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Ultimate Guide to Secondary Infertility

What is the difference between primary and secondary infertility?

Primary infertility refers to never having been able to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. Secondary infertility refers to situations where a couple has conceived and had a child at least once before and then begins experiencing infertility. In both cases, infertility is marked by a period of one year without being able to get pregnant naturally (six months if your 35 or older).

What makes secondary infertility different?

Secondary infertility occurs when a couple is unable to conceive naturally after already having at least one child. While childless couples experience primary infertility, those who have been able to conceive a child on their own, and then are unable to, are experiencing secondary infertility.

Can you have fertility problems after having a child?

There is a common misconception that if you are fertile once, you will always be fertile. This is simply not the case every time. Couples who experience infertility after having a child where infertility issues were not present before are still susceptible to infertility issues.

The factors that cause infertility are not always carried lifelong and may manifest between pregnancies in the male or female partner. Infertility can happen at any time, no matter how many children you have.

Is secondary infertility common?

Secondary infertility is more common than you likely thought. Some secondary infertility statistics show that up to 60% of infertility cases are cases of secondary infertility.

According to the results of a 1995 National Health Statistics survey, 3.3 million women in the U.S. were experiencing secondary infertility. The same surveys in 1988 revealed only 2.7 million women were experiencing it at that time.

You may be wondering why, if secondary infertility is so common, we don’t hear more about it. Only recently, has the concern or recognition of secondary fertility being a problem, come into higher visibility.

Many share a sentiment that if you already have one or more kids, the desire to have another isn’t as validated as couples who have no children at all. Likely if you’re reading this, you know how just how much the misconception lacks understanding and empathy.

Luckily, others are recognizing this and elevating the importance of addressing secondary infertility.

Can secondary infertility be avoided?

Secondary infertility is no more preventable than primary infertility. The vast majority of issues that lead to infertility cannot be prevented.

However, certain lifestyle choices—not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, lowering stress, etc.—do positively affect fertility so maintaining adequate general health overall is your best weapon against preventable fertility problems.

Age plays a big role in fertility. Roughly one third of couples with a female partner over will have trouble conceiving.

That number rises to two thirds for women over 40. Age often, but certainly not always, accounts for the root cause of secondary infertility.

What are the signs of secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is defined by an inability to conceive after having unprotected sex for over a year. If you are having frequent, unprotected sex for a) one year if you are under 35 or b) six months for women over 35, you are experiencing secondary infertility.

While trying to get pregnant without success is the most common sign of secondary infertility, there are others. If you experience changes in ovulation or irregular menstrual cycles, it may be a sign of secondary infertility.

If your period is irregular, it’s important to decipher the root cause, as that is an indicator of something being off in your reproductive patterns. Additionally, if you’ve experienced multiple miscarriages while trying to get pregnant with an additional child, it may be a sign of infertility.

Your doctor can help you identify the cause of the secondary infertility after miscarriage and hopefully a plan to avoid them in the future.

C-sections can also cause secondary infertility. In some cases, scarring from a C-section can cause fertility issues as well as pain and bleeding. If you feel your C-section has not healed properly or is causing issues, it is advised to contact a medical professional.

Certain fertility clinics specialize in fixing these kinds of issues and restoring fertility cause by C-sections.

How is secondary infertility diagnosed?

A couple is considered to have secondary infertility if they are unable to get pregnant while having frequent, unprotected sex over a set period of time. For couples with a female partner under 35, one year of regular, unprotected sex that does not result in a pregnancy is diagnosable as secondary infertility.

For couples with a female partner over 35, six months is the standard.

Diagnosing the presence of secondary infertility is arguable just the beginning. Without identifying the cause of the infertility, there is little chance of overcoming it.

From diagnoses, your doctor will present and explore options for figuring out what is causing the secondary infertility and how to treat that specific issue or issues. Secondary infertility is not treatable in and of itself, but rather by treating whatever is expected to be causing it.

When is secondary infertility diagnosed?

Secondary infertility is diagnosed when couples seek medical help after being unable to conceive. If you have been having consistent, unprotected sex for six months if 35 or older or twelve months if under 35 and seek medical intervention, you will likely be diagnosed with secondary infertility.

When should you see a doctor about secondary infertility?

If you’ve been having unprotected sex for over one year if you are under 35, or over six months if you are 35 or older and have not gotten pregnant, you should see your doctor about secondary infertility.

It is always wise to bring you doctor into the conversation when you are trying to conceive, especially if you are having trouble doing so. If you are 35 or older, you should speak to your doctor shortly after you begin trying for a baby. T

hey may be able to do some testing, though it is not always covered by insurance, to check for certain issues that can impact fertility. Since getting pregnant gets more and more difficult at this age, it’s smart to get as ahead of the timeline as possible.

Is secondary infertility curable?

Many couples are able to overcome fertility issues and get pregnant. Some root causes of fertility call for more invasive and expensive treatments, while others are relatively non-invasive and low cost.

That being said, the reason(s) for infertility are so wide-ranging, it’s impossible to speculate on how successful treating your specific case will be. The good news is, there are options for virtually all fertility issues and technology continues to get better and more effective.

Secondary Infertility Treatment Options

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI is one of the fertility treatments lower in cost and invasiveness. It helps treat male infertility (e.g. men with low sperm count or misshapen sperm) by implanting sperm directly in the reproductive tract to help increase the chance of an egg being fertilized.

Using donor sperm increases the chances of success even more.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

In vitro fertilization is one of the most expensive and invasive fertility treatments, but also the most effective. IVF involves harvesting eggs and sperm from donors or parents and creating embryos in a lab that are then implanted into uterus of the mother or a surrogate.

Infertility Medications

Medications are available to address issues such as irregular ovulation. These fertility medications help balance hormones and regulate ovulation, which can often be a source of infertility.

Can secondary infertility be treated naturally?

The same natural treatments that may work for primary infertility can work for secondary infertility. However, these methods, which include things like charting your cycle and improving lifestyle, are often less efficient and more ineffective than modern medical treatments.

If age is causing secondary infertility, choosing a method that takes time may not yield the result you want. Ultimately the best treatment will be determined by the reason you are experiencing infertility. Your doctor can help you decide what may work for you.

Where can I get treatment for secondary infertility?

Fertility clinics treat all types of infertility. Secondary infertility is very common and any fertility well versed in primary infertility will also be able to address your secondary infertility.

How to cope with secondary infertility

It is common for issues with secondary fertility and depression to go hand in hand. Infertility can bring up feelings of guilt, inadequacy and selfishness—“I already have a child and others don’t; I should feel lucky.”

Do not discount your feelings. Anyone who desires to have a child and is hitting roadblocks naturally experiences these ups and downs. Getting medical advice, being open with your partner and seeking support are all ways to cope with secondary infertility.

What type of support is available for those facing secondary infertility?

There are many online forums and support groups available for parents just like you. Just because secondary fertility isn’t a common household topic does not mean it is not common. You are not alone!

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Short Menstrual Cycle

Your menstrual cycle can have a lot to say about your health and fertility. Each woman’s menstrual cycle is different, creating a wide range or normal. But are there times you should be concerned about how your body is functioning? Definitely.

Your menstrual cycle can be a window into your health.

What is a regular menstrual cycle?

Each month, your body goes through a series of changes to prepare for the possibility of getting pregnant. These changes are called the menstrual cycle. The cycle includes ovulation—when an egg is released by the ovaries.

In conjunction with ovulation, hormonal changes work to prepare the uterus for implantation. When a woman ovulates, but the egg is not fertilized, the lining of her uterus falls away through the vagina.

This part of the cycle is called a menstrual period, most often referred to simply as a period. The Follicular phase happens just before ovulation when follicles in the ovary mature.

Since it’s the only readily visible sign of where a woman is in her menstrual cycle, the first day of her period is used to mark the start of it and it lasts until her next period begins. The exact timing varies from woman to woman, with regular menstrual cycles happening every 21 to 35 days.

Regular periods last anywhere from two to seven days. Long cycles are common from when a woman starts her period through the few following years. As she gets older, they are likely to shorten and become more regular.

“Normal” periods come in many forms. Your cycle may come like clockwork and last for the same amount of time each month.

Or it may be somewhat irregular and still “normal.” Some are light, some heavy, you may feel pain and others are pain free. They may be long or short. These variances do not necessarily mean your period is not normal.

Generally, having regular periods means what’s regular to you. Some contraception choices, like birth control and IUDs can alter your cycle.

Your doctor can tell you what to expect. Woman approaching menopause also experience changes in the menstrual cycle. This is normal and no cause for concern.

What is a short menstrual cycle?

A menstrual cycle that lasts less than 21 days is considered short.

Is a short menstrual cycle normal?

A woman’s menstrual cycle naturally shortens as she gets older and approaches menopause. For women who are still in childbearing years, a short menstrual cycle may indicate that you are not ovulating normally, which can make getting pregnant more difficult.

If you’ve always had short menstrual cycles, it may just be how your body functions. But if you have short menstrual periods combined with a difficulty conceiving naturally, you may want to check in with your doctor.

What causes a short menstrual cycle?

