How Do I Know if I’m Fertile Enough to Get Pregnant?
Pregnancy is an exciting prospect, but it also comes with doubts and concerns. Since 1 in 7 adults in the UK might struggle with their fertility, there are plenty of ways to test fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant. But don’t instantly blame yourself if you’re struggling to conceive; there are all manner of reasons why it might be difficult and a number of ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
So How Do You Know If You're Fertile?
Fertility can be affected by a huge range of factors, and sometimes, the cause is never fully uncovered, but there are certain factors that you can identify, and some that you can also control.
Signs of fertility include:
- Regular periods
- Healthy BMI
- Healthy reproductive system
- Under 35
Each affects the reproductive system but in different ways. Let’s look at each factor in detail.
Regular periods are a good sign of a healthy body and well-working reproductive organs; of course, you can still get pregnant without having a regular cycle, but your chances of conceiving are a lot higher if your cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days. With a regular cycle, your chances of ovulating in the ovulatory phase after your period are higher than if you have irregular periods, and much easier to identify as your ovulation day will always be around the same point each cycle.
If you don’t have periods at all, then you’re not ovulating so you won’t be able to conceive. Contraceptives like the IUD or implant can prevent you from ovulating, although your periods should come back within a couple of months after stopping or removing them. If you’re not using any contraception, there can be other reasons why you’re not ovulating, such as hormone imbalances, stress, the menopause or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). If you have very irregular cycles or have suddenly developed an irregular menstrual cycle, you should visit your doctor to learn the cause.
PCOS can both go undiagnosed for many women and be the cause of infertility, so it’s important to try to get a diagnosis from your doctor.
Fat cells produce a hormone called leptin which affects our menstrual cycle and thus our fertility. Having too much or too little fat can negatively affect your fertility as well as cause an irregular menstrual cycle.
Eating well and exercising will help regulate your menstrual cycle as well as provide a strong basis for a healthy pregnancy.
Healthy Reproductive System
PCOS isn’t the only condition that can affect fertility and your reproductive organs, there are several possibilities that can prevent someone from getting pregnant, including:
- Thyroid dysregulation
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Undiagnosed Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Although most of these conditions cause clear symptoms such as weight gain, pain and unusual periods, some sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia can spread to the reproductive organs and lower your chances of fertility without any symptoms. For this reason, you should take regular sexual health checks if you’re having unprotected intercourse with multiple partners, or if you’re having difficulty getting pregnant.
Some symptoms of conditions affecting your fertility include:
- Heavy periods
- Irregular, long or absent cycles
- Severe period pain
- Pelvic or vaginal pain
Not all conditions have obvious symptoms and can be easily missed by us as well as doctors, so protect yourself well and if you suspect something is wrong, visit your doctor.
With 83% of women in the UK reporting feeling overwhelmingly stressed at some point in the year, it’s clear we have a problem with stress and it’s certainly not simple enough to tell people to eradicate stress from their lives. However, stress is a strong physiological feeling that keeps your body in constant alert and reduces the levels of reproductive hormones in your system to focus on your own survival.
If you can’t reduce your work, home, financial or health stresses, then the best course of action is to improve your stress-handling methods. Try meditation, mindfulness, exercise, or simple additions like stress balls and breathing techniques to help you calm down in high-pressure scenarios and remove anxious feelings.
Smoking has a huge impact on your overall health, including your reproductive health. Smoking fills your body with many dangerous toxins that cause cell damage relating to different types of cancer as well as the health of your eggs. What’s more, smoking changes hormone levels!
Hormones involved in your reproductive system like oestrogen and progesterone are altered by smoking, while nicotine can be directly related to the reduction of cilia in your Fallopian tubes which help push the eggs to the uterus. This can increase the chances of complications during pregnancy, such as a foetus growing in your Fallopian tubes, known as an ectopic pregnancy.
Quitting smoking can be challenging due to the chemical nature of the addiction, but there are ways to get help.
Women tend to be having babies later in life nowadays as they’re able to focus on careers, travel or simply enjoy their young lives fuller, however, past the age of 35, getting pregnant can be more difficult.
After the age of 35, you have fewer eggs and their energy gradually decreases, which is crucial in developing the embryo. Therefore, it’s not impossible to get pregnant after 35, but it will become more difficult as you get older, so if you’re over 35 and you’ve been trying to extend your family but have been unsuccessful so far, you should speak to a doctor about your options.
Signs You’re Ovulating
While you may tick all of the boxes for a healthy and fertile woman, you may still not be getting pregnant because you’re not having sex at the right time in your cycle. It’s important to know when you’re ovulating, so you can have intercourse in the run-up to your ovulation day to increase your chances of conception.
Some symptoms of ovulation include:
- Vaginal discharge; clear and like egg white
- Rise in basal body temperature (BBT)
- Increase in sex drive
- Pelvic pain
Not every woman will experience all of these symptoms, even if they have a regular period, and those with irregular periods may not be able to identify patterns in their symptoms from cycle to cycle. Everyone’s different. But you can track your symptoms by taking your BBT every morning and noting any other changes in your body or mood in a calendar or period tracking app.
However, the best way to know when you’re ovulating so you know when to time your intercourse is by taking an ovulation test.
How Do Ovulation Tests Help?
Instant ovulation tests work by testing your urine for luteinizing hormone (LH). As oestrogen rises at the end of your period, your body undergoes an LH surge which causes your body to release an egg for fertilisation. The ovulation test is thus able to accurately inform you of when you’re entering your ovulatory phase so that you can start having sex.
When trying for a baby, you should start having sex 4 to 5 days before your expected ovulation date so the sperm can wait in the female reproductive organs until the egg is released, increasing chances of fertilisation.
Whether you have regular or irregular periods, ovulation tests can be a useful way of staying on top of your cycle and ensuring you don’t miss your fertile window.
How to Increase Chances of Pregnancy
If you have a medical condition such as PCOS, your doctor is the best person to advise on your fertility options, however, if you’ve identified yourself as having one of the above issues, then you could make a lifestyle change to make conceiving easier. Whether that’s stopping smoking (or drinking to excess), losing weight or timing your intercourse with your fertile window, making just one change can drastically increase your fertility.
Why Trust Us?
At Official Rapid Tests, we understand the importance of getting results back speedily and confidentially and leaving our customers satisfied, thanks to our excellent laboratory management software.