Fertility Definition

ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.

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At some point in your life, or at least most people, you will want to have children. Whilst this won’t be the case for everyone, it is something that is becoming more popular. Fertility is directly involved with this process in which both males and females produce the ingredients needing to reproduce.

The basics of it can be boiled down to eggs and sperm, but it goes deeper than that, which is something we will explore in this article. Having children is a major decision for most couples, with the very idea of wanting or having children sometimes directly deciding where a couple will live and work, as well as what car they will drive.

That’s why it's important that couples understand their bodies and any problems that they may have, as roughly 1 in 8 couples will struggle with some form of infertility. We at Fertiligy understand this need, as we specialize in male fertility solutions to help improve your chances of conceiving a child.

The last thing anyone will want from trying to have a child is to have stress added to the relationship because of something not in their control. This article will aim to inform you all about what your fertility means and why it is so important to couples. Within this article, we will cover the following topics:

  • The basics of fertility for men
  • The basics of fertility for women
  • Understanding your body
  • The main causes of infertility for women
  • The main causes of fertility for men
  • The challenges associated with trying to conceive
  • How to know if your partner has any fertility issues
  • How you can boost your fertility
  • How to find the right time to try and conceive
  • What you need to know about egg and sperm quality
  • Conclusion

At the end of this article, you will have hopefully gained some insight into fertility and some knowledge that you and your partner can utilize to best improve your chances of conceiving a child or how to best get help.

The Basics Of Fertility For Men

fertility definition for men

The main components involved with male fertility can be boiled down to semen and sperm, although there are also other factors to consider. For example, you have hormonal factors such as how high your testosterone levels are. Higher levels of testosterone will mean higher production of sperm in the testes.

Any genetic or chromosomal issues within your family could also be a big factor in your fertility rate and any potential birthing issues or defects with your children. It can be difficult to identify these issues or relate them to fertility at all, but we do know more about semen and its relationship with fertility.

One of the main points when it comes to fertility is the sperm numbers themselves. Typically, men may produce around 2ml to 5ml of semen for each time they ejaculate, and this can contain from 40 to 60 million sperm cells per 1ml. [1]

According to the United Kingdoms National Health Service, a man may be considered to have some fertility issues if the sperm count is 15 million or lower per 1ml of semen. [2]

The process of reproduction for a man is to produce sperm and semen that will eventually be ejaculated into a female, or it could be extracted and frozen for the purposes of IVF. They can largely do this throughout most of their life until they reach the age of 80 or so or until they run into any infertility issues although mens fertility does start to natural decline around the age of 40 to 45 years. [3]

Fortunately, there are fertility solutions that can help resolve some of these issues, depending on the issue at hand. Fertiligy uses natural nutrients paired with development from research professionals to help create a safe, legal and plant-based product that helps men address issues such as a low sperm count that is decreasing, as well as sexual dysfunction that may be caused by low testosterone

The Basics Of Fertility For Woman

basic fertility for woman

Women go through a different process but with the same aims of reproduction. Women will go through the process of menstruation, which involves different stages of going through the period and ovulation over a monthly cycle. [4]

A woman will usually begin her puberty as a young teener, even a pre-teen in some cases. At that point, a woman will start off her menstruation cycle with regular periods. A major part of that includes follicles and eggs. Follicles contain fluid and immature eggs; the main purpose of these sacs is to develop the eggs into maturity before releasing them into the ovaries. [5]

When the uterine lining sheds inside of a woman, it will leave their progesterone and estrogen levels low, which begins the follicular stage, which helps prepare the body for the eggs about to be released. [6]

There are different times in life when a woman will be the most fertile. For example, there is a window that usually lasts a few days during each month that the female body will be best prepared to become pregnant. Usually, this is right before the ovulation stage, which will be the time when the body is most fertile. This is generally 12 to 14 days before the start of your next period. [7] You can read more about the fertility window, here.