Your menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, which can be influenced by many factors. If an imbalance of reproductive hormones caused by any number of factors occurs in the body, it may result in a short menstrual cycle.

Certain thyroid conditions, estrogen supplements, fibroids or polyps can all cause cycles that are shorter than normal.

How does stress affect menstrual cycles?

Stress plays a large role in many bodily functions and overall health. When the body experiences consistent or excessive stress it releases adrenaline and cortisol, which are stress hormones.

Adrenalines is the stress hormone that gives you an energy push and allows you to do things like pull an all nighter to get a project finished. Cortisol is the stress hormone that increases brain function and stops or slows nonessential bodily functions—digestive processes, cellular growth and the reproductive system.

Cortisol, derived from stress, is the culprit for why stress is linked to shorter menstrual periods. Cortisol can signal the brain to stop releasing reproductive hormones, interfering with ovulation and leading to shorter cycles. If cortisol levels are high and consistent enough, your menstrual cycle may stop all together.

How can I track my menstrual cycle?

You should begin tracking your menstrual cycle on the first day of your period for accurate results. You should capture when it starts and how long it lasts.

It will take several months for patterns to emerge, but you will be able to determine how regular—reminder this is a loose term—your menstrual cycle is. Knowing your menstrual cycle can also help time intercourse for conception. It should not be used to prevent pregnancy.

Does a short menstrual cycle affect fertility?

Oftentimes, menstrual cycles of less than 21 days indicate an issue with or absence of ovulation (“anovulation”). Short menstrual cycles affect fertility because if you do not ovulate, you cannot get pregnant.

Is a short menstrual cycle a cause for concern?

An abnormally short menstrual cycle may be a cause for concern if a) it’s less than 21 days long and/or b) you abruptly start having short cycles and are not approaching menopause.

When should you call your gynecologist about short menstrual cycles?

You should consult your doctor about short menstrual periods if they come on abruptly. Additionally, if you’ve always had short periods but then experience trouble getting pregnant, you should ask your doctor about it.

Why is your menstrual cycle getting shorter?

Your menstrual cycle may be getting shorter for many reasons. Menopause is the only “normal” reason that does not warrant a visit to the doctor. Other reasons include issues with ovulating and other reproductive health concerns.

Can a short menstrual cycle be a sign of pregnancy?

Getting what you think is your period early, which indicates a short menstrual cycle, could actually be an early pregnancy sign. Someone women get period-like symptoms shortly after conceiving and mistake them for their actual period.

Is it normal for menstrual cycle to change every month?

Even slight hormonal changes can affect your menstrual cycle. This is why variances in menstrual cycles, even when it seems to happen every month may still be normal.

That being said, no one but you and your doctor can make that determination. If things seem out of sync, especially if you notice a significant change in what was previously a pattern, you should consult your physician.

What causes menstrual cycle irregularities?

Menstrual cycle irregularities may be brought on by a variety of factors:

  • Stress: As discussed above, stress causes the release of hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), which can influence other “non-essential” body functions like reproductive processes
  • Extreme weight gain: Large, upward fluctuations in weight trigger the release of testosterone in the body, which can interfere with regular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive exercise: Over exercising puts stress on the body, which can impact hormone levels. If you exercise yourself to an unhealthy weight, the lack of body fat may also hinder your body from maintaining a regular menstrual cycle
  • Alcohol: Alcohol also impacts hormone levels and can put the body out of balance
  • Smoking: Cigarettes can cause irregularities in your cycle, as well as severe PMS and pain during your period as it alters levels of reproductive hormones in the body
  • Medical conditions: Serious conditions, such as PCOS and Thyroid Disease can cause significant month to month changes in your menstrual cycle

Can a short menstrual cycle cause early ovulation?

Not all woman who experience short cycles do not ovulate. Getting your period early may just be a sign of early ovulation and shorter Luteal phase, which occurs between ovulation and your period.

When do you ovulate with a short menstrual cycle?

If you ovulate and have a short cycle, you ovulate right after you period. This is why you are not guaranteed to stay childfree if you have sex during or just after your period.

What are the chances of getting pregnant with a short menstrual cycle?

Your chances of getting pregnant when you have a short menstrual cycle all depend on why your cycle is so short. It’s imperative to work with your doctor to identify the root cause.

If you naturally have a shorter cycle, getting pregnant on your own may not be a problem. But shorter cycles linked to things like stress, PCOS or Thyroid disease can make it more difficult to conceive.

Do menstrual cycles get shorter with age?

Periods generally get shorter as you approach menopause, but menstrual cycles do not necessarily change in length. It’s common for menstrual cycles to get very irregular as menopause approaches.

Are short menstrual cycles a sign of menopause?

Short or irregular menstrual cycles and periods are a common sign of menopause. If you are approaching an age when menopause usually occurs, short cycles are no cause for alarm.

However, you may want to talk to your doctor about treatment options should other menopausal symptoms come into play.

Can you prevent menstrual cycle irregularities?

Depending on the cause of your irregular cycle, they may be preventable. For example, diet and menstrual cycle are closely linked. Diets high in carbohydrates have been linked to causing irregular menstrual cycles.

Additionally, mitigating stress helps ward off irregular menstrual cycles.

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How to Track Ovulation

When do you ovulate?

Each woman’s average cycle length is slightly different, lasting anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Ovulation usually takes place 2 weeks after the first day of your period, which is also about 2 weeks before the start of your next period.

What are the signs and symptoms of ovulation?

While ovulation is not always or easily detectable, there are some signs or symptoms you may notice if you are tracking your body changes closely.

The most common sign of ovulation, which is experienced by up to 50% of women is cramping and abdominal pain in the low belly. The pain level is mild to moderate and can last anywhere from a few hours to about 48 hours.

The pain is often concentrated on one side of the low belly and is not as painful as menstrual cramps, but does have a similar sensation.

Your vaginal discharge and cervical mucus also change at the time of ovulation. As ovulation approaches, your vaginal discharge may increase and appear clear or creamy white in color 48 hours before ovulation.

Your cervical mucus also changes to aid in fertilization. During this time, it’s thinner and more slippery than other times during your cycle. It is most often compared to egg whites.

When the egg is released (ovulation) it causes a rupture, which may lead to mid-month bleeding. It will be lighter than a normal period and usually occurs as just a little bit of spotting about 2 weeks before you expect to get your period. Many women never experience mid-month spotting.

Some women also experience tender or sore breasts and a heightened sense of taste and/or smell when they are about to ovulate. These symptoms are harder to detect, but may be noticeable in conjunction with our signs.

Finally, your basal body temperature (BBT)—your lowest temperature at rest—increases slightly just before ovulation. This is arguably the most reliable sign of ovulation.

That’s why many women use BBT to track ovulation. See How do you track ovulation? below for more info.

What are the benefits of tracking ovulation?

The biggest benefit of tracking ovulation is that it helps plan sex for pregnancy. If you’ve had trouble getting pregnant even though you’ve been having unprotected sex, tracking ovulation can help you pinpoint the best times to have sex in order to conceive.

It can also highlight irregularities in your menstrual cycle that may be a signal of infertility issues and can guide a conversation with your doctor. Tracking ovulation should never be used as a birth control method.

How do you track ovulation?

Use an Ovulation Predictor Test

Ovulation Predictor Tests are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies as well as online. These tests rely on a urine sample to detect signs of ovulation.

Generally, you begin testing when you expect ovulation is near, 14 days after your last period started. Once you receive a positive result, you can expect ovulation to occur within 1–2 days.

Calculating from Your Menstrual Cycle

The length of your menstrual cycle is the time between the first day of your last period and the first day of the subsequent period. Since many women’s menstrual cycles vary in length, you should use the average length of your cycles for as long as you’ve been tracking.

You may consider using an ovulation app or one of the many available online ovulation calculators to help your track.

Ovulation occurs about 14 days prior to getting your period. That means if you cycle is the average length of 28 days, you’re fertile window is 12–14 days after getting your period.

If you have a longer cycle, say 35 days, your fertile window is 19–21 days after your period. For women with a shorter cycle, for example 21 days, 7–10 days after your period is your fertile window.

Recording Your Basal Body Temperature

As mentioned above, your BBT is the most accurate sign of ovulation. You can measure BBT using a basal body temperature thermometer, which is a special thermometer that is more precise and measures in smaller increments than a regular thermometer.

You should record your BBT every day before getting out of bed. As patterns begin to emerge, you will see a slight spike in BBT just before ovulation. After a month or two of charting BBT, you can begin trying to time sex with ovulation.

Examining Your Cervical Mucus

Glands in and around the cervix secrete cervical mucus, which works to either prevent things from entering the cervix or help sperm enter the cervix when a woman is ovulating. Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle cause changes in the consistency of the mucus to aid in either of its tasks.

A couple days before ovulation, your cervical mucus will resemble egg whites. When you see this indicator you are in or just outside the fertile window. You will need to use your fingers to manually check your cervical mucus.

Use clean hands and get a sample from as close to the cervix as possible for the most accurate results.

