Both male and female hormone levels fluctuate according to the time of day, and they also vary from day to day and month to month. Some timing tips might be helpful.
Fertility and Seasonal Changes. Different studies have reported higher sperm counts in the winter than in the summer. For women, fertility rates as measured by treatment success are highest in months when days are longest.
Monitoring Basal Body Temperature. To determine the most likely time of ovulation and therefore the time of fertility, a woman is instructed to take her body temperature, called her basal body temperature. This is the body's temperature as it rises and falls in accord with hormonal fluctuations.
By studying the temperature patterns after a few months, couples can begin to anticipate ovulation and plan their sexual activity accordingly. Couples must try to avoid becoming fixated on the chart, however, in scheduling their sexual activity. Spontaneity can be lost, and the stress on the relationship can be quite severe.
Frequency of Intercourse. The question of how often a couple should have intercourse is in debate. Some experts say that having sex more than 2 days a week adds no benefits. And, in fact, frequent sexual activity lowers sperm count per ejaculation. Some studies have indicated, however, that having intercourse every day, or even several times a day, before and during ovulation, improves pregnancy rates. Although sperm count per ejaculation is low, a constantly replenished semen supply is more likely to result in a fertilized egg.
Everyone should eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Replace animal fats with monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil. Certain specific nutrients and vitamins have been studied for their effects on male infertility and sperm health. They include antioxidant vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E) and the dietary supplements L-carnitine and L-acetylcarnitine. To date, there is no conclusive evidence that they are effective.
Other tips for helping fertility include:
The fertility treatment process presents a roller coaster of emotions. There are almost no sure ways to predict which couples will eventually conceive. Some couples with multiple problems will overcome great odds, while other, seemingly fertile, couples fail to conceive. Many of the new treatments are remarkable, but a live birth is never guaranteed. The emotional burden on the couple is considerable, and some planning is helpful:
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