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Infertility: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Infertility means that you have not been able to get pregnant after trying for at least 1 year. It does not mean you will never get pregnant.

A woman's chances of getting pregnant are higher when she is younger. A woman is most able to get pregnant (fertile) in her late 20s. Then, in her mid-30s, she becomes less fertile. This is because her eggs get older.

If you are younger than 35, you may want to give yourself more time to get pregnant. If you are 35 or older, you may want to start treatment.

It can help to learn more about when you have the best chance of getting pregnant. For most women, there are five days a month when they are most likely to get pregnant. This is the time when an egg is released. This is called ovulation.

Ovulation usually happens 12 to 16 days before your next period begins. You can figure out when you ovulate if you write down for a few months when you start and end your periods. Then you can count how many days are between the first day of your periods. This amount of time is called your cycle. The average cycle is 28 days. But some women have cycles that are a little shorter or longer.

After you know how long your cycle is, you can predict when your next period will start. And then, you can count backward from that day to know when you will ovulate next. Your doctor may also suggest a home ovulation test. This test can tell you when you are ovulating.

Infertility can be caused by a problem with the reproductive organs of a woman, a man, or both. Your doctor can help you find out what kind of problem you may have.

It's important to talk about testing and treatment choices with your doctor. If you choose to do some tests, you will probably start with a hormone test. This is a test for both of you. And then the man will probably have a semen test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

For women

  • Take a multivitamin with folic acid. This helps to prevent birth defects if you do become pregnant.
  • Get regular exercise. But do not overdo it. Really hard and long exercise can cause you to release an egg less often.
  • Eat healthy foods. And drink lots of water.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. This will increase your chances of getting pregnant. Women who weigh too much or too little can be less fertile.
  • Talk to your doctor about all medicines you are taking or may take. This includes over-the-counter and prescribed medicines and natural health products. Some medicines interfere with pregnancy.
  • Write down when your period starts and stops for a few months. Bring that information to your doctor. He or she can help you figure out when you ovulate and are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex. Or you may prefer to use a home ovulation test.

For men

  • Avoid hot tubs and saunas.
  • If you get sick and have a fever, try to control your fever. A high fever may reduce your sperm count for months.
  • If you exercise very hard most days of the week, reduce how much exercise you do. Hard, long exercise may lower your sperm count.
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay at a healthy weight. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day.

For both men and women

  • If the woman knows when she will ovulate, try to have sex once a day for the 4 days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation. If the man has a low sperm count, have sex every other day.
  • If the woman does not know when she will ovulate, have sex 2 or 3 times each week.
  • Don't use lubricants during sex. They may affect how well sperm can travel to meet the woman's egg.
  • Avoid smoking and illegal drugs.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You want to try other treatments for infertility.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.