Resting Pulse Rate

A 2017 study showed that resting pulse rate rose two days before ovulation. Resting pulse rates is lowest when you’re on your period and can increase as much as 2 BPM as many as five days before ovulation.

Are these methods for tracking ovulation accurate?

Methods for tracking ovulation are generally pretty accurate, especially if you are someone who experiences regular menstrual cycles. Many women choose to use multiple tracking methods, which help strengthen results for better accuracy.

What is the most accurate method to track ovulation?

Ovulation predictor tests are the most accurate method for tracking ovulation. Next to ovulation predictor tests, charting BBT is one of the most accurate methods, but also takes the most time and consistency.

When is the best time to track ovulation?

Ovulation predictor tests will come with instructions that tell you when to track for best results. If you are using the BBT tracking method, you need to take your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed for the most accurate results. Other methods are not as time sensitive.

How long after ovulation are you fertile?

After you ovulate, you are still fertile for 1–2 days.

Can tracking ovulation be used to prevent pregnancy?

Ovulation tracking is nowhere near accurate enough to be used as birth control. Menstrual cycles change often and suddenly and you should never rely on self-reported patterns to prevent pregnancy.

How do you track ovulation with irregular periods?

For women with irregular periods, all tracking methods except calculating your menstrual cycle are good options to try. You may consider ovulation predictor kits as your first choice as they rely least on patterns and consistent tracking.

How do you track ovulation with PCOS?

Women with PCOS do not experience regular periods. The same tracking methods, aside from calculating menstrual cycle, can be used to detect when ovulation is coming.

When can you track ovulation after miscarriage?

Your body may ovulate as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. However, it’s wise to at least wait until you’ve had one period before tracking ovulation and trying to get pregnant again. The most important thing during the weeks following a miscarriage is to let your body readjust.

Can you track ovulation while on birth control?

Birth control pills inhibit the body from ovulating, which is how they work to prevent pregnancy. Since birth control prevents ovulation, there is no ovulation to track if you are on the pill.

Can you track ovulation to improve your chances of having a girl or a boy?

According to the Shettles method, you can increase your chances of having a girl by timing conception 3–4 days before ovulation. If you desire a boy, time sex no more than one day before ovulation and no more than 12 hours after.

Does ovulation always happen on the exact day of calculated ovulation?

The menstrual cycle is a finicky thing that often changes without warning. Every single ovulation tracking method can get it wrong at times.

What are the chances of pregnancy when tracking ovulation?

Tracking ovulation to find your fertile window can increase your chances of getting pregnant by 30%. If a 30% chance of conceiving during the estimated fertility window doesn’t seem like a lot, just think of the 0–10% chance you have on other days of the month.

Consciously tracking ovulation can have huge affects on how quickly you conceive.

What if the tracking ovulation method does not work?

While tracking ovulation can help some couple with minor fertility issues, like irregular periods, it is not a common cure for most infertility issues. Many couples that have trouble getting pregnant need medical intervention to help them conceive.

If you are tracking ovulation and are unable to get pregnant, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help determine what, if any, fertility issues are present in both partners and how they may be treated.

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How to Increase Sperm Count

How much sperm count is normal?

When a man ejaculates there are usually tons of sperm swimming in his semen. But for couples who have trouble conceiving through natural methods (e.g. timing Intercourse), he may begin to wonder if his semen is as “potent” as it should be.

The normal level for sperm count is at least 20 million (yes, million!) per mL. A man ejaculates about 2 mL at a time.

You’ve probably heard that sperm are fragile. It’s one of the reasons it takes so many to be present in order to conceive. About 75% of the sperm should be alive when they leave the body, leaving the remaining 25% dead on arrival, if you will.

Around 30% should be normal size and shape and one quarter should be rapidly swimming forward.

As I’m sure you’re thinking, these numbers aren’t very meaningful without a semen analysis to tell you where you or your partner stands or just how off from normal his counts may be.

What are the signs of low sperm count?

Low sperm count is the biggest cause of male infertility and having issues conceiving is the most common symptom. Other symptoms, especially seen in more extreme cases, include: signs of hormone or chromosome abnormalities, such as a decrease in body and/or facial hair; swelling, pain or a lump in the testicles or surrounding area; and issues with sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction or low sex drive.

Why does sperm count matter?

If in the end it only takes one sperm to conceive a baby, so it seems you should only need one strong and normal sperm to make it to the egg to be successful, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. There’s a reason normal semen carries a sperm concentration of 20 million sperm per mL.

It’s true that only one sperm can fertilize an egg (aside from the rare case of twins), but it takes many sperm to make that happen. The egg is covered with a layer that the sperm travel through.

One sperm cannot do it alone. Rather, many “lay” on the layer until one is able to break through. You may think of this like a piñata—lots of people try to break through, but only one does in the end.

Additionally, many sperm have genetic defaults that do not make them suitable to create life. By nature essentially creating a “best man wins” scenario,” it encourages second-rate sperm to be left behind.

The human body does it’s best to increase the chance of success at creating life, which includes controls to mitigate the mutations as much as possible in the first few days of fertilization. In fact, many fertilized eggs are “rejected” in those first few hours if they are genetically incomplete.

Many of the miscarriages that are so common in the first 12 weeks are also due to these controls.

How does sperm count affect fertility?

The potency and quality of sperm both affect fertility. Abnormal sperm count may lead to difficulty getting pregnant, making it through the first trimester without miscarrying or carrying a healthy baby to term.

Generally speaking, low sperm count leaves much room for error in an already complicated process.

Are there treatments for increasing sperm count?

There are many treatments—hormonal, medicinal and natural—for increasing sperm count.

Hormone treatments and medications

In cases where the cause of low sperm count is an imbalance of hormones or an issue with how the body is using those hormones, your doctor may suggest medications or hormone replacement therapy. The parts of the brain that regulate hormone production related to reproducing are called the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

In those cases, the gondatropin treatment, where human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and recombinant human follicle stimulating hormone (rhFSH) are used, is the most common treatment for male infertility. It includes medications and/or hormone injections and monitoring testosterone levels.

Assisted reproductive technology

There are a variety of assisted reproductive technology (ART) options to address male infertility, such as IUI, which extracts sperm from a partner or donor and implants it directly into the female reproductive tract for higher success rates. More intensive ART services, such as IVF, also address male infertility.

How can you increase sperm count naturally?

Keep a healthy weight and diet

Eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains and legumes can help increase sperm count. Foods like dark chocolate, walnuts, bananas, carrots and spinach have all been said to have positive effects on male fertility.

Being too far to either side of the weight spectrum can reduce sperm count. Eating and weighing too little may lead to lower sex drive and changes in the structure of reproductive tissue, which can cause infertility.

Eating and weighing too much is linked to impotence and low sperm count, which may be caused by increased temperature around the testicles from excess fat.


As you might expect, testosterone plays a large role in male reproductive processes. Because of this, increasing testosterone levels naturally can have a positive effect on sperm count and male fertility.

Exercise is one of the best ways to increase testosterone naturally. Weight lifting has been proven to be the most effective type of exercise to increase male fertility as muscle mass correlates to testosterone levels.

Avoid drugs

From prescribed medications to illegal substances—drugs are just plain bad for male fertility. While many prescribed medications have serious effects on male fertility, DO NOT discontinue any prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.

Don’t smoke

Smoking is categorically horrible for fertility. Both partners should stop smoking immediately if they wish to get pregnant as cigarettes can negatively influence the process from conception to birth.

Smoking not only lowers sperm count and decreases sperm motility, it can lead to ovulation problems, more miscarriages, birth defects and reproductive damage. Quitting is difficult. Ask for help.

Reduce alcohol

Alcohol consumption has been directly linked to sperm count. If you want to increase your sperm count, reduce your alcohol intake or, better yet, eliminate alcohol from your diet if you are serious about increasing sperm count.

Alcohol influences sperm count because it is processed in the liver. Processing alcohol through the liver increases estrogen levels and hinders sperm production.

Take D-AA supplements

While you likely haven’t heard of D-aspartic acid (D-AA), it can be helpful in restoring male fertility. D-AA is a type of amino acid that you can buy as a dietary supplement.

Be careful not to confuse it with L-aspartic acid, a much more commonly taken amino acid that makes up the structure of multiple proteins. D-AA is present mostly in glands, including the testicles, and in semen and sperm.

Research suggests that D-AA is a factor in male infertility, as levels of D-AA have been found to be significantly lower in men who are infertile. Taking 2.66 grams of D-AA per day for three months has been shown to increase sperm count and motility by 60–100%.

Get enough C and D vitamins

Studies have linked vitamin C and D consumption to increased sperm count. Taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C twice a day for up to two months increased sperm count by more than 100% and sperm motility by more than 92% Additionally, it showed a 50% reduction in the proportion of deformed sperm cells.

Vitamin D has been linked to testosterone levels. Men with low testosterone levels who took 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for one year saw around a 25% increase in testosterone levels. In some cases, high vitamin D levels have also been linked to greater sperm motility.

What foods should you avoid when trying to increase sperm count?

Pesticides and preservatives

Consuming pesticides and preservatives have been shown to decrease sperm production by more than 50%. Choose organic produce and meats to keep sperm count from dropping because of it.

