Begin

Where do I begin?

There are explanations and solutions for individuals with infertility. Often there is a medical reason for infertility which can be treated. Approximately 30% of the time a woman has a medical issue, 30% of the time the man has a medical issue, and 30% of the time both the man and woman need treatment.

Many women and men wonder when and if they should seek an infertility evaluation. Some have clues that they may be at risk for a problem sooner than that. For instance, if a woman has irregular menstrual cycles or an abnormally shaped uterus she may wish to speak with her doctor sooner and learn how that could impact her fertility, and whether further evaluations and treatments are necessary. Women who are 35 years of age and older may wish to seek medical advice after 6 months of trying. Sometimes men have medical conditions or workplace exposures that affect sperm production.

Many individuals will eventually have the children they want, some with little or no medical treatment. Some after many medical treatments may decide to learn more about assisted reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization, commonly called IVF.

How to begin for women

Two women talking

It is important to understand if you are releasing an egg from the surface of the ovary every month. There are some simple ways to begin to understand if you are ovulating regularly.

Most women have a 28 to 35 day menstrual cycle. In the first half of a woman’s cycle, a group of eggs mature to be ready for fertilization. By the middle of the cycle at least one mature egg is released off the surface of the ovary. The egg drops into the fallopian tube and it is here that fertilization can occur in the presence of sperm.

How can we predict if ovulation has occurred? A simple and inexpensive way to understand if a woman is ovulating regularly is to chart daily temperature. This method requires writing down
daily temperature on a special chart and using a sensitive oral thermometer called Basal Body Thermometer. This thermometer measures changes in body temperature as small as of a 1/10th degree. It is also available in digital form and available over the counter at any pharmacy.

It is important that a woman take her temperature after first awaking BUT before moving out of bed and hopefully the same time each day. Women are asked to chart daily temperature for 2-3 months. Your doctor will review your charts to understand if there is a problem with ovulation.

There is another tool, called an ovulation predictor kit, which can be used on a monthly basis. Ovulation predictor kits are available over the counter at any pharmacy.

How to begin for men

The most important single test for the man is a study of a sperm sample. This test aims to estimate the number of sperm in a sample. At least 1/3 of all couples who are experiencing infertility can find an answer in the semen analysis.

Many factors may affect production of sperm. For most men, there is variation in sperm production throughout their reproductive life. Some common exposures affect sperm production, medication use over the last 90 days, smoking, occupational exposures, alcohol, recreational drug use, and illness that produced a fever. Some men may have a varicocele, which is essentially a varicose vein in the scrotum, which also can affect sperm count and quality.

If abnormalities are detected on the semen analysis it is important to repeat the semen analysis in two-three months to see if there is an improvement. There are specialists who can help.

Two men talking

How to begin for men

The most important single test for the man is a study of a sperm sample. This test aims to estimate the number of sperm in a sample. At least 1/3 of all couples who are experiencing infertility can find an answer in the semen analysis.

Many factors may affect production of sperm. For most men, there is variation in sperm production throughout their reproductive life. Some common exposures affect sperm production, medication use over the last 90 days, smoking, occupational exposures, alcohol, recreational drug use, and illness that produced a fever. Some men may have a varicocele, which is essentially a varicose vein in the scrotum, which also can affect sperm count and quality.

If abnormalities are detected on the semen analysis it is important to repeat the semen analysis in two-three months to see if there is an improvement. There are specialists who can help.