1. Ovulation Monitors and Other Tests
You may be advised to use a test to
predict when ovulation occurs. Many are available. Ovulation test
sticks and test strips detect a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH). So
do other tests that test urine from the beginning of your cycle.
Most tests can be done at home and are
easy to use. All the tests work well if you have a fairly regular
menstrual cycle. But you need to be consistent in your testing.
If your menstrual cycle is not
regular, consider using a daily ovulation test. It provides testing for
20 days every month to help ensure you don’t miss a surge in
Your best chance of getting pregnant is actually the day before a surge in LH. The second best day is the day of the surge, and the third best day is the day after the surge.
Types of Tests
Today we’re lucky to have many tests
available to predict when ovulation occurs to help a woman conceive.
Below is a discussion of some ovulation-predictor tests available.
• The First Response Easy-Read Ovulation Test
may help you learn the most fertile time during your cycle. You use it
for 7 days, during the time you believe you’re ovulating, and it shows
the day you are most fertile.
• The Clear-Plan Easy Fertility Monitor
helps you track where you are in your menstrual cycle. All you have to
do is press a button at the start of a new menstrual period to begin
tracking your cycle. For 10 days during the cycle, you use a urine
sample to test hormone levels. The monitor judges where you are in your
• The Donna Saliva Ovulation Tester
uses your saliva to predict ovulation. In the 1940s, researchers found
the salt content of a woman’s saliva is the same as the woman’s
cervical fluid when she ovulates. Using this information, a test was
developed to help predict ovulation. Saliva is placed on the microscope
lens, and the crystallized pattern is examined after it dries. When a
woman is not ovulating, random dots appear; however, 1 to 3 days before ovulation, short hairlike structures can be seen. On the day of ovulation, a fernlike pattern appears which makes it easy to distinguish from the other patterns.
• OV-Watch is a device you
wear on your wrist, like a wrist watch, to help you find out when
you’re most fertile. The device measures the concentration of chloride
on your skin—chloride can be an indicator of increased fertility. When
you read the OV-Watch, it tells you whether you are fertile
(preovulation), ovulating, less fertile (after ovulation) or not
fertile. It is lightweight and worn at night. When you wake up in the
morning, you read the results. If you’re interested, ask your
healthcare provider about it.
• The TCI Ovulation Tester
measures the level of estrogen throughout your cycle by using a sample
of your saliva. Some saliva is placed on a slide, and when it’s dry,
you examine it with a small lens or eye piece. When your saliva has a
fernlike appearance, you’re fertile.
• The Ovulite microscope is
similar to the TCI test; however, it allows for unlimited testing of
your saliva. You sample your saliva daily, and when you see a change,
you know you’re ovulating.
Other Fertility Tests.
Home tests for men measure whether sperm is moving and provide an
approximate sperm count (sperm concentration). Sperm concentration is
one of the factors used by doctors to help determine male fertility.
One test for men is a home screening test called Baby Start.
It’s a quick test that looks at sperm concentration in semen. It
measures sperm as above or below the cutoff of 20 million sperm cells
per milliliter (ml). Two test results of less than 20 million cells/ml
may indicate male infertility.
Sperm concentration is one element used
to help determine fertility. However, because many additional factors
play a role in male fertility, a positive test result is not a
guarantee of fertility. It’s a screening test. If your partner uses
this test and results indicate a low sperm count, suggest he see a
urologist for further testing.
There’s a fertility test for couples to use at home; it is called Fertell
and contains tests for each partner. The tests measure the number of
sperm that can swim through mucus in the man and the level of
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a woman at a particular point in
her cycle. FSH is important in a woman’s ovulation and fertility. The
test is available without a prescription and costs about $100.
2. Your Partner’s Health and Fertility
Your partner can affect your ability to
get pregnant and may also have an impact on your pregnancy. We know
about 40% of all infertility problems can be placed directly on the
shoulders of the male partner.
Men have a biological clock. After age
30, a man’s level of testosterone decreases about 1% each year. Men
over 40 are at increased risk for infertility. In addition, if a man
fathers a child after he reaches 40, the child has a greater chance of
problems. Risks are even higher for men 55 and older.
Women who have a partner over age 40 have
an increased risk of miscarriage, no matter what the woman’s age. The
miscarriage rate for partners of men under 30 is about 14%. For men
over 45, that rate is over 30%!
If your partner’s parents underwent
fertility treatments to conceive him, he may have fertility issues.
Some problems in men born after fertility treatments include lower
sperm count, smaller testicles and fewer motile sperm.
Other things can impact on a man’s fertility. Below is a discussion of some of the elements that can affect a man.
Foods and Supplements
Your partner’s eating habits can affect
your chances of getting pregnant. Studies show men who eat and/or avoid
certain foods for at least 3 months may increase fertility.
Supplements can also affect fertility.
Your partner should take a multivitamin every day, especially one with
zinc. Avoid zinc supplements that contain cadmium, which can damage the
testes. Your partner needs an adequate intake of selenium, either in
the foods he eats or as a 60mcg supplement every day. Selenium-rich
foods include garlic, fish and eggs.
It’s important for a man to consume
folate (the folic acid found in food) before conception. One study
showed men who took in more than 700mcg each day from food sources
passed on 20% fewer chromosomal abnormalities. Good sources of folate
include asparagus, bananas, tuna and spinach.
Be careful with manganese—higher blood
levels have been found to lower sperm quality. Calcium supplements made
from seashells may be contaminated with metals.