You’ve decided to become parents. In a celebratory mood several months ago, you destroyed your last few condoms in a water balloon light. dumped your spermicide stash into the trash and retired the old diaphragm. Ever since, you’ve been having glorious. unprotected sex.
Small problem, though. Your lovemaking isn’t making any babies. And that’s beginning to worry you. Just how long does this conception business take? What can you do to help nature along?
Here is what experts advise couples who are beginning to worry about their lack of success at conception.
Give it a year.
If you’re under 28, your sex life is wonderful, and there’s nothing in your medical history that points to a possible reproductive problem. our experts say keep trying for a year.
“About 60 percent of couples conceive within six months and 90 percent within the year”, says Mitchell Levine, M.D., an obstetrician/ gynecologist with Women-Care in Cambridge Massachusetts. “When you get older, naturally, fertility decreases a bit.”
Even women in their twenties don’t ovulate every month, adds Joseph H. Bellina. M.D., Ph.D., director of Omega International Institute a fertility clinic in New Orleans. Louisiana. In the thirties, the likelihood of monthly ovulation begins to lessen. That’s why the older you are, the sooner you’ll want to consult a Specialist.
Ease up on your work schedule.
Workaholism and constant pressure can put the squeeze on fertility says Dr. Levine. “I see a lot of career people and I say to them ‘take a look at what message you’re giving to your body.'” For Dr. Levine, it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Your body knows that a period of extreme stress is not an ideal time to get pregnant.
Use the standard missionary position on days when you suspect the woman is fertile.
The man-on-top style of intercourse is best for conception, says Dr. Levine. The woman should remain lying down for 20 minutes after her partner ejaculates.
“I advise couples to have intercourse on those nights and then fall asleep,” he says.
Cigarettes can impair fertility in men and women. Studies of men have shown that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have sperm counts below the normal range, and to have less sport in motility. An English study of 17,032 women showed that the more cigarettes a woman smoked per day, the less fertile she was likely to likely to be. Researchers suspect that smoking may alter hormone levels in a woman’s body.
FOR MEN ONLY
And on the male side of the equation there is more advice.
Give your sperm time to bounce back.
Any viral illness associated with fever can depress sperm count for up to three months. says Neil Baum. MD, director of the Male Infertility Clinic in New Orleans. Bad acids can have the same effect.
Why is the effect so long lasting? According to Dr. Baum, the normal cycle to produce a sperm is 78 days. It takes another 12 days for the sperm to mature. Healthy semen, by the way contains in excess of 20 million sperm per teaspoon. If you looked at the sample under a microscope, more than 60 percent would appear to be swimming forward.
If your sperm count is healthy, a cold or flu probably won’t knock it out of the fertility range. But if it’s borderline, an Illness may.
Say no to steroids.
Anabolic steroids can shut off pituitary gland and alter the body’s natural hormone balance, says Dr. Baum. “It’s not uncommon for athletes to have infertility problems,” he adds. “Long-time use of steroids can permanently damage the testicles.”
Be wary of drugs and alcohol.
Various over-the-counter and prescription drugs can depress sperm count. If you’re not sure about the medications you use, consult your pharmacist or doctor. Tagamet, an ulcer medication, is one to watch out for. Others include chemotherapeutic agents and certain antibiotics And various studies over the years show that chronic drinking and habitual marijuana use can be at fault, too.
Keep it cool.
Nature’s way of keeping your testicles a half degree cooler than your core body temperature is to house them outside the body. But if you heat the core temperature too much, or heat the testes themselves, you can affect sperm production.
Dr. Baum advises you to be careful about excessive physical activity temperature extremes, hot tubs and close fitting underwear if you want to father a child.
Remember that abstinence makes the sperm grow stronger.
If a baby is what you’re after, daily intercourse can be too much of a good thing because it can decrease your sperm count.
“For the average couple. this doesn’t matter,” says Dr. Levine. “But in a borderline case. this may do it.” Most experts recommend you abstain for two days prior to the woman’s fertile period to let the sperm build up. then make love every other day.