Soy products

Soy is generally considered a healthy food but it is not recommended for men with fertility issues. Soy is full of isoflavones, which are linked to low sperm quality. One study showed that men who consumed high amounts of soy decreased sperm production by close to half.

Too much sugar

Consuming just one sugary drink daily can decrease sperm count by up to 20 percent.

Processed foods

Processed foods contain lots of preservatives, which are not friendly to sperm count. Regularly eating processed meat, for example, can lower sperm count and increase deformed sperm count by 30%.

Full fat dairy

Modern milk production often uses hormones, which are not friends to male fertility. Choose low-, non-fat or alternative (e.g. almond) milks when trying to increase sperm count.

How long does it take to increase sperm count?

The life cycle of a sperm—from creation to maturation to ejaculation—is about 72 days. Therefore, it takes about two to three months to see any improvements in sperm count.

The process however, can be slow as it’s rare that a fertility treatment essentially “flips the switch” of fertility in one sweep. With hormone therapy for example, it can take up to two years to reach normal fertility.

The root cause(s) of male fertility have the most bearing on how soon you can expect to see an increase in sperm count.

What if treatments to increase sperm count do not work?

For couples who’ve exhausted options to improve male fertility that make sense for them, but are still experiencing issues with male fertility, electing to use donor sperm or adopting a child are additional avenues to consider exploring.

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Oligomenorrhea: Symptoms and Pregnancy Effects

What is Oligomenorrhea?

Oligomenorrhea is categorized as light or infrequent menstrual periods, also known as anovulatory cycles, in women of childbearing age. Some fluctuations in menstruation are normal, but women who often go more than 35 days without a period may be diagnosed with the condition.

Because the menstrual cycle also affects ovulation, most women who experience Oligomenorrhea also experience fertility issues and may have trouble conceiving naturally.

Regular periods usually happen every 21 to 35 days. An Oligomenorrhea diagnosis is usually given if you go 90 days without one or have nine or fewer menstrual cycles per year.

Some doctors reserve the diagnosis for women who at one time experienced regularity in their cycle and then experience these kind of inconsistencies. Generally, women with Oligomenorrhea get just four to nine periods per year.

By definition, Oligomenorrhea is not diagnosable unless regular menstrual cycles have previously been established. In America by the age of 16, 97.5% of women have started regular menstrual cycles.

The absence of periods all together—whether they never start or stop completely—is called Amenorrhea. If periods stop for six months or more the Oligomenorrhea diagnosis is likely to be changed to Amenorrhea.

Most women experience irregular periods at the beginning and end of their reproductive lives. This is not categorized as Oligomenorrhea.

It occurs because of imbalanced coordination between the hypothalamus, ovaries and pituitary gland. Some women naturally menstruate only every other month and ovulate regularly each time.

This is not considered Oligomenorrhea. Rather, inconsistent cycles mark the condition.

How does Oligomenorrhea affect fertility?

Irregular menstrual periods are a sign of anovulation, irregular or abnormal ovulation. If you do not ovulate, you cannot conceive.

Because of this, virtually all cases of Oligomenorrhea affect fertility. Depending on the root cause and how irregular our periods are affects how much having Oligomenorrhea influences fertility.

Some women with Oligomenorrhea are able to conceive naturally, but it is often more difficult since they do not have as many opportunities to conceive.

Symptoms of Oligomenorrhea

Oligomenorrhea symptoms include:

  • Experience menstrual periods more than 35 days apart
  • Irregular menstrual periods and an unpredictable flow
  • Trouble conceiving

Causes of Oligomenorrhea

If you suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), you are likely to experience Oligomenorrhea. In women with PCOS, small cysts form on the ovaries.

This can cause a range of changes to the regular menstrual cycle from Oligomenorrhea to Amenorrhea to very heavy menstrual bleeding and frequent periods. Roughly 6% of women in childbearing age experience PCOS. The condition is related to a surplus production of androgens (male hormones).

For women with PCOS, the likely cause of Oligomenorrhea is irregular levels of male and female hormones. Male hormones are present in small amounts in all women.

In women with PCOS, there is an overproduction of androgens, which is theorized as the root cause of PCOS. However, in the last couple of decades, some research has suggested that PCOS is caused by other abnormalities in the ovaries, including fundamental differences in the development of follicles.

There are many other physical and emotional stressors that can lead to Oligomenorrhea, including: chronic illness, estrogen-secreting tumors, poor nutrition, emotional stress, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, performance-enhancing steroid drugs and excessive exercise.

Professional athletes, especially ice skaters, ballet dancers and gymnasts are at a high risk for Oligomenorrhea as their lifestyle calls for the combination of many of these stressors, like strict diet and heavy exercise. It is so common in fact, that Oligomenorrhea has been labeled as part of the “female athlete triad” of disorders, which also includes eating disorders and osteoporosis.

Since the 1990s awareness has grown about the risk and, though it has not been mitigated, the medical community has taken a larger stake in prevention. Oligomenorrhea usually occurs in athletes when body fat percentage drops too low.

When women in their adolescence experience Oligomenorrhea the ovaries, hypothalamus and pituitary glad being out of sync usually cause it. The hypothalamus is the part of brain that regulates many basic bodily functions.

Through hormone secretion, it regulates the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland secretes it’s own hormones, which regulate reproductive processes, like that in the ovaries. If synchronization is off between any of these reactions, it can lead to irregular menstruation.

Women with a history of endometrial cancer or endometrial hyperplasia are also at high risk for Oligomenorrhea.

Diagnosis of Oligomenorrhea


The diagnosis of Oligomenorrhea begins with you. If you are experiencing irregular periods, tell your doctor.

Oligomenorrhea is not a condition that will come up on a test at your yearly check up. The doctor will ask questions and chart your history to look for patterns. If you have an opportunity to record your menstrual activity (frequency, time, length, flow), do so, as any information will help.


The next step is a physical exam to check things like weight, signs of normal reproductive development and regular vital signs. The doctor will also physically examine the thyroid gland to see if it may be swollen. A pelvic examine is also likely to be performed.

Lab test

From there, your doctor will perform a Pap test to check for specific causes of Oligomenorrhea that may be present. He or she may also do a test to check thyroid hormone levels or monitor estrogen levels.


In some instances, your doctor may order an ultrasound to check for anatomical abnormalities in the pelvis, an x-ray to rule out bone fractures or an MRI to check for potential tumors affecting the pituitary glad or hypothalamus.

Treatment Options for Oligomenorrhea

The cause of Oligomenorrhea determines the treatment plan. Many women with Oligomenorrhea are treated effectively with birth control pills, which help regulate hormones and the menstrual cycle.

For women, such as athletes, experiencing Oligomenorrhea because of lifestyle and stress, eliminating those stressors can cure Oligomenorrhea completely. Addressing these treatable problems may benefit from mental health support to help change habits.

Women with Oligomenorrhea caused by PCOS are treated with hormones. Your doctor can identify specifically which hormones are out of balance and prescribe what’s needed to even them out.

Natural Therapies for Oligomenorrhea

If you want to know how to get regular periods naturally, you do have options. If a hormone imbalance is identified, tri-estrogen and natural progesterone are considered more “natural” treatments. Some women have also found help through acupuncture, mediation, herbs and diet changes.

While these approaches work best for women experiencing Oligomenorrhea due to external forces, they can be helpful for women with internal imbalances as well.

The prognosis of Oligomenorrhea

With the right treatment plan, many women are successfully treated for Oligomenorrhea and reach a place of more frequent and regular periods and ovulation. Most women find success treating their Oligomenorrhea through hormone therapy.

Again, it very much depends on the origin of the Oligomenorrhea, but there are many therapies available to try to solve the problem.

Is it possible to get pregnant with Oligomenorrhea?

It is possible to get pregnant with Oligomenorrhea. Some couples conceive naturally, but many need the help of infertility treatments to conceive.

Figuring out how to conceive with irregular periods is a common fertility issue. Many times, fertility drugs alone will do the trick, while other instances may call for utilizing fertility treatments like artificial insemination or IVF.

Oligomenorrhea itself does not cause pregnancy complications, but underlying causes of your irregular menstruation can be. It’s important to inform your doctor of irregular patterns, even if you’ve conceived without treatment.

How to Improve Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant with Oligomenorrhea

Figuring out how to conceive with irregular periods is a common fertility issue. Hormones or fertility drugs are most commonly used to increase your chance of getting pregnant with Oligomenorrhea.

Both approaches attempt to reengage a normal menstrual cycle so ovulation occurs normally and you are able to conceive. If these treatments do not work, couples may choose to move on to other fertility treatments, like IUI and IVF to increase their chances of conceiving.

When to call your doctor about menstrual disorders

Menstrual disorders are not likely to come up during a routine doctors visit. You know your body best and should consult your doctor if you experience menstrual irregularities or abnormal bleeding patterns, especially if menstrual periods are spaced more than 35 days apart.

Experiencing one or two off cycles does not usually indicate Oligomenorrhea, but if inconsistencies start to become the norm, it’s time to talk with your doctor about medical treatment, even if you are not trying to conceive at that time as it can be a warning sign of future infertility problems.

