A woman’s fertility depends on her menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle changes are caused by hormones, substances produced by the body to control certain functions. During each cycle, hormones cause the lining of the uterus to build up and an egg to mature in a follicle – tiny clusters of cells in the ovaries. When an egg is mature, it is released from the ovary. This process is called ovulation.
Average menstrual cycles last about 28 days, however, cycles of 23-35 days are normal and may vary month to month. You may wish to keep a diary of your cycle, counting from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. This will help track your normal ovulation cycle – and it can also help to better determine a due date for the baby if you do become pregnant.
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Strictly from a medical perspective, if your ovaries are functioning and your egg supply is intact, this is possible.
I suggest asking your gynecologist for a referral to a reputable fertility specialist or clinic. Then make an appointment for both you and your fiancйe to go in for a consultation. You need to learn about everything that would be involved before you each decide whether this is something you want to pursue.
Ovulation problems cause infertility!
Over exercise and emotional stress can lead to irregular or abnormal ovulation. The female body is not able to develop eggs for fertilization. The strenuous exercise hampers the normal production of hormones.
The stimulation necessary for eggs to develop is not done. Stress especially emotional strain can also hinder the production of estrogen and gonadotropin. These hormones are all needed to develop eggs for ovulation.
In fact eggs may be present in the ovarian follicles but if the leutinizing hormone is not made plentiful the eggs cannot be conducted to the distal end where they are fertilized.
Anovulation is a term that means the absence of ovulation. This is an abnormal condition because the eggs are not fully developed and are not released for fertilization outside of the ovary via the fallopian tube.
This section details the female reproductive system and processes including, menstruation and ovulation. A thorough understanding of these processes will assist in your quest to increase fertility and conceive a child.
The passageway from the exterior of the female body to the cervix is known as the vagina. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus -the organ where the egg, once fertilized, attaches and develops to maturity. The uterus is lined with a nutrient rich membrane known as the endometrium (this is the lining that is shed whenever conception does not occur). Extending from either side of the top of the uterus are the fallopian tubes. The tubes connect to the ovaries, two small organs that produce eggs and the female sex hormone, estrogen.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions lead to answers and answers lead to peace of mind when your fears and uncertainties are released.
2. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, preferably bottled water since it is of better quality. This may seem like a lot but your body needs it since it is working really hard to make the fluid the baby lives in. This fluid is constantly reabsorbed and renewed. Water also nourishes and rinses every cell of your body.
3. Eat foods that contain iron. Your baby loves iron as iron promotes normal growth and development of the brain. Some natural sources include raisins, figs, dates, dried peaches, raw spinach, kale (all dark leafy green vegetables). Natural sources of iron are much better than a supplement. How many people know that you shouldn’t cook spinach? Raw or lightly steamed is best.
Is BBT charting of any use?
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) chart
During the luteal phase of the cycle, the corpus luteum produces the hormone progestrone, which elevates the basal body temperature. When the basal body temperature has gone up for several days, one can assume that ovulation has occurred. However, it is important to remember that the BBT chart cannot predict ovulation – it cannot tell you when it is going to occur!
The basal temperature chart can be a useful tool. It allows the patient to determine for herself if she is ovulating as well as the approximate date of ovulation, but only in retrospect. Basal body temperature charts are easy to obtain and the only equipment required is a special BBT thermometer.
Fertility means ovulation of the egg!
Ovulation ends with the release of the egg from the follicle into the fallopian tube. In fact it is more a beginning because the egg travels through the fallopian tube to the distal end to wait for fertilization.
The egg must be fully matured to undergo the ovulation process. This is the signal to start the making of leutinizing hormone (LH), which conducts the matured egg from the ovarian follicle all the way to the fallopian tube passage.
The ready egg is ushered to the point of fertilization. It is again the hypothalamus that begins the procedure. The pituitary gland receives the signal and produces the leutinizing hormones in a big dose.
The follicle, which developed the egg, is transformed to a hormone producer once the egg is matured and released. This development process includes many eggs, which mature with the help of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Besides age, other ‘new’ complications can cause secondary infertility. One problem that may be overlooked is male factor infertility. Although age is not as important to male fertility as it is to female fertility, there are changes that can take place in sperm quality over a period of one or two years. Therefore, just because your male partner had optimal sperm quality a couple years ago, doesn’t mean that he does today, when you are trying to have a second child. There are many reasons for a decline in male fertility, so consider the following scenario:
Secondary infertility is a medical term that means a couple is unable to conceive and deliver a child after one has been born previously. As strange and unexpected as it may seem, secondary infertility is not all that uncommon. It is estimated that as many as 3.3 million American couples have secondary infertility! This is quite an extraordinary number, considering that Secondary Infertility may occur even more frequently than primary infertility (inability to have a first child). These statistics hopefully provide a bit of comfort – knowing that you are not alone, that there are numerous other couples who are faced with this very baffling situation.
The Uterine Factor
The uterine factor refers to any abnormalities of the uterus or the uterine lining that may interfere with implantation of the embryo and/or maintenance of the pregnancy. The uterus must be capable of responding to hormonal stimulation from the ovaries and capable of preparing an endometrium that is thick and healthy.
A conventional test to assess uterine functionality is an x-ray test called a hysterosalpingogram. During this test, dye is injected through the cervix, in order to visualize the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test can be helpful in identifying uterine abnormalities such as fibroids, abnormally shaped organs, and a defect resulting from DES exposure in utero known as a “T-shaped uterus.” All of these problems may contribute to problems with implantation or maintenance of the pregnancy. Another test to assess uterine functionality is a hysteroscopy. In this procedure, a small telescope is inserted in the uterus to allow direct visualization of the cavity. Many abnormalities can be treated through the hysteroscope.
A thorough infertility work-up evaluates five fertility factors: The Cervical Factor, the Male Factor, the Ovulatory Factor, the Uterine Factor, and the Pelvic Factor. Once these factors are correctly assessed, a fertility treatment plan can be chosen. Typically, a systematic evaluation of all the fertility factors can be completed in three menstrual cycles. A complete evaluation is important to prevent unnecessary procedures, and to avoid wasting precious time. The following section describes each of the factors important for women:
The Cervical Factor
The ability of the cervix to nurture and transport sperm into the upper female reproductive tract is known as the cervical factor. In the “normal” female, the cervix produces large amounts of clear watery mucus just prior to ovulation. After ovulation, the mucus thickens and inhibits sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes, and hence, the egg.