process where the egg is released from the ovary to fallopian tubes and during this process a woman is most fertile. Some of the signs include change of texture in vaginal fluids, increased desire for sex, bloated abdomen among other. Check out this article:-

Hey Vivian, If you have been trying for longer than one year after you stopped using the contraceptive, it maybe important for you and your partner to visit a specialist for a check. If it has not been this long yet, I suggest you keep trying. Have a look at this article with tips to increase your chances;-

Hi Gift, it's completely normal for men to have what is called a refractory period, where it cannot get hard after ejaculation. There is no real way to change it or make it happen less, so one should just try to work with their own body. If one is really hoping to have more sex, then it helps to take this time to recharge and focus on ones partner. This is a good time to focus on their partner and give them pleasure.
Love Matters
Sat, 03/24/2018 - 12:19 am

Hi Josiah, Masturbation has no medical effect. It can be a great and safe way to explore ones sexuality. Check out this article;-

Sorry about your loss Joan. You have been trying for longer than one year, it is now important that you consult a Specialist Gynecologist who will advice you and your partner. Check out this article;-

Hi There, using the E-Pill has no such effects. The side effects one experiences are short term and usually appear after taking the pill. Check out this article for more information on Emergency Contraception;-

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