How do fertility tests work? Fertility tests measure different hormones to offer you insight into your fertility and overall hormonal health.
We at LetsGetChecked understand that the prospect of fertility testing can be daunting so we have detailed how fertility tests work in the simplest terms, as well as talking you through what you need to know when it comes optimizing your chances of getting pregnant.
- Fertility Facts
- What Is Infertility?
- What Causes Infertility?
- How Do Fertility Tests Work?
- How Is A Woman's Fertility Tested?
- How Is A Man's Fertility Tested?
- How Do You Increase Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant?
50 million couples suffer from infertility worldwide according to the Maternal Health Task Force.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a U.S. agency, 1 in 6 couples of a reproductive age experiences difficulties conceiving a child.
The National Fertility Association, Resolve, report that "a couple aged 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month."
Successful conception is 50% less likely among women in their 30s compared to women in their early 20s.
After six months of trying to get pregnant, 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance.
A minimum of 22% body fat is necessary for normal ovulation and conception.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility as defined by the World Health Organization as “the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” There are two types of infertility:
Primary infertility refers to couples who cannot conceive following one year of unprotected sex.
Secondary infertility refers to couples who successfully conceived in the past but are now unable to get pregnant successfully now.
What Causes Infertility?
Certain lifestyle factors such as heavy smoking, drinking and use of recreational drugs, particularly marijuana, are known to impact one’s fertility potential. Smoking marijuana has been shown to reduce sperm count and sperm quality significantly.
Excessive exercise can increase stress hormones (such as cortisol), which can reduce the amount of testosterone in your body, this in turn will reduce the amount of sperm being produced. The overproduction of cortisol in men and women causes adrenal hormonal imbalances and thus a decreased likelihood of healthy conception.
Any extremes in weight will negatively impact on one’s ability to fall pregnant. Being overweight or obese drastically lowers your ability to get pregnant. Women who are obese are twice as likely to suffer from a miscarriage. Being underweight in males or females also drastically lowers your ability to get pregnant.
25% of female infertility cases are caused by disordered ovulation.
90% of male infertility cases are caused by low sperm counts.
Over the past 40 years, the average sperm count has dropped almost 60%.
What are the symptoms of infertility in women?
- Inability to get pregnant for over one year despite regular unprotected sex.
- A menstrual cycle that lasts for over 35 days. (Too long)
- A menstrual cycle that is less than 21 days. (Too short)
- A period that is irregular or absent, this indicates that you are not ovulating.
- Menstrual bleeding is significantly heavier or lighter for over six months.
- Periods becoming more painful with heavy cramping, lower back pain and pelvic pain
What are the symptoms of infertility in men?
- Loss of libido
- Changes in hair growth, this may include hair thinning, balding or the cessation of bodily hair growth.
- Swelling and/or pain in the testicles
- Issues with achieving an orgasm, caused by an inability to acheive an erection or ejeculation
- Testicles becoming smaller
- Swelling in the scrotum (varicocele)
How Do Fertility Tests Work?
Most sex education classes in schools offer the idea that for a successful pregnancy, it’s simply a case of male sperm fusing with a female egg. However it is much more complex than that.
Factors that directly affect fertility include the age, quantity and quality of the sperm and eggs.
Females are born with one to two million “eggs in waiting” known as primary oocytes meaning that a woman’s eggs are the same age as her. With each menstrual cycle, the number of eggs in a female’s ovaries continuously declines. A woman’s eggs are the same age as her.
Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 24. From the age of 32, a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant starts to significantly decline. From the age of 40, a woman’s chance of conceiving is reduced by half. The quantity of the eggs doesn’t directly affect fertility, it is their age and quality that will determine the level of difficulty in getting pregnant.
Males are not born with ready-made sex cells. Instead they develop over time during puberty. Sperm develops and is stored in the testicles.
The average male can produce 525 billion sperm cells in a lifetime. It only takes one sperm to fertilize a woman's egg but the quality of that sperm and the quality of the egg it fuses with, will determine whether or not the pregnancy will be successful.
Following sexual intercourse, sperm travels from the tip of the penis to the cervix. The cervix is the entrance between the vagina and the womb. From there it can take 72 hours for the sperm to reach the egg.