Just as a side note, whilst it is unlikely that you will get pregnant just after your period, bear in mind that sperm can survive inside a womans body for up to 7 days! [8]

Typically, age will play a big factor when it comes to fertility for women. They are considered to be fertile up until their 40s or sometimes 50s when they enter menopause. This is essentially when the eggs are all but gone, with the menstruation period ending. [9]

It will be during her 20s or 30s that a woman will have the best chance of getting pregnant with certain days in the month having an increased chance. This means that once a couple has identified this day, they will usually be able to conceive on the first try.

Understanding Your Body

knowing your body for fertility

It will go a long way for a couple to help understand their fertility if they understand their bodies and what they are capable of. There are different ways in which you can do this, from growing and learning from personal experience to tests. For example, it’s very unlikely that you will know from experience how much sperm you are currently producing, even with semen coming out.

That is why you should go to a doctor to get a professional opinion regarding your fertility, as they will have the knowledge and expertise to find out for sure what is going on. Consider speaking to friends and family about how they overcame challenges regarding their fertility, assuming they are comfortable enough to do so.

Your diet choice can also be a contributing factor, with alcohol linked to infertility in many cases. It will be a different story for everyone, but there will still be some factors that affect everyone, such as high quantities of alcohol intake.

Main Causes Of Infertility In Women

Infertility for women can come from a few different sources, with one of the major factors that will eventually affect every woman being age. As we mentioned earlier, menopause is a natural end for a woman’s reproductive cycle, but there are sadly other factors that can end fertility earlier or at least hamper it.

It could be that the woman has some sort of ovulation disorder. This refers to when there are problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones by the hypothalamus or any of the glands that are inside. Any sort of problem within the ovary will cause ovulation disorders. [10]

Damage to the fallopian tubes, otherwise known as tubal infertility, is also a major cause of infertility. This will stop sperm from getting to the egg or at least block the fertilized eggs from getting from the follicles to the uterus. These tubes can become damaged from certain sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, to name a few. [11]

There could also be issues with the uterine or cervical regions of the body. This can cause infertility by interfering with implantation and increasing the chances of a miscarriage. This can come in the form of endometriosis, which happens when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere. It is becoming more common, with different treatments to help manage the symptoms and improve pregnancy chances. [12]

Main Causes Of Infertility In Men

As touched upon earlier, one of the main causes of infertility for men comes with the sperm count itself. It can be low from certain disorders or from a hormonal disorder. Dilated veins around the testicles can be a sign that something isn’t right, and there can also be conditions that block the sperm from getting out. This is referred to as caricocele. [13]

There are a variety of different infertility symptoms for men to look out for, such as pain and swelling in the testicular areas could be a sign of a urogenital infection. [14]

Even a decreased facial or body hair can be a sign that hormonal levels are low, especially in regards to testosterone. 

Problems with sexual function also play a major role, ranging from problems with ejaculation to only small amounts of fluid coming out. The problem could also be erectile dysfunction and a reduced sexual drive in general. It can be something more physical, with injuries and discomfort playing a part too. [15] 

Male fertility can be a complex process, with a male having to produce healthy sperm and have enough to be carried within the semen. The sperm itself has to be fast enough and have enough motility to function and reach the egg to penetrate it otherwise the cervical mucus filters out sperm, as a result only a minority reach and enter the cervix. [16]

There are various different medical causes that can lead to male infertility. There could be cancerous tumors that directly affect the reproductive system or even surgery and chemotherapy that treats other tumors can indirectly affect fertility. [17]

Fertiligy offers a range of fertility products that are backed by science to help boost your fertility chances. Whilst they aren’t a guarantee, as nothing is, they have proven results in the industry. You should consider looking into products such as this if you have been unsuccessful in the attempts so far to conceive a child.

The Challenges With Trying To Conceive

fertility definition

Some of the main challenges with couples trying to conceive, away from actual infertility issues, can be attributed to misunderstanding certain baby-making techniques. For example, whilst there is an ovulation window you can aim for that includes high fertility, you should still be trying regularly every few days to help increase your chances. [18] Some couples decide to wait and save themselves for this window, but there is no harm in trying outside of it.