Additionally, if you are experiencing irregular periods and pregnancy signs, you may be pregnant and should consult your doctor as many women’s periods to not stop completely in the early stages of pregnancy.

Prevention of Oligomenorrhea

PCOS is not preventable, but Oligomenorrhea caused by low body fat is preventable and often reversible. Reasonable exercise schedules and adequate nutrition help keep body fat in check to prevent Oligomenorrhea.

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Fertility Charts: How to Chart Your Cycle

Why is charting important?

By charting your cycle, you can predict when you will ovulate in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant by timing intercourse with ovulation. In addition to charting aiding in informing you and if and when you will ovulate, it’s also a tool to tell you when to take certain fertility supplements and also keep track of previous doses.

Keeping either a written or digital chart helps you tap into the inner workings of your fertility, including fluctuations of hormones, so you can get to know your most fertile days and use them to your advantage as you try to start or grow your family.

If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, one of the first courses of action to take is to chart your cycle in hopes of finding emerging patterns that signal fertility. Charting your cycle and identifying your most fertile days will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Your body sends out many signs during your cycle that tell you where you are in it, but you need to be trained to look for them. Charting will help you do that.

Fertility Charting Basics

What is the “fertile window”?

The fertile window spans the days that a woman is most fertile during her menstrual cycle. This is on the day of ovulation and about 4 days prior.

Fertility awareness method

The fertility awareness method refers to using fertility charting as a means of natural family planning. Proponents use charting to identify non-fertile days when it’s safe to have sex and not get pregnant.

They avoid days that he charting patterns indicate are in the fertile window.

Observing and recording your basic fertility signs

Charting your cycle involves capturing a variety of information:

  • Your daily basal body temperature, which is your lowest temperature at rest
  • Characteristics of your cervical mucus each day, which offer insight into whether or not you’re ovulating
  • When your period begins
  • Each time you have sex

All of this information combines to help you understand your cycle of fertility. Knowing these things can make a big difference in whether or not you get pregnant.

The average couple (without fertility issues) conceives after 5 or 6 months of trying. But couples who use fertility charting to identify when a woman releases an egg during ovulation increase their chances of getting pregnant by knowing when to have sex with the highest odds of conceiving.

Primary fertility signs:

Waking or basal body temperature (BBT)

Basal body temperature, or BBT, is your lowest body temperature at rest. It dips when you ovulate and can therefore be charted and examined for emerging patterns that can help you predict when you will ovulate next so you can time sex for conception.

Cervical fluid

The color and texture of cervical fluid changes during your menstrual cycle. Tracking these characteristics can help you determine when you are most fertile.

Cervical Position

Estrogen levels also produce observable changes in the cervical position, which can predict fertility. Cervical position provides the same information as cervical mucus, so it may not be necessary to measure if you’re able to clearly detect changes in your cervical mucus.

How to measure BBT

Charting your BBT is one of the longest standing ways of predicting ovulation. Knowing this information has helped many women get pregnant.

Right before ovulation, your BBT is usually about 97 to 97.5 degrees fahrenheit. This number can vary from person to person, but is usually consistent cycle to cycle in the same woman.

When you ovulate, the body releases a hormone called progesterone. The increase in progesterone causes the basal body temperature to rise slightly (by about .5 degrees) a day or two after ovulation and it is likely to remain higher until your next menstrual cycle begins.

If you become pregnant, your BBT will stay around this temperature.

Since the change happens after ovulation, charting is the key to finding patterns in your cycle—hopefully in your first month of charting—that can be used to predict ovulation in subsequent months and get pregnant as quickly as possible.

You should start taking your basal body temperature the second day of your period. For accurate results, you must take your BBT first thing in the morning before getting out of bed (even to go to the bathroom). This is why you cannot usually start charting on day one of your period.

You will need a basal body thermometer, which measures temperature more accurately (to a tenth of a degree) than a regular thermometer. They are affordable (about $15) and readily available online and in drug stores.

You may take your temperature any way you choose—the easiest being by mouth—and should use the same method every day. Record your BBT daily. If doing so by hand, plot the days on the X axis and temperature on the Y axis, connecting the dots as you plug in daily data points.

Eventually the line will show a pattern of when temperature rises each month and you will know that ovulation proceeds the bump.

How to identify cervical fluid

Some sources say that tracking changes in your cervical fluid is even more accurate than charting BBT. The cervix is a strip of tissue that connects the uterus and vagina.

As you get close to ovulating, the cervix releases more mucus to aid the sperm as it journeys to the egg. When you are not ovulating, the cervix closes up and does not release much mucus since you cannot get pregnant anyway.

Cervical mucus that indicates fertility is clear and stretchy. The most common comparison is to egg whites. Tracking the consistency of your cervical mucus throughout your cycle can help you identify which days you’re most fertile.

A typical pattern looks something like:

  • Menstruation for days 1 through 5
  • No mucus, vagina is dry for days 6 through 9
  • Thick, sticky mucus becomes thinner and whiter during days 10 through 12
  • Mucus is stretchy, slippery, thin and clear (like egg whites) on your most fertile days–13 through 15
  • Mucus gets thick and sticky again days 16 through 21
  • Vagina is dry days 22 through 28

Your cycle may look different, which is why consistently charting the changes in your own body is so crucial. You should check your cervical mucus daily.

You can do so by swiping clean fingers over the opening of your vagina where you’ll find the mucus. Examine it between your fingers and write down your findings.

For the most accurate results, avoid using a douche or use of spermicides while tracking your cervical mucus.

2-day method

The 2-day method of tracking cervical mucus involves asking two questions—Did I notice any mucus secretions yesterday? Did I notice any today? If the answer to both questions is “yes” you are potentially fertile. If the answer to both questions is “no,” it is not probable that you will get pregnant if you have sex that day.

How to track cervical changes

Before ovulation, the cervix softens, opens and heightens to allow sperm to travel through it and into the uterus. Following ovulation, the tissues firm up, and the cervix closes and returns to a lower position.

You can feel your cervix if you put two fingers in your vagina.

Just following menstruation and proceeding your period of peak fertility, the cervix is low, firm and hard and easy to feel with your fingers. It should feel like the tip of your nose.

As you reach your most fertile days, it straightens and lifts and becomes higher, softer and more open as estrogen levels increase. Always make sure to use clean hands and caution when feeling your cervix.

How to start charting

There are many charting tools out there, from paper templates to period tracking apps to more robust fertility tracking software. The biggest key to starting your cycle charting journey is to pick a method of recording that you can stick with.

The process is tedious, long and highly dependent on consistency. Once you have a tool you think will be best for you, you should start charting on the first day of your period as it’s the most visible marker to where you are in your menstrual cycle.

Same time each day

Fertility signs can be extremely subtle changes. To help ensure accuracy you should chart your cycle the same time each day.

This is beneficial when charting each of the signs—basal body temperature, cervical mucus and cervical position. It’s best to do them all at the same time when you first wake up in the morning, and before getting out of bed.

This method will yield the most accurate results possible.

How to read your chart

The goal of all this painstaking charting is to get enough data (at least a month’s worth) to start seeing patterns emerge. Since BBT is numbers based, you will begin to chart a trend line.

The hope is that you will see when the small spike in BBT occurs during your cycle so that you know when ovulation is coming (just before the spike). Be cautious of getting hung up on an outlier data point here or there as these are common.

The longer you chart your cycle, the easier the chart will be to read and the more visible the fertility signs will be.

How to find your most fertile days

Women have about 5 fertile days per month, which are those leading up to ovulation and the day of. By understanding the inner workings of your menstrual cycle—which can be achieved through charting—you’ll begin to see when ovulation occurs.

Once you know that, you know that you most fertile days are that day and the few leading up to it.

How effective is the fertility charting method?

Fertility charting has been known to help couples get pregnant 5 to 7 times faster than couples who do not chart. The charting method can be especially helpful for couples experiencing fertility issues.

While it can be a tedious process, it can pay off big. Charting is a way to ensure that you capitalize on the fertility windows available to you as much as possible.

Can this method be used as natural birth control?

Some people have had success using fertility charting as a means of natural birth control. However, it is not widely recommended by the medical community as a recommended form of birth control.

The argument in favor is that if charting can so closely identify fertile days, then it can be used to identify both safe and unsafe days. But, just as charting is not a surefire way of getting pregnant, it is by no means a surefire way of avoiding pregnancy.

In addition, charting your fertility signs does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and infections. The bottom line is that charting your cycle is a much better tool for helping you get pregnant versus providing peace of mind that it will be avoided.

Is charting your cycle right for you?


If you’ve had any trouble getting pregnant, there’s not much reason to not give charting your cycle a try. The great thing about charting your cycle as a fertility tool is that it’s exceptionally low cost—just the $15 or so to buy a basal body thermometer.

There are tons of free and low-cost tools to help your track all your fertility signs, many of which event plot the data points and can analyze patterns for you. Charting your cycle also helps you get more in tune with your body by highlighting when things like stress and fluctuating hormones may be affecting you.

