For some women, getting pregnant can be very difficult. Infertility is the commonest reason why a woman fails to get pregnant. Infertility is defined as the biological inability of an individual to contribute to conception. Some of the common causes of female infertility are ovulation problems, uterine problems, tubal blockage, previous tubal ligation and tuberculosis. Women are naturally fertile before and during ovulation. They are naturally infertile during the rest of the menstrual cycle.
Women who are planning to get pregnant should understand some basic concepts. According to a study by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, women are only fertile six days out of the entire monthly cycle. These days are the five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. This means that couples who only have sex once a week have less chances of having a baby. For women with consistent 28-day cycle, ovulation takes place 14 days after the first day of menstruation. Women can observe changes in their body temperature and cervical fluid to know if they are fertile. Women who are ovulating usually have high body temperature. When fertile, the cervical fluid will look and feel like raw egg whites.
When planning to get pregnant, women should discontinue using birth control pills or other contraceptive devices. They should also stop smoking. According to Dr. Frederick Licciardi, women who are smokers find it harder to get pregnant. Reducing stress will also increase the chance of conception. Women who are underweight or overweight should bring their weight to an appropriate level. A study from the University of South Carolina shows that majority of underweight and overweight women with fertility issues were able to get pregnant once they achieved their ideal weight. Coffee drinking should also be limited because some studies suggest that the excessive consumption of caffeine may contribute to infertility.
Fertility specialists recommend several tips for couples who are planning to have a baby. According to experts, the missionary position is more likely to get women pregnant as compared to other positions. The website WebMD does not recommend the use of artificial lubricants or lubricating oil during sex because they could kill the sperm. Dr. Allen Wilcox suggests having frequent sex during the fertility window. Another expert discourages using douche after sex because douche gets rid of the cervical fluid that the sperm needs to help them travel in the uterus.
When all natural options have been exhausted and yet a woman fails to conceive, she should consult a doctor specializing in obstetrics-gynecology (OB). An OB doctor may perform several tests to determine if a woman is infertile or has medical conditions that prevent her from getting pregnant. Tests that could be performed include blood test, ultrasound examinations, hysterosalpingography, ovarian reserve testing and genetic testing.
If conservative treatments fail, women can undergo assisted reproduction technology (ART) techniques. Some of these techniques include in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In IVF, egg cells are fertilized by the sperm in vitro, meaning outside the uterus. IVF involves hormonally controlling the ovulation, removing the eggs from the ovary, and fertilizing the eggs in a fluid medium. In GIFT, eggs are remove from the ovary and are placed in one of the fallopian tubes, along with the sperm. ZIFT is suggested in cases wherein the blockage in the fallopian tubes prevents the normal sperm-egg binding. Egg cells are removed from the ovary and are in vitro fertilized. Lastly, ICSI is an IVF procedure wherein a single sperm in injected into the egg directly.