Getting Pregnant (part 1) : Ovulation Monitors and Other Tests, Your Partner’s Health and Fertility

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- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

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 luteinizing hormone.

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 fertility cycle.

• 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.

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