Finally, one advantage of charting your cycle is that it can replace certain costly doctors appointments by accelerating your fertility discussion.


The downsides of cycle charting that it’s tedious and can be quite a chore. It also takes keen observation skills and a lot of intimate poking and prodding of your body.

Since the noticeable changes are so minute, it can be difficult to get accurate readings and data, which makes it difficult to make the method work for you.

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What is the Shettles Method?

The Shettles Method

Have you ever heard that you can influence the gender of your baby? What was likely being referenced is something called the Shettles Method.

The Shettles Method is founded on the idea that not only do X chromosomes and Y chromosomes carrying sperm have differing characteristics, but that parents have the ability to influence one or the other making to the egg, in turn resulting in the intentional selection of a baby of one gender or another.

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding this method and there is absolutely no guarantee that the Shettles Method will result in a baby of a certain gender. Despite the uncertainty, the good news is that engaging in the Shettles Method is in no way harmful to mom or baby, so there’s really nothing to lose if you’re hoping for a specifically gendered little one.

How Does the Shettles Method work?

The sex of your baby is determined by the sperm that fertilizes the egg. As you know, some sperm carry the X chromosome and result in a baby girl and some carry the Y chromosome and result in a baby boy.

The Shettles Method purports that sperm carrying the X and Y chromosome carry different characteristics and we can use those characteristics to encourage one type of sperm or the other to fertilize the egg over the other, thus swaying sex in that direction.

Based on these assumptions about the characteristics of X and Y chromosome carrying sperm, the Shettles Method claims that couples can engage in acts that influence one type of sperm or the other to fertilize the egg, thus choosing the sex of their baby.

These influential acts include timing intercourse, choosing certain positions, using abstinence to your advantage, controlling vaginal pH and strategically planning orgasms. We’ll go more in-depth into each of these later.

Where did it come from?

The Shettle Method was established by Landrum B. Shettles in the 1960s. The book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, coauthored by Shettle, popularized the method when it was first published in 1971. David Rorvik was Shettles’ co-author.

The book is still in print today and outlines various ways, not just the Shettles Method, couples may use to try to influence the sex of their baby. It was revised and republished most recently in 2006.

Doctor Shettles has since passed away, but his method remains very much in play with couples looking to sway the sex of their baby at conception.

What Is the Shettles Method Success Rate?

According to Doctor Shettles, the success rate of successfully choosing a baby boy or girl using the Shettles Method is 80–85% for parents trying for a boy and 75–80% for those trying for a girl.

How accurate is it?

It is difficult to measure how accurate the Shettles Method actually is. After all, even completely unfounded methods for swaying a baby’s sex will get gender selection right 50% of the time.

There are no shortage of stories of Shettles “opposites” being born of the undesired gender, and also no shortage of stories of parents who swear the Shettles Method is fully responsible for bringing a desired baby boy or girl into their home. The bottom line is that you must be fully prepared and okay with bringing either gender into your family as there is no way to guarantee gender aside from IVF gender selection.

Interestingly, couples who’ve had two children of the same sex are 75% more likely to have another baby of the same gender. This is because having two children of the same gender is an indicator that the male has more boy or girl sperm.

This is why you hear about families of all girls or all boys–many times going back generations with little or no representation of the other gender.

Benefits of the Shettles Method

The Shettle Method is the most affordable gender selection method, costing you only the price of a book if you don’t feel satisfied with the many online sources who can walk you through it for free. It also involves both partners, creating a sense of contribution and closeness on both their parts.

Engaging in the Shettles Method encourages body awareness and learning about and understanding fertility as a whole. Nothing suggested by the Shettles Method is damaging to the body or your future baby.

Finally, the Shettles Method is considered a natural way to sway gender, making it beneficial for individuals whose personal beliefs may conflict with sex selection.

Disadvantages of the Shettles Method

One disadvantage of the Shettles Method is that it’s easier to conceive a boy than a girl, so it may not be as effective if you’re hoping to sway the sex to female. Timing intercourse for the Shettles Method can lower your chances of conception overall, making it less likely to get pregnant.

This is especially a disadvantage for couples experiencing any fertility issues. Sticking to the Shettles Method involves time, planning and self-restraint, which is difficult to maintain. It takes both partners to get it right.

Finally, another disadvantage of the Shettles Method is that it can get a couple’s hopes up for having one gender or the other, but not pan out that way, leading to disappointment. The Shettles Method is never a guarantee of one gendered baby or another and should not be treated that way.

Key Factors When Using the Shettles Method


According to Doctor Shettles, timing is the single most important factor in making the Shettles Method work for you. According to him, the timing of sex has a direct influence on the gender of your future baby.

Having sex closer to the date of ovulation is said to make it more likely that you’ll have a boy. This is because of male sperm’s tendency to be speedier than female sperm and therefore likely to reach the egg sooner.

One thing to note is that some studies have shown no variance in the speed of X and Y chromosome carrying sperm.

On timing, the Shettles Method suggest having intercourse about 12 hours before ovulation at the peak of cervical mucus to have a boy. To have a girl, it suggests having sex 2 to 4 days before ovulation since female sperm are said to live longer and therefore have more time to travel to the egg.


According to the Shettles Method, couples hoping for a boy should not have unprotected sex for 4 to 5 days before ovulation. Those hoping for a girl should have sex as much as possible during the days between your last period and 2 to 4 days before ovulation. Then avoid intercourse until 2 to 3 days after ovulation.

Sexual Position

Sexual position is claimed to influence the sex fo your baby because of pH and penetration levels. The opening of the vagina is more acidic, so it’s conducive to having a boy if the sperm doesn’t travel through this area.

Positions that allow for deeper penetration help male sperm avoid this area and make it move likely to conceive a boy. Doctor Shettle suggest missionary to up your chances of having a girl.

Vaginal pH

Claims from Doctor Shettle suggest that the level of acidity in the vagina is favorable to X chromosome sperm because they are strong and bigger. The smaller, weaker male sperm are said to be killed off first.

On the day of ovulation, the vaginal environment is more alkaline and hospitable to male sperm, making it prime time to conceive a boy.


According to Shettles, couples hoping for a girl should avoid female orgasm during sex. However, those hoping for a boy are encouraged to orgasm at the same time or encourage multiple female orgasms.

Shettles purports that the waves of the orgasm can help draw the sperm toward the egg and give the speedier male sperm a head start.


The temperature of a man’s testicles can influence the sex of your future baby. Couples aiming for a boy should be sure the father keeps his testicles cool by avoiding tight clothing, hot tubs and baths.

Heat can kill sperm and male sperm are more sensitive and likely to be offed by high temperatures.

Difference between the boy and girl sperm

Y chromosome carrying sperm are said to be smaller and faster than their X carrying counterparts, making it easier for them to get to the egg quickly. That being said, they are also known to be less hardy and resilient, or in other words, more fragile than X carrying sperm.

Male sperm do no live as long as female sperm and die off much earlier due to this abbreviated life span. Male sperm are more alkaline resistant, meaning they’re more likely to thrive in higher pH environments.

This is important because pH in a woman’s vagina changes throughout her menstrual cycle. Y sperm do not do as well in acidic environments as X sperm.

X chromosome carrying sperm are purported to be slower and less mobile, but better equipped to handle the cervic’s acidic environment that precedes the production of fertile cervical fluid. They are bigger than male sperm and live longer, allowing them to fertilize an egg for a longer period than the Y carrying sperm can. They thrive better in an acidic pH environment.

Shettles Method for having a boy

  • Track fertility through basal body temperature charting and have sex when you are more fertile—when you are about to ovulate or just have. This is said to work because male sperm are faster and do not live as long.
  • Stay abstinent until right before ovulation when you are most fertile.
  • Try positions that allow for deeper penetration to encourage the sperm to arrive as close to the cervix as they can.
  • Orgasming at the same time can encourage male sperm to get where they need to go to have a boy.
  • Indulge in some caffeine via coffee or chocolate before sex, which makes Y sperm even more active.

Shettles Method for having a girl

  • Have lots of sex before ovulation. Track when you ovulate and cervical mucus changes to know when ovulation is coming using a tool like an ovulation kit.
  • Try shallow penetration positions, such as missionary.
  • The more often a man ejaculates, the lower the number of male sperm. If he orgasms more, you’re more likely to have a girl.
  • Woman should avoid having orgasms, which initiate contractions in the pelvic floor that help male sperm get to the egg.

Can diet affect the baby’s gender?

Studies released as recently as 2018 have found that diet can influence the sex of your future baby. New findings corroborate past findings that women who eat diets rich in calcium and magnesium and low in sodium and potassium may increase the likelihood of having a baby girl.

In the study, 81% of woman who combine timing and diet conceived a girl. The “girl diet” recommends:

  • 3 cups of milk
  • 2 other servings of dairy
  • Only low or sodium free cheese
  • Eggs
  • Mineral water
  • No more than 1 cup of weak tea or coffee
  • Salt free crackers and bread
  • White or brown rice
  • 8–10 cups of water

Other methods of Gender Selection

The Shettles Method is not the only gender selection method available to parents. IVF gender selection is the only surefire way to choose the gender of your child.

