What Women Need to Know About Fertility
Education and Advocacy Thinking about having kids one day? Dr. Sonya Kashap, an egg freezing specialist, shares her knowledge on fertility and how to conceive.
Knowledge is power
These days we track our diets, fitness, and sleep cycles. I believe we deserve to be equally informed about our fertility. See your family doctor or a local fertility specialist to assess your ovarian reserve through blood tests such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and an antral follicle count (AFC) ultrasound. Fertility is a “functional” diagnosis, so until you try, you don’t know if you will have difficulty — regardless of whether the numbers are high or low. However, earlier knowledge about low numbers may be useful information for family planning.
Whatever “ready” means for you, getting pregnant will be easier when a woman is younger. If you know you might have trouble — for example: endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, a history of tubal disease, or sexually transmitted infection — seek help sooner. It is true that 40 percent of fertility involves male factors, but the reasons are different.
Be proactive: the “fertility gender gap” is real
For women, our eggs are our age — and our fertility declines with age. Men produce new sperm, so their sperm is only two months old. These days, egg freezing can help to prolong fertility until you are ready. But be aware that egg freezing is not a guarantee. Success rates vary by age, clinic, and situation.
When you are trying to conceive naturally, the best advice I give to my patients is to try naturally. Put away the ovulation sticks, basal body temperature charts, and mucus testing. If your cycles are regular, you are ovulating. The egg lives for 12-24 hours and the sperm live for three days. Therefore, regular intercourse every two or three days without the use of sperm-killing lubricants gives the best chances. If your cycles are irregular or you have no success after 6-12 months, seek help.