No matter if you may have tried for some to get pregnant or you are just starting out. Learning more about your and your partner's fertility but especially if you suspect that you and your partner may have a problem getting pregnant, finding and eliminating the cause will obviously be your and your doctor's No. 1 concern. But don't panic. Eighty percent of infertility cases can be traced to three categories:
- Sperm problems
- Fallopian tube problems
- Ovulation problems
Here is the distribution of these problems:
- 30% Sperm problems
- 25% Fallopian tubes
- 25% Ovulation
- 50% BOTH ovulation AND sperm problems
- 5-10% Cervical issues
- 10-15% Unexplained infertility
Were you surprised at the "male factor," the sperm problems? Many people are. Also, in 50% of cases both partners have an infertility problem. That's why Dr. Amos highly recommends that you and your partner see a doctor as soon as you decide to start a family. Seeing a doctor for a Periconception visit may help you find out if there are any problems or not and may help you get pregnant faster.
But even if you're already a few cycles into baby-making mode, answering the following three questions as soon as possible will go a long way to establishing your chances of a successful conception.
- How are his sperm?
- Am I ovulating?
- Are my fallopian tubes open?
A spermanalysis can answer this question painlessly and without any needles or drugs. And, as Dr. Amos loves to say, it's the only test in the world that involves an orgasm! And remember guys, letting your partner subject herself to batteries of invasive tests and drug regimens without having yourself evaluated just isn't, well, manly.
An answer to the ovulation question can be found in a number of ways:
Checking for yourself:
- Regular menstrual cycles: If you have a very regular menstrual cycle lasting between 21 and 35 days, then you can assume you ovulate regularly.
- Fertility charting: Fertility charting includes taking your basal body temperature and looking for other fertility signs such as changes in the cervical mucus. A biphasic basal body temperature chart shows reliably that you ovulated. Of course, the My Fertility Chart tool here at BabyMed is a major benefit of your membership. It's easy to create and understand, and you can share your results with other members as well as Dr. Amos and his staff. Much more info about charting and how to create your own charts can be found here.
- Typical changes in cervical mucus will also help you figure out when you when and if you ovulate and when your fertile days are.
- Ovulation predictor kits (OPK): OPKs are pretty reliable methods of detecting ovulation. A positive OPK can predict ovulation most of the time.
How your doctor checks:
- Spermanalysis: Doing a sperm count will help you answer the question whether he has a problem or not.
- Blood progesterone levels: An elevated progesterone level about a week after presumed ovulation confirms ovulation.
- Pelvic ultrasound examinations: If they are done before and after ovulation, they can show the development of the follicle, and if it disappears, ovulation can be assumed.
- Endometrial biopsy: An endometrial biopsy about 10 days after ovulation can confirm that ovulation happened.
- Checking the status of your fallopian tubes (called patency) is often done with a hysterosalpingogram (HISS-ter-o-sal-PEENG-go-gram; or even easier, just HSG). The HSG is an X-ray test in which dye is injected through the cervix and into the uterus and fallopian tubes while the doctor watches on a video screen. The uterine cavity fills with dye, and if the fallopian tubes are open the dye will fill the tubes and spill out into the abdominal cavity. The HSG is usually done in the first half of the menstrual cycle, between the end of the menstrual period and before ovulation. The HSG is useful to determine if the fallopian tubes are open and if the cavity of the uterus is normally shaped. There is a slight increase of fertility after this test, but it's important to keep in mind it is a diagnostic test, not a treatment.