Monitoring Your Fertility

When you’re trying to conceive, sex may not be so much about pleasure anymore as it is about timing. Using a fertility chart to track your periods is a simple way of predicting your most fertile days. However, it can involve some guesswork as to just when you’re ovulating and when the best time to have sex is. To help women, a variety of fertility monitors have been developed to help maximize your potential for conceiving.

Knowing When
Women have a 12-hour window in which they can conceive once they’ve ovulated. Therefore, it is important to get your timing just right. There are a variety of gadgets on the market that can help you out in this area.

  • Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Thermometers: While it’s not a complicated procedure to take your BBT temperature, you have to do it first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. So you can’t run to the toilet and then come back to pop the thermometer in your mouth. A BBT thermometer measures your body’s core temperature. When you ovulate, your core temperature rises by half a degree to a full degree because of the extra progesterone in your body. Although your temperature can fluctuate throughout the month, a sustained rise in body temperature lets you know that ovulation has occurred. Since you learn about your ovulation occurring after the fact, it is best to pair this method with a fertility calendar so you can chart your cycles for a few months. Soon you will see an ovulation pattern emerge.

  • Lutenizing Hormone (LH) Testing Kits: These kits measure the LH levels in your urine. A surge in your levels indicates that ovulation is about to occur. However, these kits do not last forever so check the expiration date on the box before you buy it – using a kit that is past its prime could compromise the results of your tests. Generally, the kits are good for two years from the date of manufacturing. The kits come with a dipstick that you hold in your urine. The dipstick will then change color, which you compare to a test line provided in the kit. When a surge has occurred, it means that ovulation will happen in 24 to 48 hours, so you should have unprotected sex with your partner now. Sperm can live in your system for up to 72 hours and your egg has only 12 hours in which it can be fertilized. To get the most accurate results with this test, be sure to follow the instructions exactly and do the test at the same time everyday.

  • Electronic Monitoring Devices: Just as your home computer and palm pilot have electronically simplified your life, so do electronic fertility devices. Although they are more expensive than BBT thermometers and LH testing kits, these gadgets may be worth the price tag if you find other fertility monitoring methods too complicated. These devices ask you for the tests that they need when they need them and they interpret the results of those tests for you!
    In addition to measuring your LH levels, electronic fertility monitors will assess the level of estrogen in your body. A rise in your estrogen levels indicates that your LH surge is just around the corner. Not only can you know when you’re about to ovulate, these devices will actually indicate your low, high and peak times for ovulation. Not surprisingly, many women also employ electronic fertility devices to help them effectively prevent pregnancy.

  • Cervical Mucus Test: The consistency of your cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle and can indicate when you’re about to ovulate. If you’re feeling brave, then reach in and pullout some of the mucus in your cervix. To tell if ovulation is going to occur soon, spread your fingers. If the mucus can stretch at least three inches without breaking, then your body is about to release an egg. If you plan to rely on this method as your ovulation indicator, then it is best to receive some professional training by your doctor to make sure you’re getting the technique right.

What About The Men?
There are few at-home tests available that have the ability to indicate if a man’s body is making sperm correctly. Currently, the only home male infertility test on the market is one that assesses a man’s sperm count. Since professionals often use sperm concentration as an indicator for male infertility, this test can be helpful in alerting you to a problem with your partner sooner.

The test works by using a dye to stain the sperm provided by your partner, thereby changing the color. You then compare the color with the color reference code provided in the kit. A positive test means that your partner’s sperm count is over 20 million/ml while a negative indicates that his sperm count is below this and therefore low. However, you partner could have a healthy sperm count but still have problems with his sperm or reproductive organs, so if you decide to go for professional fertility testing, don’t forget to have him checked out, too.

Getting The Best Results
Before you start using your BBT thermometer or electronic fertility monitoring device, make sure your read all the instructions thoroughly and carefully. If you don’t understand some part of the instructions, then call the manufacturer. Most companies provide a toll-free number customers can call for help. Unfortunately, not doing the fertility monitoring properly can result in false results, which will not be helpful in getting you pregnant.

It’s always a good idea to use these monitoring devices with a fertility chart so that you can clearly see your ovulation patterns emerge. But fertility testing kits may not always be useful. If you and your partner have been having regular, unprotected sex for a year, then don’t waste your money on these tests. Instead, make an appointment with your doctor for professional fertility tests instead.


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