Fertility self-assessment

 

Should you seek advice about your fertility?

For most, achieving pregnancy causes no problems but some couples do experience difficulties.

If youíre a woman trying for a child and are worried you might be having problems, take this test. It will assess your situation and let you know if you should seek further medical advice.  

 

 

QUESTIONS

The words in italics appear as part of an advice checklist on the results page of the tool.

 

 

1. How long have you been trying to get pregnant?

 

a) Less than six months (0 points) Itís common for it to take longer than six months to get pregnant and in the majority of cases this does not indicate any problem.

 

b) Between six months and one year (1 points) Itís common for it to take up to 12 months to achieve pregnancy, and in the majority of cases this does not indicate a problem.

 

c) Over one year (5 points) Youíve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year so it is worth getting a check up with your GP.

 

d) Over 18 months (5 points) Youíve been trying to get pregnant for more than 18 months so it is worth getting a check up with your GP.

 

2. Are you 35 years or older?

 

a) Yes (3 points) After the age of 35 though fertility problems become more common, so that`s why it`s recommended that you seek more advice.

 

b) No (0 points)

 

Why age matters

Both women and men are at their most fertile, (that is, most likely to conceive a child through unprotected sex) in their early twenties.

In women, fertility declines more quickly with age. This decline becomes rapid after age 35. A range of factors cause this, especially the decline in the quality of the eggs being released by the ovaries.

Around one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 have fertility problems. This rises to two-thirds when the woman is over 40.

 

 

3. Do you have a regular period?

 

a) Yes (0 points) You have regular periods, which is good and makes it easier for you to keep track of your most fertile time of the month.

 

b) No (5 points)

 

c) Donít know (0 points) Try to keep track of your periods so you can tell when you are most fertile.

 

More info on periods

A period is a bleed from the uterus (womb) that is released through the vagina. It happens approximately every 28 days, though anywhere between 24 and 35 days is normal.

 

Periods are part the female reproductive cycle.

 

Every month the lining of the womb thickens in preparation for receiving a fertilised egg. But if the egg is not fertilised, hormonal changes signal to this lining to break down. A period bleed is made up of this lining, and a small amount of blood.

 

If your periods are irregular or absent, this may indicate a problem with your fertility cycle.

 

 

4. Have you been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

 

a) Yes (5 points) PCOS can cause ovulation problems, which may make it difficult to get pregnant so do seek advice.

 

b) No (0 points)

 

More about PCOS

The most common cause of ovulation problems, leading to failure to become pregnant, is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition associated with multiple cysts in the ovaries.

As well as problems getting pregnant, symptoms can also include light, irregular or absent periods, weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth.

The symptoms of this condition can be improved by losing excess weight through a healthy diet and exercise.

Medicines or surgery can also help women with PCOS to ovulate, and achieve pregnancy.

 

5. Have you ever had an ectopic pregnancy?

 

a) Yes(5 points)

 

b) No (0 points)

 

More on ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is where a fertilised egg implants, and starts to develop, outside the womb. These pregnancies cannot continue to birth. Around 1% of pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies.

Left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can be fatal for the mother. But the number of ectopic pregnancies that result in death is extremely small. Ectopic pregnancy can be treated with surgery to remove the developing egg, or sometimes with medicines.

If you have had a previous ectopic pregnancy, your chance of having another raises from around 1% to 8%.

 

 

6. Have you ever had surgery that may have affected your reproductive organs? 

 

a)Yes (5 points)

 

b) No (0 points)

 

 

7. How often do you have unprotected sex during the fertile time of your monthly cycle?

 

a) Every day (1 point) Keep having sex at least every other day during the most fertile part of your monthly cycle.

 

b) At least every other day (1 point) Keep having sex at least every other day during the most fertile part of your monthly cycle.

 

c) Every few days (0 points) It can help if you have sex more often during the most fertile  part of your monthly cycle. At least every other day is recommended.

 

d) I donít know when I am fertile (0 points) Having sex when you are most fertile will increase the chance of getting pregnant. You are most fertile about 10-16 days after the first day of your period.

 

Most fertile time of the month?

When a woman ovulates, an egg is released from her ovaries into the fallopian tubes. This is where conception will occur if the egg is fertilised by sperm.

If youíre a woman who has regular periods, call the first day of your period 'day one'. Typically, you will ovulate between day 10 and day 16. If you have unprotected sex across these days, you give yourself best chance of conception.

Donít let the timing of ovulation become a source of stress. You only need to know the exact day of ovulation if you want to time intercourse to the day. If you simply have sex every day across the days you may be ovulating, you have the best chance of becoming pregnant.

 

 

8. Do you have or have you ever had Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

 

a) Yes (5 points) Speak to your GP about STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea that can damage a woman`s fallopian tubes, making it difficult to become pregnant. 

 

b) No (0 points)

 

c) Donít know (0 points) Some STIs can affect fertility so if you`re unsure whether you might have contracted an STI, seek help from your GP or a health clinic.

 

STI check ups

Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can damage a woman's fallopian tubes, which can result in difficulty becoming pregnant.

You can go along to your GP or local GUM clinic if you are concerned about having an STI, or would like a check up. Go to the 'Find services' section to find your nearest clinic.

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9. Is there a history of fertility problems in your close family like your parents, brothers, sisters or uncles?

 

a)Yes (5 points)

 

b) No (0 points)

 

ANSWERS

An advice checklist will be generated according to how you respond to the questions. See copy in italics after each response above.

0-1point

Based on your responses today it's too early to tell whether they are any problems.

1-2 points

Based on your responses today it's still early days so it's not possible to tell whether they are any problems.

2-3 points

Based on your responses today you should go for a check up with your GP.

3-50 points

Based on your responses today you should arrange to see your GP. 

 

 

LINKS

Below are links to further information that may be of interest. Please note these links will take you away from this page.

Experiencing irregular periods

Having a polycystic ovarian syndrome

More about miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

 

Talking to your GP about fertility

 

STIs and fertility

 

Family history of fertility problems

 

Infertility and what it means

 

Protecting your fertility

 

Trying to get pregnant

 

 

NHS Choices 2011