Deciding to have a child is one of the most exciting and terrifying things you can do. However, few things are as rewarding as holding your child for the first time. Not to say parenthood is a way to measure the quality of your life but merely to demonstrate how rewarding it is for those interested in rearing a child. Having a child of your own is a decision you should make with careful planning. So, if you have decided you are ready for this next chapter in your life, we wish you the best. Unfortunately, having a child is not as simple as choosing to get pregnant. Some biological considerations must be made to have a child of your own.
The biggest concern lies in your fertility levels, which are not always constant and can be affected by numerous conditions. Preparing to have a child involves checking your fertility levels to see if you can conceive. Fertility is an extremely complex biological function that concerns both men and women. Fertility is different for both sexes but equally important when conception is the end goal.
Ordinarily, checking your fertility levels involves going to see a specialist. However, making a doctor's appointment might not be the best option for you, but there are ways to check from the comfort of home.
How to Check Fertility Levels at Home
While the best method for checking fertility levels in both men and women will always be going to a specialist, there are tools for checking your levels from home. However, it is worth noting that most of the best home methods require you to send something to a lab for evaluation. The way to check your fertility levels at home involves acquiring a specialized test designed to monitor your fertility levels so you can conceive a child with minimal issues. These home tests are designed to test different parts of human biology depending on whether the mother or father is testing their fertility levels.
At-home fertility tests can give results without requiring you to set foot outside your home, though some tests are better than others. However, the tests cannot substitute for a proper doctor's appointment. They are only meant to be a quick glimpse of your fertility without an in-depth analysis of certain biological issues affecting your ability to conceive. However, if you want a general idea of how fertile you or your partner are, there is an assortment of at-home fertility tests you can purchase.
At-home fertility tests are usually produced to fill specific roles. Some are designed to be as comprehensive as possible, so a doctor's visit is the last resort.
However, there are also tests that:
- Operate on a subscription system.
- Are used alongside a mobile app.
- Can be worn.
- Offer rapid results.
While convenience is not always the best call, it can be helpful when you need reassurance without waiting for an appointment slot to open with your physician. However, the Centers for Disease Control recommends seeing a doctor if you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year. If you are over 35, the CDC recommends going to a physician after six months. At-home tests can still be beneficial if you know how to use them.
The tests check for certain markers in both biological males and females, with each sex getting tested for different things. For example, an at-home fertility test for females will usually focus on assessing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the body. These hormones are extremely important to determining ovulation cycles and fertility levels to assess your ability to get pregnant. What roles these hormones play specifically is an entirely different can of worms.
What Do At-Home Fertility Tests Look For in Females?
Sexual dimorphism is about more than secondary sexual characteristics. It also determines how your body facilitates reproduction and what hormones are important to your development. Regarding fertility, the concept remains the same as most fertility tests look for markers specific to sex. As we mentioned before, at-home fertility tests for females tend to focus on FSH and LH levels in the body. However, you might be a little curious as to how these hormones affect your ability to have a child.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone that is regulated by the pituitary gland. The purpose of FSH is to control the menstrual cycle and promote the growth of eggs in the ovaries. When your FSH levels are well regulated, you will have an easy time producing eggs and will be able to get pregnant without much issue. However, the biggest problem with FSH is having too much in your body. If there is too much FSH in the body, it usually signifies a decrease in ovarian function and could render you unable to conceive.
Similarly, luteinizing hormone (LH) also plays a significant role in managing the menstrual cycle. However, LH can also determine when your body is prepared for pregnancy, as you can use it to track ovulation. When your LH levels are high, your chances of getting pregnant increase significantly. LH levels spike around 24 to 36 hours before your ovary releases an egg for fertilization.
As a result, the at-home tests for females use the levels of these hormones to determine if you are ovulating or if your hormone levels are too high for pregnancy. The more common options for at-home fertility tests for women do not require a laboratory to analyze the results. The majority are similar to a standard pregnancy test, requiring the user to urinate on a test strip and await the result.
Others require a blood sample, and you will have to prick your finger like you would for an insulin test. Each test will come with instructions and tools you can use to ensure proper use. However, the at-home fertility tests for males are radically different regarding how they are taken and what they test.
What Do At-Home Fertility Tests Look For in Males?
The biology of a male is wildly different from that of a female, as we mentioned with our sexual dimorphism tangent. As a result, most tests for males are equally different than for females. This is due to the fundamental differences between males and females and how they contribute to reproduction. While females menstruate and produce eggs to facilitate pregnancy, males are closer to a catalyst. No doubt you have more than enough knowledge on how reproduction works, but the differences between you and your partner mean he will need a different test altogether.