It’s also possible that a couple could have mistimed their ovulation window; this could be with an incorrect test or getting your own symptoms wrong when calculating it via a calendar. There are various apps on a smartphone that can help with tracking these periods, but if you calculate too late, then you may only have a 24-hour period for an egg to be positioned right and fertilized.

Sperm has the potential to survive for up to five days or so, with an egg lasting 12-24 hours once ready. [19]

This is why you should plan your sex on days coming up to ovulation and the days following it in order to have the best chance. However, it is also possible that you could burn out from too much sex, which could put you off the experience, so do it as much as you both feel comfortable in a way that you can engage with.

How To Know If Your Partner Has Fertility Issues

If you’ve both been trying for a while to conceive with little luck, then it could be time for you to look into why that is. Sometimes, it could be out of your hands due to genetic reasons, but it can also be contributed to lifestyle choices. Steroid use has been linked to infertility, so if you know your partner has been using them, consider speaking to them and see what your options could be.

Within the first year of trying, you may not be successful, but don't worry too much. That statistics are that 84% do concevie within a year of regular unprotected sex, but 98% conceive after 2 years. [20] 

Of course, it is possible to do this quicker, and women in their 20s are atthe peak of their fertility, but other reasons could be attributed to making changes in your life.

You and your partner could take tests or speak to a medical expert to find out what the actual issue is and find out how to resolve it.

How To Boost Your Fertility

boost fertility

As mentioned, we here at Fertiligy have options for male infertility. You can read about how it works here to get a better idea of the problem and how it can be resolved. Otherwise, consider that you may need to look into medical surgeries or solutions if it is something that goes deeper.

Getting fitter and cutting out lifestyle choices such as cigarettes and alcohol can help boost your chances of conceiving. Losing weight and getting fitter, in general, will help, a meta-analysis of 40 studies found that a reduced calorie diet and exercise helped improve fertility outcomes. [21]

Additionally, exercise releases endorphins into your body that help keep you in a positive state of mind during your fertile experience.

Although, men who over-exercise could be doing more damage than good. For example, cycling too much can reduce overall sperm health and reduce fertility. [22]

But in general, your weight will matter. Being overweight or underweight can make a difference to your fertility, as your body should be in that middle area.

How To Find The Best Time To Try And Conceive?

Finding the best time to try and conceive doesn’t just mean finding the right ovulation time. It also means finding the right time that both you and your partner is free and willing. Stress plays a major part in the baby-making journey, and you’ll find you can be more successful in your attempts if you take away this stress. A study involving 274 women who were attempting pregnancy found that stress has a major impact on the probability of conception during the fertility window. [23]

You can cut down on stress by engaging in activities such as yoga or meditation or evening going for a run or swim. Long baths also help, but all of these activities will depend on the person. Chances are, you know what will help you reduce your stress levels. This way, when you’ve both cut down on stress, it will feel like less of a chore, and you’ll both be ready to engage with it.

What You Need To Know About Egg And Sperm Quality

It’s important that you understand the role that egg and sperm play in reproduction. Whilst this article has explained the science behind it, it hasn’t yet explained how important the quality of these natural reproductive systems is.

It can be difficult for you to know what the best quality is; that’s why you should look into blood tests and scans that can help investigate the substances produces within the ovaries. This will help you find out what’s going on and give you useful information. Likewise, there are sperm tests to help count the sperm levels and quality to help you understand your odds of conceiving.

Semen quality and sperm density is key to male fertility, an analysis of semen quality demonstrates that quality has decreased globally by approximately 50% over the previous decades. [24]

Conclusion

To conclude, you should have an understanding of the basics involved with what fertility means and how to manage it, as well as what to do with infertility. One of the most important takeaways here is that everyone is unique, and what works for some people might not work for others.

Consider looking into a range of different options to find what works for you.  This will not only help boost your fertility chances but will educate you more on the process. Hopefully, you know how to approach your partner to discuss fertility and know when to speak to a medical expert.

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References:

[1] OpenLearn. (n.d.). Sperm counts. [online] Available at: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/nature-environment/natural-history/sperm-counts.

