What is fertility?
Fertility is about the ability to get pregnant. More than 8 out of 10 couples where the woman is aged under 40 will get pregnant within one year if they have regular unprotected sex. More than 9 out of 10 couples will get pregnant within 2 years. Regular, unprotected sex means having sex every 2 to 3 days without using contraception.
You don't need to time having sex only around ovulation. Having vaginal sexual intercourse every 2 to 3 days will give you the best chance of getting pregnant. Remember it’s important for you and your partner to try and keep sex enjoyable by concentrating on each other and your relationship, rather than worrying about conceiving. This will help you limit stress.
Contraception and getting pregnant
Most women use contraception as a safe way to avoid getting pregnant when they are not ready for children. When you stop contraception, it is often because you would like to try for a baby. If you have been taking contraception that uses hormones (such as the Pill, the patch, injections) for a long time, you may not know your cycle very well (for example how long it is). This is because the bleed that happens when you move to a new packet of the Pill is not a true period. A true period happens when you ovulate (release an egg from your ovaries) and the Pill prevents ovulation.
If you’ve stopped taking contraceptives that were based on hormones your periods may be a bit irregular (come at different times of the month) for the first few months while your body gets used to the change in hormone levels. The Pill does not cause infertility but it may cover up conditions that are linked to infertility because lack of periods is a sign of ovulation problems, endometriosis or PCOS. If you do not have periods anyway, these problems may be missed until you come off contraception.
Ovulation and conception
Ovulation is the release of an egg from one of the ovaries. After release, the egg moves to the fallopian tube, where it stays for 24 hours or so.
Pregnancy occurs if sperm travels to the fallopian tube and fertilizes the egg during this time. If sperm does not fertilize the egg, the egg moves to the uterus and breaks down, ready to leave the body during the next menstrual period.
According to Gynecologists, ovulation takes place around 14 days before a person expects to have their next period if their monthly cycle is 28 days. Most people ovulate between days 11 and 21 of their cycle. The first day of their last menstrual period (LMP) is day 1 of the cycle. Ovulation does not always occur on the same day every month and can vary by a day or more either side of the expected date.
Doctors call the part of the cycle around ovulation the fertile window because a woman’s chance of pregnancy is highest at this time. For example, if a woman ovulates on day 14, they can conceive on that day or within the following 24 hours. However, their fertile window began a few days before ovulation because sperm can survive for up to 5 days inside the female body. So, even if a woman does not have sex on day 14 or 15, it is still possible to become pregnant if they had unprotected sex on days 9 to 13.
A study published in the journal Human Reproduction looked at data from 5,830 pregnant women. The researchers found that the probability of a person getting pregnant rises sharply 7 days after the LMP. This probability of pregnancy is highest at 15 days and returns to zero by 25 days.
For the women in the study, the probability of being within the fertile window was:
- 2 percent at day 4 of their cycle
- 58 percent at day 12 of their cycle
- 5 percent at day 21 of their cycle
The research also reports that older women and women with regular cycles tend to conceive earlier in their cycle. It is essential to note that these findings should only act as a guideline. Every person and every cycle is different. It can be helpful for a person to chart their monthly cycle and take note of the signs of ovulation to help pinpoint the exact day of ovulation each month.
Signs of ovulation
Tracking the signs of ovulation can help someone determine the precise day they ovulate each month. Signs include:
- mild cramping in the lower abdomen
- wetter, clearer, and more slippery vaginal discharge similar to egg white
- a small increase in basal body temperature
- a higher sex drive
Some of these signs, such as basal body temperature, will continue to change after ovulation has occurred. For this reason, a person should not use temperature to predict the fertile window. It may be helpful for someone to track the signs over a few months to get an idea of what is normal for their body.
But they should keep in mind that there are several variables, and the timing of ovulation can change, month-to-month. Another option is to use an ovulation predictor kit or fertility monitor.
Fertility aids measure the levels of specific hormones in the urine to determine the ovulation day each month. Some devices also identify days of peak fertility. Using a combination of these methods may provide an individual with the best accuracy.
Lifestyle and fertility
To maximize the chances of becoming pregnant, a person should time sexual intercourse to occur during the 2 to 3 days leading up to, and including, ovulation. Sex during any of these days may provide a 20–30 percent chance of pregnancy.
Other tips to improve the chances of conception include:
- Have regular sexual intercourse: Pregnancy rates are highest among partners who have sex every 2 or 3 days throughout the month.
- Avoid smoking: Tobacco use reduces fertility and impacts the health of a developing fetus.
- Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol intake can reduce fertility in both males and females as well as harm a fetus.
- Maintain a normal weight: People who are overweight or underweight are more likely to have irregular ovulation.
Our doctors' will assess the couple’s overall health and may be able to identify methods to improve the probability of conception.
Fertility and Age
Ovulation and the fertile window can change from cycle-to-cycle, but they may also alter with age. Fertility naturally begins to decline in females from 35 years of age onward. The number of eggs and egg quality decrease with age. Ovulation may also become irregular. Some medical conditions, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, also make conception more difficult.
When to see a doctor
When to seek help sometimes depends on your age:
Up to age 35, most doctors recommend trying to get pregnant for at least a year before testing or treatment.
If you're between 35 and 40, discuss your concerns with our doctor's after six months of trying.
If you're older than 40, our doctor's may want to begin testing or treatment right away.
Our doctor's may also want to begin testing or treatment right away if you or your partner has known fertility problems, or if you have a history of irregular or painful periods (menstrual bleeding), pelvic inflammatory disease, repeated miscarriages, presents of uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts, prior cancer treatment, or endometriosis.
Causes for infertility or reduced fertility
- Ovulation problems
- Presents of uterine fibroids
- Poor egg quality
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Fallopian tube problems
- Unexplained infertility
- Poor sperm quality
- Premature ovarian insufficiency
- Absents of hetero sexual intercourse
All about fertility tests
Tests for men
Men should be offered a semen test to measure the quantity and quality of their sperm.
Tests for women
Fertility tests for women may include:
- Blood tests to check your fertility sexual hormone levels
- Test for Thyroid gland function
- Lipid profile test
- An examination to see whether your fallopian tubes are blocked.
Natural Ways to Boost Fertility
- Use our Herbal Medicine like Femitol and Laminarin for women
- And Metaprost and Spermastim for the man.
Maintain a healthy body weight to keep your hormones regulated: A healthy Body mass index (BMI) has been linked to increased fertility in both men and women. This is because your weight affects your body’s hormone production. Being overweight leads to decreased sperm production and testosterone in men and decreased frequency and consistency of ovulation in women. Talk to our doctors' to find a healthy weight for you and your partner, and do your best to reach and maintain it while trying to conceive.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for reproductive health: Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and also supports reproductive health for men and women. Daily exercise may help women have regular periods and ovulation, which can help with conception. Additionally, it may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Similarly, exercise can help increase a man’s sperm count and sperm mobility, which can help you conceive.
Eat a healthy diet by choosing lean protein and fresh produce: While there’s no specific diet for fertility, eating nutritious meals supports your overall reproductive health. Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean protein (such as fish and skinless chicken), and healthy fats. Limit your consumption of processed and sugary foods.
Get regular sleep to support your reproductive health: Inconsistent or irregular sleeping patterns can throw your hormones off balance, especially for women. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This keeps your schedule regulated and prevents your hormones from getting out of balance.
Stay still for 20-30 minutes after sex if you're a woman: This helps the sperm travel up into your uterus and fertilize your egg. After sex, lay on your back and stay in this position for 20-30 minutes before moving. This increases your chances of getting pregnant.