It is much more invasive and very expensive. It is virtually unheard of for couples to pursue IVF just for gender selection, but more and more couples are engaging in it as part of the IVF process being used for other reasons.

Other lab-based methods include the Microsort Method which dyes sperm cells based on the chromosome they’re carrying, separates them and then uses IUI to implant the gender-specific sperm.

Possible Social Consequences of Gender Selection

There are no shortage of social concerns surrounding gender selection. The most obvious is a potential shift in the gender balance, which has implications on the romantic prospects of generations and the survival outlook of our whole species.

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Unisex Names for Boys & Girls

Stuck Thinking of Gender Neutral or Unisex Baby Names?

Picking out baby names can be both exciting and daunting. Choosing the moniker that will be with your child for their entire life is a big deal.

That’s why many parents-to-be spend hours deciding what name they wish to give their future son or daughter. Ultimately, it’s your opinion that matters and whatever you choose, you will not regret it if you’ve done your research and picked something that is meaningful to you and your partner.

Many couples are fond of gender neutral names, which carry neither male nor female connotation. Some of the classic gender neutral names for both boys and girls are Alex, Sam and Taylor.

Some unisex names are short for longer, gender specific full names (e.g. Alexander/Alexandra/Alexandria, Samuel/Samantha), while others stand alone as full names, like Taylor. Spelling can also send the name toward connoting one gender or another (e.g. Aaron versus Erin or Kelly versus Kelli).

If you’re considering or set on picking a unisex baby name, but haven’t found the right one you’ve come to the right place to find your gender neutral baby names inspiration. You may feel limited in your options as gender neutral names are not as common as non-gender neutral ones.

However, in recent years, unisex baby names have become much more popular and people are more open to traditionally gender-specific names moving into the realm of unisex names.

Picking a unisex name is easier with an open mind as to what defines a gender neutral moniker. As culture evolves, the line between names that were once reserved for boys or girls separately are being blurred, with traditionally gender specific names becoming more fluid.

If you’ve looked at lists of unisex baby names and just aren’t finding one that speaks to you, you make consider taking inspiration from celebrity baby names like Apple or Saint, which have never or very rarely been used, giving them a clean slate of gender neutrality. Create your own name by picking something meaningful to you and your partner and let your parenting and child’s personality define their name for them.

Unisex Names are Becoming More Popular

Gender neutral baby names are growing in popularity for many reasons that we’ll explore in the next section. Unisex name inspiration is coming more and more from surnames and word/noun names that do not carry as much gender association as well as the traditional lot of unisex names that have been used for decades.

Why Choose a Unisex Name for Your Baby

It sounds good

The reason most parents go with a unisex name is simple—they like it. It’s the same reason they pick gender specific names. The meaning, how it sounds and how it looks written out are all reasons to choose any baby name.

Parents may love a name so much that the gender connotation isn’t reason enough to go with something else even if it’s traditionally been tied to one gender or another.

You like the nickname it comes with

Many parents are choosing unisex names for the nicknames that come along with them. For example, naming a baby girl Everett in order to call her Evyy or Evie. Parents fond of the name Sam may pick the more gender specific full names Samuel or Samantha.

You don’t know the sex of your baby

Finding out your baby’s sex before birth makes it easy to come up with gender specific names, but what if you want to wait until they arrive to find out? Many parents who wait to find out the sex of their baby pick out one or a list of baby boy names and one or a list of baby girls names, but some parents choose to pick one name that will suit either.

For parents waiting to find out the gender of their baby at birth, you may also consider a foundational name that pivots easily between genders (e.g. Oliver/Olivia; Alexander/Alexandra).

You want to reserve assignment of gender identity

Gender identity is a hot topic with lots of strong point of view surrounding it as some believe the black and white line between boy and girl are much blurrier than we’ve traditionally treated it. Some parents are choosing unisex names as a way to promote gender discovery and fluidity and avoid imposing societal gender confines on their children.

To fight sexism

It is more common for parents to pursue a unisex name for girls than boys. That’s because one reason parents choose to give a girl an androgynous name is to combat sexism.

Both unconscious bias and implicit sexism give girls a disadvantage in multiple facets of life. Giving a female a gender neutral name can combat some of this phenomenon (e.g. an HR manager being unable to detect gender while reviewing a resume).

There is evidence to suggest that even in face to face situations (where gender is clear) women with more masculine names are treated differently.

Think Carefully About Initials and Middle Names

Middle names and initials are important considerations when picking a baby name. Initial names are generally unisex. Parents who do not fall in love with a gender neutral name may decide to pick gender specific first and/or middle names and create an initial name from a combo of either with their surname.

If you are picking a unisex name to keep your child’s gender identity open, you should consider the same for middle names.

Names That Used to Be Boys’ Names and Are Now Mostly Used for Girls

Over time, the gender association of some names has flipped. Names like Leslie and Courtney, for example, used to be used overwhelmingly for boys.

Now, however, we’re passed a tipping point and hearing those names for a male is more and more rare. Interestingly, it’s quite common for boys names to swing into popularity on the pink side of the spectrum, but rare the other way around.

This is likely linked toward the tendency of parents to more commonly give unisex or masculine leaning names to girls, rather than the other way around. Here are some of the most drastic switches from male to female:

100% boys name in 1880, 98% girls name in 2012
Jumped to 55% girls name in 1996.

100% boys name in 1882, 77% girls name in 2012
In 1942, Alexis jumped to 69% girls name from 42%.

100% boys name in 1880, 100% girls name in 2012
Tipped in 1965 to become 64% girls name.

100% boys name in 1880, 97% girls name in 2012
Its rise began in 1980 when it was 64% girls name.

100% boys name in 1881, 83% girls name in 2012
Swapped places in 1981 at 57% girls name.

100% boys name in 1880, 80% girls name in 2012
Emery was 50/50 in 1996.

100% boys name in 1882, 100% girls name in 2012
In 1944, Hilary tipped over the gender line toward the girls’ side permanently.

100% boys name in 1891, 98% girls name in 2012
Kelsey’s gender skew shifted throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but in the early 70s it tipped to the girls’ side where it sits today.

100% boys name in 1912, 91% girls name in 2012
Kim was used for both boys and girls until the mid-50s then it moved to the girls name side.

100% boys name in 1884, 100% girls name in 2012
In 1945 it tipped to the girls’ side inspired by the uber feminine Lauren Bacall.

100% boys name in 1882, 100% girls name in 2012.
Shifted in 1941 when it hit 54%. Oddly, the Leslie spelling was less often a boys name in 1880 and is less often a girls name now after it crossed to the girls’ side in 1946.

100% boys name in 1880, 100% girls name in 2012
It began skirting the gender neutrality line in the late 1940s and crossed over permanently to the girls name side in 1966. The Lindsey spelling tipped in 1969.

100% boys name in 1880, 100% girls name in 2012
A name used almost always for boys until 1986 when the movie Splash skyrocketed it to a girls name majority.

100% boys name in 1883, 100% girls name in 2012
The earliest Merediths were boys, but the name grew for girls from 1910 on and tipped the gender line permanently in 1921.

100% boys name in 1905, 86% girls name in 2012
Michele’s early use as a boys name can be attributed to race. It tipped to mostly a girls name in 1931 in America.

100% boys name in 1880, 89% girls name in 2012,
With the rise of actress Morgan Fairchild, Morgan crossed the line in 1980 to 60% girls name.

100% boys name in 1880, 83% girls name in 2012
In 1992, Payton and Peyton both became used less often for boys than girls. Currently, Payton is 83% girls name and Peyton is 68% girls name.

100% boys name in 1880, 91% girls name in 2012
Sandy was 50/50 in 1935.

100% boys name in 1881, 78% girls name in 2012
In 1929, Shannon crossed the 50% line and within the next ten years became a majority girls’ name.

100% boys name in 1880, 100% girls name in 2012
In 1936, Shelby tipped the line from a majority boys name to an 88% girls name.

100% boys name in 1882, 100% girls name in 2012
In 1937 Shelly crossed over the line to become 51% girls name.

100% boys name in 1880, 91% girls name in 2012
Stacey moved over the gender line in 1952.

100% boys name in 1880, 98% girls name in 2012
Sydney began to be used more and more for girls in the 1930s and moved passed the tipping point permanently in the early 1940s.

100% boys name in 1884, 99% girls name in 2012
Whitney tipped in 1962, when it went from 41% to 72% girls name.

