Infertility: The Starters Gate

The Starters Gate

A few weeks ago we were at the county fair. While roaming around the exhibit buildings, we ran into a couple we sang with in choir a few years ago. Sheîs 40, heîs 30; theyîve been married over a year. They donît have kids, but would like to. When I asked her about it some time ago, she said they werenît having any luck. I inquired as to what they had tried, and she replied they were just -winging it.° I told her of my own infertility struggles and offered help as someone who writes about fertility issues as a profession, but she politely refused, saying -winging it° was just fine. It annoyed me a bit then, but when I saw them at the fair, and the look on her husbandîs face as he looked at my beautiful new baby, I boiled over inside.

I wanted to shout, -Stop screwing around!- (no pun intended) -Youîre 40 and the time for Îwinging itî has long passed!° I briefly thought of grabbing her shoulders and giving her a sound shaking, but, as sheîs a good 6 inches taller than I am, I reconsidered.

Seeing them made me ponder why this happens so often. I believe many women who would like to get pregnant, and yet are unable to do so by the so-called -wing it° method, would in many cases be helped by some uncommon, common-sense information. Thatîs why Iîm here today, to give you some basic information to help you get started. Since I canît come to your house and shake you, this will have to do. While this is by no means a comprehensive medical textbook (remember, I only *play* a doctor on the Internet), it might help you get out of the starting gate.

Ovulation

This is key. Find out when you ovulate; you may not know. Itîs not as cut-and-dried as it seems. While some are blessed with regular 28-day cycles, most are not. Some may have 20-day cycles, others 40-day. Some donît regularly cycle at all. And this is what you need to find out.

To do this, start with the basics ò a temperature chart** and a thermometer**. You need to get some information on your basal body temperature, or BBT. To get this, take your temperature at the same time every morning, before you get out of bed. Write it down. Your temperature should dip right before ovulation, and rise right after.

There are other factors such as mucous quantity and texture to be aware of, too. Personally, I recommend software to keep track of everything**. The one I use tracks cycles, mucous, temperature, and has space to record OPK results (more on that in a minute). It takes everything into consideration, and then suggests the best time to attempt conception. Itîs convenient, has spandy-nice graphics, and it worked for me.

OPKs, or Ovulation Predictor Kits**, are a fantastic invention. You take them just like a pregnancy test, and it indicates whether or not you are likely to ovulate within the next 48 hours. You can find these either online or at the drugstore.

Determining when you ovulate is of paramount importance. Even if you do need to see a doctor, this is the first thing he or she will ask you to do, so save yourself the hassle and a co-pay and have this done ahead of time. For you -average° 28-day gals out there: many people believe they ovulate on day 14. You might indeed, but keep in mind that itîs 14 days after your period *begins*, not ends (make adjustments by the day for different cycle lengths). This is one of the most common misconceptions (again, no pun intended) about ovulation, leading to many unplanned pregnancies for teenagers, and many missed opportunities for women trying to conceive.

Timing is Everything

Never has this axiom been truer than in trying for a baby. Now that you know when or even if you ovulate, itîs time to strike when the iron is hot, so to speak. Some people suggest trying every other day, I say, go for it daily in the days preceding and immediately following ovulation. Sperm can live up to 72 hours, so why not optimize their chances for success? Here are some things that might help you stack the deck.

Get Cough Syrup

Guiafenesin. What? Guiafenesin. This is a common ingredient in cough syrups that has the interesting side effect of thinning the cervical mucous, as well as the nasal mucous. Thinned mucous is an easier conduit for sperm to swim through toward its target, rather like the difference between swimming through apple juice as opposed to swimming through Jell-O. Iîm serious, people. Give it a try.***

I Donît Care if You Hate Broccoli

Ok, letîs all groan together. That being done, itîs time to look at both your own and your partnerîs diets. Caffeine bad, water good. Got it? Both of you should cut down dramatically on caffeine consumption. Go for herbal teas instead of caffeinated. Go for decaf coffee instead of high octane. Donît drink caffeinated pop. Yeah, yeah, it stinks, but if it works, isnît it worth it? Likewise itîs time to -86° the junk food and concentrate on a balanced diet replete with fresh vegetables and fruits, and keep the sugar to a minimum. High blood sugars donît make for easy conceptions, generally speaking. Itîs also a good idea to take Vitamin C and zinc supplements***. Exercise is also a benefit to your overall health and what benefits your general health benefits your fertility as well.

Assume the Position

All right. Now Iîll put on my sex therapist hat. After intercourse, remain on your back for 30 minutes, UNLESS you have a tipped uterus. Some say a tipped uterus is a myth, but Dr. Sandra, Sex Therapist, says -not so!° If youîve been told your uterus is tipped, or even if you havenît, try lying on your tummy for 30 minutes afterwards. Iîve told several people this hint, and itîs worked. I tried both ways, 15 minutes on each side, and found success. Now, some people tout different positions as being more successful than others. I canît speak to that, as this is a family article, folks, but I canît see any harm in trying different things. Besides, it might make the dreaded -procreational sex° a little less like cleaning the bathroom and a little more like making love.

What Next?

If after determining when you ovulate, changing your diet, and trying these little suggestions youîre still not pregnant, it may behoove you to make an appointment with a doctor. A good rule of thumb to look to is this: you may have an infertility issue if youîve been trying to conceive without success for a year for women younger than 30, and six months for women over 30. There are many infertility problems that can be corrected with the right diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes itîs even a simple thing.

This is obviously not the be-all-and-end-all of fertility articles. Itîs just a place to start. As always, see your healthcare provider before trying any new medications or supplements. Best of luck to you!

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