For couples wanting to have a child it seems like it should be easy enough.Â Just enjoy the freedom of frequent, unprotected sex right?Â After all, getting pregnant is what you feared before you were ready, as if it would happen at the drop of a hat.Â However, today many couples are unsuccessful even after a year of trying.
For these couples educating themselves about the body and fertility has become a necessity.Â Here are some very important fertility terms to understand for anyone having trouble conceiving.
- Ovulation:Â This is when a mature egg is released from a follicle in the ovary and is ready to be fertilized by the sperm.Â This egg will only live 24 hours or less without being fertilized.Â To get pregnant it is critical to be able to know when you are ovulating and to time intercourse correctly.Â To do this you must understand the signs of your body that indicate ovulation is approaching or that confirm that it actually occurred.
- Anovulation:Â A menstrual cycle during which the ovaries do not release an egg.Â This means ovulation does not occur, and pregnancy is not possible.Â A woman may not ovulate and yet still bleed when she expected her period.Â However, this is not a normal cycle. Â You want to know if this is occurring for you, and how often.
- Fertile mucus:Â Cervical mucus is fluid produced by glands inside the cervix at the top of the vagina.Â It is the moistness you may feel on the lips of your labia or on your underwear.Â Take note of your cervical mucus every day and write down what you feel.Â As you approach your most fertile days it is known as fertile mucus, and becomes thicker and slippery.Â At the peak of fertility it is even stretchy, like egg whites.Â This occurs 1-2 days before ovulation, and is a critical indicator that you are most likely fertile.
- LH surge:Â LH stands for luteinizing hormone.Â The LH surge is when levels of this hormone rise, which triggers ovulation.Â Ovulation will occur within 12 to 36 hours of the LH surge.
- Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK):Â This is a test used to identify your LH surge.Â It is usually a stick that you pee on like a pregnancy test.Â A positive test indicates the rise in luteinizing hormone, known as the LH surge.Â Read the instructions carefully, as you must evaluate how dark the line is compared to the control.Â This is because LH is present in your urine every day and you are looking for the rise.Â This test is not foolproof, as it is possible to have a positive test and not ovulate.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT): This is the temperature of the body at rest.Â Take it with a basal body thermometer first thing in the morning before starting the day.Â Tracking your basal body temperature provides critical information to determine if and when you are ovulating.Â After ovulation your temperature will rise by at least 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Â This rise confirms that you have actually ovulated.Â If you do not have a clear pattern of lower temperatures, followed by a cluster of higher temperatures, then you are most likely not ovulating.Â If your temperatures stays up for 18 days and you have not had a period, you are most likely pregnant.
- Fertile Window:Â The days of the menstrual cycle during which intercourse is most likely to result in pregnancy.Â This window is typically 6 days, 5 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.Â Use your signs of fertility to identify these most fertile days and make sure to have sex.Â Many women think they can correctly identify these days, but do not.Â The critical signs of fertility include your fertile mucus, your LH surge and a rise in your basal body temperature.Â Track all three to get the best picture of your fertility.Â Any one by itself may not be accurate.
- Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG):Â This is a hormone produced by the fetal part of the placenta.Â hCG signals the body to continue to make progesterone, which is critical to maintain the pregnancy.Â hCG is the hormone detected by a pregnancy test to confirm that you are pregnant.
- Semen Analysis:Â This is the technical term for a sperm check.Â A semen analysis measures the amount of semen and the number (sperm count) and quality of sperm that a man produces.Â The quality of sperm includes the shape (morphology) and the motility (movement).Â Semen samples vary from day to day, so it is best to do a semen analysis 3 times over a 3 month period.Â Do not make assumptions about the manâ€™s fertility health from just one test.
- Infertility:Â The formal definition is the inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse if under age 35.Â If age 35 or older, infertility is assumed after 6 months of unsuccessfully trying to conceive.Â It is important to know that infertility is due to the man equally as often as the women, and often both.