Fertility 101 – what you need to know
To set the scene for your Before Baby pre-pregnancy journey, we bust the biggest myths and misconceptions about fertility. Read on below!
It’s the most ‘natural thing in the world’, but that doesn’t mean getting pregnant is always easy. Here, we bust some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about fertility.
Myth – A woman’s age doesn’t impact fertility
No matter what you might have heard, age absolutely does have an impact on a woman’s fertility – in fact, it’s the single most important factor. Egg count and quality both decline as women get older, particularly after the age of 36. There’s also an increased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal variations through ageing – so that’s worth knowing.
Myth – Female age can be overcome by being fit and healthy
This is a very common misconception. Unfortunately, even the healthiest individuals who exercise regularly, eat well, etc. will still find that their egg count and quality declines as they age. Lifestyle factors can help boost your fertility, however, the number one factor that determines egg count and quality is age.
Myth – You can get pregnant at any point in your cycle
Here’s a fact that might blow your mind: women only have a 20 per cent chance of conceiving each month. The only time you can get pregnant are in the days leading up to ovulation – that’s before the egg is released from the ovary, not necessarily during ovulation itself.
Once the sperm are in the fallopian tubes, they can still successfully fertilise the egg for two to three days, ready and waiting for ovulation to occur. So to get pregnant, the best time to have sex is at least every two or three days during your pre-ovulation ‘fertile window’.
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It’s not always easy to figure out when you’re ovulating. At-home ovulation tests (available from pharmacies) or apps can be useful, but if you need a bit more help, we offer ovulation cycle tracking, blood tests to monitor your cycle as well as ovulation induction, a pill to bring on ovulation.
Myth – Fertility issues are usually due to a problem on the woman’s side
In 35 per cent of cases, infertility is caused by female factors, but in an equal 35 per cent, the issue is on the man’s side. In another 20 per cent of cases, it’s due to a combination of factors on both sides, and the remaining 10 per cent is unexplained.
For men concerned about their fertility levels, or if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while without success, it’s a good idea to get a semen analysis test to measure the number of sperm, their motility (ability to move), size and shape, volume and consistency.
You’ll notice that our initial fertility investigations normally include tests for both partners to identify any underlying causes of pregnancy delay.
Myth: Men remain fertile into old age
There’s a common misconception that men can continue fathering children well into their 60s, 70s and even 80s, but the reality is that a man’s age does contribute to infertility. Sperm quality declines with age, and the chance of ‘sperm DNA damage’ increases – which can cause complications in both pregnancy and after birth. That means it’s important to start thinking about fertility early, rather than assuming age won’t be a factor in your family plans.
Myth – You should ‘save up’ sperm so it becomes more potent
Ever heard someone say that a man should store up his sperm by limiting ejaculation? This is totally untrue. You actually need regular ejaculation so that the best swimmers are continually ready to fertilise the egg, so it’s a good idea to ejaculate every two to three days to improve sperm health and increase motility.