If you feel stressed or anxious about your ability to conceive, you are not alone. According to a study by Fertility and Sterility in 2014, 40% of women of all ages were concerned about their fertility. In the same study, 40% of women were unaware of the ovulation cycle and one-third were unaware of how obesity, irregular menses, and aging can affect procreative success. In this blog, we address some common misconceptions about fertility.
We can think of the menstrual cycle like a story. In the beginning, a woman gets a period and sometimes some cramps and a grumpy mood. Each day following the period, hormones are released that tell your ovaries to grow a “follicle”, which is like a water balloon with an egg inside. Once the follicle is big enough, another hormone tells your follicle to release the matured egg from the ovary and down the fallopian tube, where it has hopes of meeting the sperm to transform her into a viable embryo. Without sperm, the egg and uterine lining shed, and the story begins anew.
Ovulation kits are designed to detect the hormone called LH that releases the egg. The problem with this method is that once the test turns positive, the egg has already left the ovary, and the window has likely passed. The window lasts approximately 24-48 hours. It is more effective to use ovulation kits to anticipate when ovulation may occur, then introduce the sperm around this time.
Smoking cigarettes affects egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport and the uterine environment. In men, smoking can be the cause for lower sperm count, erectile dysfunction and other hormonal issues that can lead to infertility. Smoking increases the chances of miscarriage. The British Medical Association found smokers to have 10-40% lower fertility rate and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates 13% of infertility is due to smoking. Natural fertility can be improved and some smoking effects can be restored within a year of quitting.
Although men continue to produce sperm well into their senior years, it is more difficult for older men to conceive due to a decline in quality of semen quality, volume, and an increase in DNA fragmentation in the sperm. Older men are also associated with decreased sexual activity and erectile dysfunction.
These are a few misconceptions on infertility, and the field is always growing. More questions are answered everyday as we learn more about human reproduction and fertility. If you are having difficulty conceiving, talk to a fertility specialist about your situation and discover what options are available to you. At Donor Nexus, we specialize in embryo donation cycles and donor egg cycles.