Looking for options for increasing fertility but don’t know where to start?
If you’re infertile or suspect you are, looking at your testing and treatment options can be confusing. On top of that, it can also be emotional—leading you to become overwhelmed quickly.
In this guide, we’re breaking down tests for fertility and your treatment options: both lifestyle and medical.
Keep reading to learn 11 fertility aids for women and men.
First Step: Tests for Fertility for Women and Men
If you’ve been trying to conceive without success, you may wonder if you or your partner are infertile. Experts say you should see your doctor if you haven’t conceived within 1 year of trying. If you’re older than 36, doctors recommend waiting only 6 months before talking to a healthcare professional. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women 40 and older get evaluated now. To find any potential infertility causes, both partners should be tested.
To start, your doctor will ask you and your partner a series of questions. From there, you may undergo one or a series of tests. To test for fertility, doctors use a variety of methods.
Fertility Tests for Women
Fertility tests for women may include any of the following:
- Urine test to check for luteinizing hormone (LH)
- Transvaginal ultrasound to check health of reproductive organs
- Blood test to check for the hormone progesterone or thyroid problems
- Self-checking basal body temperature
- Hysterosalpingography (a type of X-ray) to check your uterus and fallopian tubes
- Ovarian reserve testing to check quality of eggs
- Genetic testing to check for genetic factors or problems
- Imaging tests and other procedures to check for diseases
Depending on your situation, your doctor may order other fertility tests for women
Male Fertility Test
A male fertility test may include any of the following:
- Semen analysis to analyze sperm count and quality
- Blood test to check hormone levels, like testosterone
- Testicular biopsy to check for abnormalities
- Genetic testing to check for genetic factors or problems
- Imaging and other procedures to check for abnormalities or problems
Depending on your partner’s situation, their doctor may order additional male fertility tests.
Sometimes, fertility tests determine the cause and your doctor can tailor your treatment accordingly. However, many couples don’t know why they’re infertile. In about 5 to 10% of couples, tests come back normal and there’s no obvious cause, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. In even more cases, doctors find a cause but it’s not severe enough to cause infertility—leaving the doctor stumped. The good news is that even without a known cause, fertility doctors can still recommend treatments.
5 Lifestyle Fertility Aids for Women and Men
Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes for increasing fertility. That may include:
#1 Stop Certain Medication
If a medication is interfering with your or your partner’s infertility, your doctor may find an alternative (never stop a medication without medical advice).
#2 Cut Back/Stop Drinking or Other Drugs
Although not conclusive, there’s some evidence that drinking may affect fertility for both men and women. For example, heavy alcohol consumption may lead to decreased hormone production and sperm quality in men. To learn more, read Alcohol and Conception: Should You Stop Drinking?
#3 Improve General Physical Health
Although there’s no one magic bullet, your overall health affects your fertility. Nutrition and physical health contribute to your weight and body function. Make sure to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
#4 Improve General Mental Health
Long-term, chronic stress can also impact your overall health, possibly affecting your fertility. Make sure not to blame yourself though; a bad day won’t cause infertility. A long-term stressful situation may impact both a woman’s and a man’s fertility but research is inconclusive. Although not a surefire solution, anyone experiencing mental health challenges should talk to their doctor about therapy or counseling. Read 9 Ways to De-stress While Trying to Conceive
#5 Find Fertility Window
One of the best lifestyle fertility aids for women is to track their fertility window. Your fertility window means the days you can get pregnant each month. It refers to the 5 days before ovulation when pregnancy is possible. Having sex on those days gives you the highest likelihood of success. Since ovulation changes each month, so does your fertile window. To find your fertility window, you need to track it.
Your doctor may recommend tracking your fertility window before seeking additional treatment. It’s also suggested while using medical fertility aids for women, like hormone medication.
6 Medical Fertility Aids for Women and Men
When lifestyle fertility aids for women don’t work, your doctor will recommend medical solutions for increasing fertility. They may recommend any of the following fertility aids for women or men. If one method doesn’t work, they may suggest another.
#1 Fertility Pills or Injections
After lifestyle changes, fertility drugs are often the first recommended fertility aids for women. Depending on the fertility pill or injection, it may be used to increase hormones, regulating or stimulating ovulation, required for conception. Medication can also increase egg production and development, increasing fertility.
People with unexplained infertility may have success with fertility drugs. Even though an issue may be difficult to diagnose, it may be treated by a fertility drug.
How you take medication fertility aids for women depends on the specific drug. For example, Clomid is taken orally for 5 days and stimulates ovulation about a week later. Injections can be given alone or alongside oral medication for about 7 to 12 days in a row. These injections are typically done at home with the help of a partner.
Fertility pills and injections are among the lowest cost and least invasive medical fertility aids for women. On the downside, medications can have side effects, like mood changes, fatigue, and headaches.
#2 Fertility Medication for Men
Fertility treatment for men may also require medication. Low sperm count and quality can be improved by oral drugs. For example, Clomid, often prescribed to women, is also used off-label for men. The medication can help men with low testosterone levels.
#3 IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is one of the most common medical fertility aids for women and is usually tried when other treatments don’t work. IVF can be used for infertility caused by ovulation, fallopian tube, sperm problems and more.
IVF is complicated and requires multiple steps:
- Take fertility medication to stimulate ovulation
- Undergo small procedure to collect eggs
- Eggs are fertilized with sperm in the lab
- Undergo procedure to transfer developed embryo into the uterus
- Continue pregnancy as normal
Comparing IVF to IUI, IVF is significantly more expensive, but it has a higher success rate. In one study among patients under 35, 54% succeeded with IVF while only 13% succeeded with IUI. Another benefit of IVF is that unused embryos can be frozen for a future pregnancy.
#4 Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another choice for medical fertility aids for women. Instead of sperm needing to travel to your uterus, it’s given a head start.
During an IUI procedure, the sperm is inserted into your uterus. If successful, fertilization occurs and the embryo implants itself. (This differs from IVF, where fertilization happens in a lab and the embryo is later inserted.)
Although IUI is much less expensive than IVF, its success rates are lower.
IUI is often combined with fertility drugs. Insemination is also a choice for those with unexplained infertility. If couples with unexplained infertility don’t conceive with medication or IUI within 3-6 months, IVF may be recommended.
Surgery may be required depending on the cause of your or your partner’s infertility. The specific surgery depends on the problem. For example, women with endometriosis may require surgery as a fertility treatment. For men, surgery can repair issues, like removing a sperm blockage.
#6 Third-Party Reproduction
Third-party reproduction involves donated eggs or sperm. The exact procedures depend on the situation and may include IUI or IVF. For example, an infertile woman in her 40’s may be able to successfully carry and deliver a child when she uses donor eggs. In other situations, a couple donates eggs and/or sperm for another woman to carry and deliver their child.
Summary: Increasing Fertility with Fertility Treatments
If you’re looking for ways of increasing fertility, start with lifestyle changes. Learn how to find your fertility window to improve your chances. If you suspect you may be infertile, talk to your doctor to get tested. There’s several medical fertility aids for men and women. Medication, IVF, IUI, surgery and third-party reproduction are options. A fertility doctor can help you determine which treatments are best for you and your partner.
P.S. After you get pregnant, hear the first beats using a fetal doppler! Starting around week 12, you can detect and hear your baby’s heartbeat from home. Many find it a reassuring and rewarding experience.
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