[2] NHS Choices (2019). Low sperm count. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-sperm-count/.

[3] Vic.gov.au. (2012). Age and fertility. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/age-and-fertility.

‌[4] womenshealth.gov. (2018). Menstrual cycle tool. [online] Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle.

[5] Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.). Follicle | anatomy. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/science/follicle-anatomy.

[6] Asu.edu. (2016). Estrogen and the Menstrual Cycle in Humans | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/estrogen-and-menstrual-cycle-humans.

[7] nhs.uk. (2018). Can I get pregnant just after my period has finished? [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/can-i-get-pregnant-just-after-my-period-has-finished [Accessed 30 Jul. 2021].

‌[8] nidirect. (2015). Advice on conceiving and preparing for pregnancy. [online] Available at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/advice-conceiving-and-preparing-pregnancy.

‌[9] Britishfertilitysociety.org.uk. (2019). At what age does fertility begin to decrease?» British Fertility Society. [online] Available at: https://www.britishfertilitysociety.org.uk/fei/at-what-age-does-fertility-begin-to-decrease/.

‌[10] fertility.wustl.edu. (n.d.). Ovulation Disorder | Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center. [online] Available at: https://fertility.wustl.edu/getting-started-infertility/infertility-factors/ovulation-disorder/ [Accessed 30 Jul. 2021].

[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Infertility & STDs - STD Information from CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/default.htm.

‌[12] womenshealth.gov. (2019). Endometriosis | Womenshealth.gov. [online] Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis.

[13] Kantartzi, P.D., Goulis, C.D., Goulis, G.D. and Papadimas, I. (2007). Male infertility and varicocele: myths and reality. Hippokratia, [online] 11(3), pp.99–104. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658802/.

[‌14] Schuppe, H.-C., Pilatz, A., Hossain, H., Diemer, T., Wagenlehner, F. and Weidner, W. (2017). Urogenital Infection as a Risk Factor for Male Infertility. Deutsches Aerzteblatt Online. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470348/

‌[15] Parnham, A. and Serefoglu, E.C. (2016). Retrograde ejaculation, painful ejaculation and hematospermia. Translational Andrology and Urology, 5(4), pp.592–601. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5002007/

[16] ‌Suarez, S.S. and Pacey, A.A. (2005). Sperm transport in the female reproductive tract. Human Reproduction Update, [online] 12(1), pp.23–37. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/12/1/23/607817.

[17] Vakalopoulos, I., Dimou, P., Anagnostou, I. and Zeginiadou, T. (2015). Impact of cancer and cancer treatment on male fertility. HORMONES. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26732148/

‌[18] nhs.uk. (2020). Trying to get pregnant. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/trying-to-get-pregnant/.

‌[19] Hospital, T.R.W. (n.d.). Ovulation and conception. [online] The Royal Women’s Hospital. Available at: https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/fertility-information/getting-pregnant/ovulation-and-conception.

[‌20] nhs.uk. (2020). How long does it usually take to get pregnant? [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/how-long-it-takes-to-get-pregnant/.‌

[21] D, B., A, A. and S, B. (2017). How Effective Are Weight-Loss Interventions for Improving Fertility in Women and Men Who Are Overweight or Obese? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Evidence. [online] Human reproduction update. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28961722/.‌

[22] Hajizadeh Maleki, B. and Tartibian, B. (2015). Long-term Low-to-Intensive Cycling Training: Impact on Semen Parameters and Seminal Cytokines. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Official Journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, [online] 25(6), pp.535–540. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24977955/.

[‌23] Louis, G.M.B., Lum, K.J., Sundaram, R., Chen, Z., Kim, S., Lynch, C.D., Schisterman, E.F. and Pyper, C. (2011). Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility, [online] 95(7), pp.2184–2189. Available at: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)01031-9/fulltext [Accessed 2 Dec. 2020].

‌[24] Merzenich, H., Zeeb, H. and Blettner, M. (2010). Decreasing sperm quality: a global problem? BMC Public Health, 10(1). Available at: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-10-24