Infertility - FAQs
A Multidimensional Approach to Infertility Management
A. Infertility is not being able to get pregnant after having regular sexual intercourse for at least 1 year without using any kind of birth control.
A. No, infertility is not always a woman's problem. In 40% of the cases the problem lies in females. Certain male factors can also contribute to infertility, accounting to another 40% cases. 10% of the cases are caused by a mixture of male and female factors and the remaining 10% by unknown factors.
A. The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant.
In some cases, an infertile woman may have symptoms like abnormal menstrual periods while an infertile man may have some signs of hormonal problems such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.
A. General health and lifestyle may affect fertility. Some common causes of infertility related to health and lifestyle include:
- Emotional Stress
- Excessive Caffeine Intake
- Medical conditions like Diabetes, Cancer etc.
A. You need to consult your doctor if -
- You and your partner have been trying regularly to conceive for at least 1 year (without using any birth control) and failed
- You plan to conceive and you're a woman older than 30 or haven't had a menstrual flow for longer than 6 months
- You have a history of :
- Irregular or painful menstrual cycles
- Pelvic pain
- Endometriosis (presence and growth of the tissue lining the uterus in places other than the uterus, e.g., in ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestine)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of the female uterus, fallopian tubes, and/ or ovaries) or repeated miscarriages
- Your partner has a low sperm count or a history of testicular, prostate or sexual problems
A. Timing the intercourse to get pregnant is the focus of most infertile couples who are trying to conceive. For this, you need to know some basic things about your monthly menstrual cycle.
The duration of a menstrual cycle varies from 21-35 days. The first day of the menses is called Day 1. Every month approximately in the middle of a 28-day cycle, i.e. around 13-14 days before menses, an egg is released from one of the ovaries (ovulation). This egg goes through a fallopian tube toward the uterus. If an intercourse has taken place around this time, the sperms enter through the vagina and meet the egg in the fallopian tubes (fertilization). If the fertilized egg gets attached to the inside of the uterus (implantation), pregnancy is said to have occurred.
Infertility can result from problems that interfere with any of these steps.
Sex, however, is more likely to result in pregnancy if it happens one week before and after the day of ovulation. This is called as fertile period.
A. The fertile period can be calculated as follows:
The shortest cycle minus 18 days gives the first day of the fertile period and the longest cycle minus 10 days gives the last day of the fertile period.
E.g. If a woman's cycle varies from 26 - 31 days, the shortest cycle minus 18 days (26 -18), i.e., 8 th day is the first day of the fertile period. And, the longest cycle minus 10 days (31-10), i.e., 21 st day is the last day of the fertile period.
Having an intercourse during this period may increase the chances of pregnancy.
A. After having an intercourse, some of the semen (the thick white fluid containing sperms that a male ejaculates) flows out of the vagina.
- Avoid any vigorous movement after an intercourse.
- Standing up after an intercourse can cause the semen to leak out.
- Try to wait for some time after sex before getting up and moving around.
- Try to keep the sperms inside your vagina longer. You can do this by putting a pillow under your pelvis (buttocks) to help tilt your body so the sperms can travel upwards easier.
- You can also lie down on your back with your legs folded up to the abdomen. This will ensure greater amounts of semen to stay in the vagina.
- Try to make sex enjoyable. Sometimes when a couple is trying to conceive it will affect the quality of their sex life. More enjoyable sex means higher sperm count and better quality of sperms.
- Taking vitamins and folic acid tablets prescribed by your doctor are very important if you are trying to conceive and during the course of pregnancy.
- Avoid urinating for some time to retain the semen in the vagina.
- Don't douche (introducing stream of water into the vagina) after having an intercourse. It can wash out the sperms that have just entered the uterus.
A. The best support often comes from loved ones and those closest to you.
Acknowledge your feelings: Suppressing your feelings does not help. Express them, allow yourself time to feel the sadness, anger and frustration.
Seek support: Talking with your friends, family or your partner who understands you, can help you feel less lonely.
Learning how to relax: Relaxing and learning how to calm yourself can help when feelings get intense, e.g., during treatments. Meditation and yoga are some possible ways to handle stress.
Talk to your partner: Talk about your feelings together. Men and women handle stress in different ways; men tend to hold things inside, while women are more likely to express their feelings. If you're trying to conceive as a couple, your partner may also feel stress, depression or anxiety and may not be able to provide all the emotional support you require right now.
Learn as much as you can: Ask your doctor about the different treatment options for infertility. Also know about alternatives like adoption or living child-free.
Don't let infertility take over your life: Try to fill your life and your relationship with things other than talking only about infertility.
Keep sex fun: Try to keep things loving and exciting rather than treating it like a duty. Light candles, play fun music, or watch romantic movies, whatever makes you and your partner feel good.
Vacation: Taking a vacation can refresh your mind and re-energize you which may help you both to reconnect as a couple.
Consider professional help: Many couples find that counseling by a doctor or a professional can help them cope with the emotional stress of infertility, and some fertility clinics insist that their patients seek counseling before and during treatment.
For more information, contact your doctor.