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Curious About Your Fertility?

August 9, 2022
Miranda Obryan

Listen to your instincts; we all have them. Without them, we likely wouldn’t have made it this far as a species on this planet. Survival instincts protect you from pain and danger, while reproductive instincts encourage procreation–ensuring the long-term survival of humans. It’s the natural cycle of life; primitive instincts drive the survival of the human species. That’s why you’ve always been curious about your fertility. This blog is part of a four-part series where we explore everything you’ve always wondered about your fertility.

This series includes:

  1. Curious about your fertility?
  2. How can I test my fertility at home?
  3. How do I read my fertility results?
  4. What do I do if my fertility test comes back abnormal?

What is Fertility?

Fertility is your natural ability to reproduce; in other words, to conceive and give birth to new life. In its basic form, fertility is the ability to have sex that results in the uniting of sperm and egg, brought to fruition as a newborn child. It’s a natural instinct to have the desire to reproduce, just like it’s a natural instinct to eat food to survive. That’s why it can be so devastating when you are unable to get pregnant.

When you consider all of the factors required to produce new life, it’s a miracle that couples are able to become pregnant at all. Both parties play a role in fertility. You cannot conceive if one of the two is not fertile.

For a woman to be fertile, that means her body has to:

  • Store healthy eggs in the ovaries
  • Ovulate, or release a healthy egg, before sex
  • Maintain a healthy uterine lining for the fertilized egg for implantation and nourishment
  • Produce hormones to maintain the pregnancy

For a man to be fertile, his body has to:

  • Store healthy sperm in the testicles
  • Release healthy sperm, in adequate quantities, during sex

When Am I Most Fertile?

To complicate matters even further, you may have heard that you’re only fertile during certain times of the month. That’s true for women, who comprise half (or arguably more than half) of the equation. A woman’s body is only fertile during ovulation, when the egg is released into the fallopian tube, awaiting fertilization. This period is called the fertile window.

To increase your chance of conceiving, it’s best to have sperm waiting in the fallopian tube before ovulation happens. There’s only a brief period of 12 to 24 hours from the time the egg is released for it to unite with sperm. Since sperm can live for up to five days inside a woman’s reproductive system, that leaves you a fertile window just short of a week.

There are about six days each month that a woman’s body is most fertile. Your body works in cycles, so your ovulation takes place on a cyclical basis. For most women, the entire menstrual cycle takes 28 days to complete–from the first day of each period to the next. Ovulation calculators can help you determine which days you’re most fertile each month and can be adjusted based on your average cycle length. It works like this:

  • Day #1: Start of your period
  • Day #9: Fertile window begins
  • Day #14: Ovulation (egg released into fallopian tube)
  • Day #14: Fertile window ends

Related: Natural Birth Control: Fertility Awareness 

How Common Is Infertility?

As you can see, fertility is complicated. There’s a multitude of factors that must align in order for conception to happen. So, if you’ve struggled to get pregnant as quickly as you had hoped, you’re not alone. Or maybe you haven’t tried, but are a little surprised that you haven’t had an unplanned pregnancy by this point in your life–leaving you wondering if you’re infertile after all. Should you be worried when the time comes to try? Are there things you can do to be proactive in your fertility? These are all valid questions.

Even if you have no signs or risk factors for infertility now, you might still be curious. Nearly 20 women out of 100 women without children continue to see negative pregnancy test results after a full year of unprotected sex. Sadly, infertility is a common problem for couples. Some factors can increase your risk of infertility, validating your need to find out now whether you are fertile. Some risk factors for infertility include:

  • Age: Over 30 years old
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Over or under-weight
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • History of STDs
  • Family history of infertility
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Menstrual abnormalities

Whether you have any of these risk factors or not, you still want to know more about your fertility. The good news is, there’s a way to find out. You can skip the one-year wait that most doctors will require with Orchid at-home fertility testing.

Summing Up

Your curiosity about your fertility is healthy; it’s instinctive. You can ease your mind today with at-home fertility testing, which can give you definitive answers about the mystery of your fertility. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide professional-grade at-home fertility testing to our patients. Our next article will cover how to test your fertility at home.

 

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