Despite the misconception some have about men and fertility, it is just as possible for a male to be infertile as it is for a female. In 2015, a systematic review discovered that between 4.5% and 6% of males in the United States alone suffer from infertility. Unlike females, males are more difficult to test for fertility levels since hormones are not the only factor in male fertility. Often, male infertility is linked to issues with spermatozoa (sperm).
There are a couple of major factors that determine a male's fertility, including:
- The motility (ability to move) and morphology (shape) of their sperm. If their sperm has poor mobility or is heavily deformed, the sperm is less likely to be able to reach and penetrate the egg before the biology of the female kills it.
- Hormone disorders affecting the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. While it might seem odd to some, hormones are just as important to males as they are for females. When hormone levels are unbalanced, sperm production and health deteriorate.
Other details such as diseases, cancer treatments, and recreational drug use affect male fertility. However, they are just as likely to affect female fertility, and we will touch on that later. As for the fertility tests available for males, the tests usually assess sperm count, motility, and morphology. This means a male must submit a semen sample that is sent to a laboratory for examination. It is virtually impossible to examine sperm at home unless you have a laboratory built in your home.
Ultimately, the differences in fertility tests for males and females are only a part of how these tests can contribute to your pregnancy efforts. Knowing what you and your partner will have to go through is important, but knowing what can compromise your fertility is also crucial.
What Causes Infertility?
While we have established that certain hormonal abnormalities play a substantial role in infertility, much more applies. We briefly touched upon how certain vices or health treatments directly impact the fertility of males. However, most of what can kill a male's fertility levels can be just as harmful to females. This is because the biology of a human being is extremely fragile and can be easily disrupted. Knowing what can lead to infertility can help you avoid them and enhance your chances of getting pregnant.
We mentioned before that certain recreational drugs can cause infertility in men and women. The substances that are known to impact fertility levels include:
- Cigarettes: Smoking cigarettes introduces nicotine to your body, a harmful and toxic substance that has been used for some time. Modern research has discovered that tobacco can reduce fertility levels and interfere with your body's hormone production. It can also damage the DNA in sperm, making the activity extremely harmful to you and your reproductive system.
- Alcohol: The consumption of alcohol is a social activity that has withstood the test of time, but alcohol is just as toxic as nicotine. Most studies have linked excessive consumption of alcohol to increased rates of infertility.
- Recreational Drug Use: Like nicotine and alcohol, hard drugs and even marijuana can adversely affect fertility. While most drugs are illegal, with marijuana only recently becoming a legal substance, people still tend to get their hands on them. Hard drugs destroy your biology, while marijuana lowers the production of hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Substance use is not the only shared risk to fertility levels between males and females. Unfortunately, we are all susceptible to certain diseases that can lower fertility levels and require treatment that tends to worsen things. The worst offender to fertility is cancer, one of the most deadly and common diseases. While the effects of cancer are not helpful to fertility levels, the treatment is even worse. Most cancers are treated with chemotherapy, introducing a host of chemicals that can sterilize your system.
Chemotherapy can cause sperm production in men to stop outright, making it impossible for the male to impregnate his partner. Conversely, chemotherapy has a similar effect on ovaries. Research shows that chemotherapy neutralizes the ovaries in females and renders them unable to menstruate or get pregnant.
In worst-case scenarios, radiation therapy is necessary to treat cancer. Radiation therapy decimates your body's internal systems. It kills sperm, depletes hormones, and can render you permanently infertile. While you might not need a test to confirm that radiation therapy or substance abuse affects your fertility levels, they are still worth considering when trying to conceive.
Keep it All Natural!
Testing fertility is one of the most stressful parts of planning for a child since it can torpedo your plans to become a parent. However, knowing your fertility levels is too important to ignore if you want to ensure you can have a child. While at-home tests will never be an effective substitute for a consultation with a fertility specialist, they can help give a general idea of your chances of becoming a parent.
Even if the results are less than promising, you can employ a naturalistic lifestyle to help rejuvenate your body and improve fertility. There are even kits you can employ to improve your fertility levels, but you will want to find one that uses natural ingredients and is safe.
While we cannot provide at-home fertility tests, we at Bella All Natural offer a fertility kit that uses natural ingredients to enhance your body's fertility. We believe that a supply of natural supplements is the best way to improve the human condition, and fertility falls under that umbrella. Having a child is a wonderful and terrifying time, and we want to provide you with the best possible resources to become a parent. So, we encourage you to visit our website and try our fertility kit, but no matter what you decide, remember to keep it All Natural!