Fertility and Your Biological Clock: Assess Your Chances to Conceive
Do you hope to one day have children but fear waiting too long will affect your fertility and ability to conceive? But first, my journey and my hope for you. As an acupuncturist specializing in infertility treatment, I know firsthand after my journey of ups and downs. My story includes IVF, multiple transfers, an ER visit, and surgeries. So I can personally relate to you. I had an emotional and physical roller coaster, but I have two beautiful boys two years apart.
Fertility: Age and Time Concerns
As you probably know, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to become pregnant. This difficulty is due to each woman’s egg reserve. At birth, the ovaries contain a finite number of eggs. Over time, this number slowly decreases at a steady rate.
Unlike the first half of the twentieth century and all centuries prior, women are no longer expected or urged to marry and bear children before 30. This once “common practice” would be considered contradictory to today’s social norms, and it would also be politically incorrect. So instead, many women choose to pursue a career, wait until they find that perfect someone to settle down with, or want to spend one-on-one time with their partner or spouse before they bring another life into this world.
But how long is too long to wait? Each woman differs. Ten percent of women will fall under the category “Low Ovarian Reserve” by the time they reach their 30s, and 25% of women will meet this criterion by 35. It is commonly known that the rate of conception steeply drops off somewhere after the age of 35. So how do you know how quickly your biological clock is ticking?
The easiest and best way to determine your ability to conceive is by completing a “Fertility Profile” assessment test. This test will accurately estimate your egg reserve and detect underlying problems that may also affect your fertility and therefore require fertility treatments. Best of all, this assessment test can be completed in our office.
The Fertility Profile Includes the Following Five Tests:
1. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) test: Blood is drawn and tested on the third day after your period begins. The results are based on a number scale that will indicate whether or not your egg reserves are decreasing. For example, if your test results are a nine or lower, this is an excellent sign. However, if you receive a higher number, you may require fertility treatments to conceive.
2. Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH): This is also a blood test, but unlike the FSH test, blood for this test can be drawn on any day of your cycle. If the results of this test fall below the 1.0 range, you should consult your doctor regarding alternative methods for conceiving.
3. Antral Follicle Count (AFC): This tool is the best indicator of where your egg reserve count stands. An ultrasound is employed to count the number of mature eggs in your ovaries to perform an AFC assessment. An AFC should be done between Day 3 and Day 12 of your cycle to achieve the most accurate results. Again, this assessment is based on a number scale. Results of 12 or higher mean your egg count is average, and you have a few years left to become pregnant. It is important to note that this is not a guarantee, but it is a reasonably accurate prediction.
4. Semen Analysis: This test can be a touchy subject for many men, but it is essential to find out if either of you has fertility issues or could likely become infertile, especially if your plans of having children are far off. While your partner may be reluctant to have this test performed, assure him that any doctor can order it and that he will privately collect the sample himself. Once the sample is brought into the lab, the sperm will be analyzed to determine the amount produced and the number, movement, and quality of the sperm.
5. Hysterosalpingogram: While the name of this test may sound rather long and complicated, the test itself is relatively simple. A hysterosalpingogram is used to determine any blockage or structural abnormalities that may prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. This test is performed at a radiology center and inserts a thin tube into the uterine cavity. Dye is then injected and recorded by X-ray. It is crucial to identify any of these problems as early as possible so your physician can begin a treatment plan for you.
If you dream of conceiving, contact our office to learn more about your Fertility Profile referrals and how you can get started on the road to pregnancy today by way of safe and effective acupuncture for fertility by itself or in conjunction with MD reproductive specialists. For more information, click here.