“Am I infertile?” If your pregnancy tests have been nothing but BFNs (“big fat negatives”) for a while, it’s a natural question to ask. Fortunately, the right doctor may be able to help you achieve your TTC dreams, but how do you know it’s time to call up a fertility specialist?
Here are four major red flags to look for:
While the length of a woman’s fertility cycle varies from individual to individual, having an excessively long or irregular cycle may be a sign that you’re not as fertile as you could be. If you only have a handful of periods per year, that means’ you’re not ovulating every month -- which means you have fewer chances to become pregnant.
Many conditions can cause anovulation (a lack of ovulation) or oligoovulation (irregular or infrequent ovulation). Too much stress can cause hormonal changes that affect your cycle, for example. You may also have polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common endocrine disorder affecting about 10% of women. Either way, if Aunt Flo hasn’t been visiting as frequently as she should, it’s time to see a doctor.
Another leading cause of infertility in women is endometriosis, a condition that causes your uterine lining to grow where it shouldn’t, leading to pain and inflammation.
While mild to moderate cramping may accompany an otherwise healthy period, excessive pain is not normal, contrary to popular belief. Additionally, endometriosis can make sexual intercourse very painful. If your periods are making your life miserable, or having sex hurts despite plenty of foreplay and lube, call your doctor. Not only can a fertility specialist help you conceive if you have endometriosis, but your doctor can also help you manage the pain.
You know the phrase, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen?” Unfortunately, this seems to apply to sperm, as excessive heat can diminish sperm count and quality. Many careers can lead to prolonged exposure to sperm-killing heat, so if you think your swimmers might be suffering, it doesn’t hurt to call a fertility doctor and have a semen analysis done.
Even if you’re a woman with a cycle you can set your watch by, or a man who loves winter sports, you may still struggle to conceive a child on your preferred timeline. Remember that the sooner you see your doctor, the sooner you can treat any underlying issues that may be hurting your chances. Alas, nobody’s biological clock ticks forever, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Once you start trying to conceive, make your intentions known to your primary doctor, who can help guide you through the process and direct you where to go if you encounter any stumbling blocks. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than six months with no luck, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a fertility specialist. Remember that infertility is not your fault, and there is absolutely no shame in getting the help you need!
If you haven’t been conceiving as quickly as you expected to, it’s not necessarily a sign that you’re infertile. In fact, there are plenty of surprising factors that might be hurting your chances of conceiving, like inaccurately charting your cycle or even using the wrong personal lubricant.
Many over-the-counter lubricants impede sperm motility -- that is, they create an unfavorable environment for the sperm to swim through to meet the egg. Astroglide TTC is formulated for partners who are trying to become parents, with adjusted pH levels and a consistency similar to that of cervical fluid for a natural, fertility-friendly feel. TTC has been shown in studies to be compatible with sperm and eggs, so you can enjoy more comfortable sex while not impeding sperm motility.
To make sure your lube isn’t hurting your chances, look for TTC lubricant in these convenient locations, both in-store and online.
Images are for illustrative purposes only.