Most popular unisex names 2019


Alternate spellings: Erin, Eryn, Aryn, Arin, Airin, Airen

Alternate spellings: Adrienne, Adriane

Alternate spellings: Alynn, Allen

Short for: Alexa, Alexis, Alexandria, Alexander, Alejandro

Alternate spellings: Allie, Alli

Alternate spellings: Angell

Alternate spellings: Ashleigh, Ashli, Ashlee, Ashly


Alternate spellings: Bently, Bentleigh, Bentli, Bentlee

Alternate spellings: Berkleigh

Alternate spellings: Blayne, Blain, Blane


Alternate spellings: Brice


Alternate spellings: Cacey, Kacey, Kacy, Kaceem Kacie, Kasey

Alternate spellings: Camdyn, Camdin, Kamdyn, Kamdin

Alternate spellings: Cameryn, Camerin, Camorin, Kameron, Kameryn, Kamerin, Kamorin

Alternate spellings: Cambyl, Kampbell, Kambyl

Alternate spellings: Karey, Kerri, Keri

Alternate spellings: Carsyn, Carsin, Karson, Karsyn, Karsin


Alternate spellings: Kristian

Alternate spellings: Colbi, Kolby, Kolbi

Alternate spellings: Cory, Cori, Korey, Kory, Kori




Alternate spellings: Dani, Daney, Danie
Short for: Danielle, Daniel

Alternate spellings: Darryn

Alternate spellings: Devon, Devyn, Devan

Alternate spellings: Dorien, Dorienne



Alternate spellings: Evin, Evon, Evyn


Alternate spellings: Phallon

Alternate spellings: Franky, Franki


Alternate spellings: Gail, Gale


Alternate spellings: Harleigh

Alternate spellings: Haydin, Haydyn, Heydin






Alternate spellings: Jadyn, Jadin

Alternate spellings: Jamie, Jami, Jaymee


Alternate spellings: Jessi, Jessy
Short for: Jessica

Alternate spellings: Jody

Alternate spellings: Jordyn, Jordin, Jorden


Alternate spellings: Ky

Alternate spellings: Kellen

Alternate spellings: Kelli, Kelley


Alternate spellings: Laci, Lacy, Lacee



Alternate spellings: Leigh

Alternate spellings: Lesleigh, Leslie

Alternate spellings: Lindsey



Alternate spellings: Lauren


Alternate spellings: Mika




Alternate spellings: Nikki, Niki, Nicki
Short for: Nicholas, Nicole


Alternate spellings: Oakleigh, Oaklee



Alternate spellings: Peyton




Alternate spellings: Regan, Reaghan


Alternate spellings: Rileigh

Alternate spellings: Robyn

Alternate spellings: Rori



Short for: Samuel, Samantha


Alternate spellings: Shaine, Shayne


Alternate spellings: Sean, Sian



Alternate spellings: Sloane



Alternate spellings: Terri

Alternate spellings: Tristyn






Alternate spellings: Wesleigh











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Gender Selection and IVF

Even as recently as a few years ago, telling your friends and family you were going to pay to choose the sex of your baby would have sounded ludicrous. Now, the idea is becoming common place.

As IVF rises in popularity, so does the option to choose your child’s gender at conception. Today, helping couples choose to have a boy or girls has become a million dollar industry as parents are eager to take the decision into their own hands, no matter the cost.

If you’re considering gender selection with IVF, read on to learn more about what it means for you, your IVF journey, your future family, and even, potentially, society as a whole.

How gender selection works

Gender is determined by chromosomes. Females carry only X chromosomes, while males carry both X and Y.

Sperm either contain male or female chromosomes, which is why there is basically a 50/50 chance of conceiving either sex. If female sperm fertilizes the egg, the embryo will carry two X chromosomes, resulting in a girl.

If male sperm reach the egg for fertilization, the embryo will have one X and one Y chromosome, creating a boy. Gender selection seeks to manipulate the combo that comes up so parents can choose if they have a boy or a girl.

Is it possible to choose the baby’s gender?

The short answer is “yes,” it is possible to choose your baby’s gender. Like with most things, there are multiple approaches to do so.

Some are conducted in a lab with high accuracy, like gender selection with IVF. And others, like the Shettles Method, are based on less proven science.

We’ll dig deeper into the various options later on. Gender selection with IVF is by far the most accurate gender selection method, relying on preimplantation genetic screening to choose gender with virtually 100% accuracy for couples undergoing IVF.

What is preimplantation genetic screening (PGS)?

Preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, has been used for more than a decade to help couples going through IVF select embryos with normal genetics (free of disease and abnormalities). The screening is used to select the most viable embryos for implantation—increasing chances of carrying a healthy baby to term via IVF.

This process also avoids passing along life altering or life threatening genetic diseases and abnormalities to children.

The PGS process begins with the same steps as an IVF cycle—fertility medications, egg retrieval and manufactured fertilization in a lab. The embryos are left alone to grow for 3 to 5 days as they divide into multiple cells.

When the embryos are around 5 days old, a couple of cells are harvested to use for the preimplantation genetic screening. An evaluation of the DNA of the cells then takes place to determine if dangerous genes are present in the cells, and therefore the embryo.

PGS usually takes about a week to complete and embryos are frozen during this time as you await results before implantation.

Though it was first used only to detect genetic abnormalities, PGS has now become a detector of embryo gender for use in gender selection with IVF. Embryos that are identified as free of genetic threats and, if the parents choose, of a preferred gender, are then used for the implantation process.

Embryos free from genetic issues are then frozen for potential use in later cycles. Most couples do not weed out embryos for freezing by gender.

Selecting gender by using preimplantation genetic screening during IVF is the most effective way to choose your baby’s gender. But that accuracy comes at a price.

Using preimplantation genetic screening to choose the sex of your child is virtually 100 percent accurate, which is impressive. Potentially more impressive is its price tag—PGS can run you up to $20,000.

Who is eligible for gender selection

Completely reliable gender selection is only available through PGS as part of the IVF process. That means it is only available to couples undergoing IVF.

IVF is extremely invasive and costly, so it would never be recommended to undergo IVF for the sole purpose of choosing the sex of your next child. IVF is used to overcome fertility issues in both men and women. Couples who are not seeking IVF are not eligible for gender selection.

While it’s becoming more common to enlist the use of preimplantation genetic screening solely to seek one gendered baby or another, you may find some hesitation if you’re planning on undergoing the testing for the sole purpose of choosing the gender of your baby.

If there is no history of genetic abnormalities in your family, there is not likely a medical reason to utilize PGS and some are still on the fence as to whether it should be used just for that.

Preimplantation genetic screening is also pricey on top of an already high IVF bill, so you may consider just how badly you’d like a baby boy or girl specifically.

Prerequisites for gender selection and IVF

The prerequisite for gender selection with IVF is that you be going through IVF for other reasons. Most fertility clinics recommend gender selection for families who already have one child and seek “gender balance” in their family make up.

Some families may have a history of a disease or disorder that affects one gender or the other, which may also make them a candidate for gender selection with IVF.

Sometimes couples do not have very many embryos to use during IVF. If that’s the case, gender selection may not be an option as it diminishes the number of embryos even further. Couples who are not experiencing any fertility issues and seek out reproductive technology to choose whether they have a boy or girl will not be accepted by any above board fertility clinic.

Success rates for gender selection and IVF

Gender selection with IVF is highly accurate, carrying a success rate of 97–99.99%.

The sex of the baby your desire does not matter when it comes to success rates for gender selection with IVF. Choosing your future child’s gender via IVF is the most accurate option available to parents wishing to dictate the sex of their baby.

Common reasons for gender selection

Deciding to select the gender of your next baby is not always an easy choice. There are many reasons that you may consider gender selection when undergoing IVF, including some that are more serious and others that aren’t.

Here’s are most common considerations:

Medical reasons

Gender selection has somewhat of a vein reputation as naysayers categorize all parents pursing gender selection as being in the pursuit of “designer babies” based solely on their personal whim and non-medical based reasons. That, however, is simply not the case. Gender selection can be quite helpful for specific and unavoidable medical based reasons.

If one partner has a dangerous genetic disposition a couple may choose to use gender selection to reduce the risk of passing on sex-linked genetic issues.

Risks of having a child with hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and Fragile X syndrome can all be reduced by using gender selection. Sex-linked genetic disorders, which are passed down through the maternal genes, are more common in males since the mother gives him her X sex chromosome.

In the case where a female is a carrier for one of these diseases, the couple may choose to have a girl to reduce the risk and avoid giving birth to a baby boy with serious health issues.

Personal reasons

“Family balancing” is a term used to describe couples who choose to select one gender or another to even out the number of males and females in their nuclear family. It is the most common reason couples use PGS to select the sex of their baby.

Couples may see family balancing if they have had multiple children of the same gender or have just one child and hope to end up with one boy and one girl.

Social reasons

Perhaps the most controversial reason to choose gender selection is for social reasons. Families may desire to carry on a family name or keep a specific ratio of sons and daughters in their family.

Some parents also choose the sex of their baby to give them a leg up in society (e.g. choosing to have a boy to avoid sexism and other disadvantages experienced by women).

Why gender selection is controversial

The reason why gender selection is so controversial can be summed up by saying that some people do not think it’s the role of humans to “play God.”

Creating “designer babies,” as some have deemed them, flirts with a line of control that some people reserve for a supreme being. Those who believe conception begins at birth also find issue with the selection, and subsequent destruction, of embryos as they move through the PGS process.

To them, it’s wrong to destroy an embryo simply because it’s one sex or another.

Gender selection also has social implications, especially if it were to get out of hand. The societal impacts of any significant gender imbalance could be catastrophic, beginning with strengthening stereotypes about the non-dominant gender and moving to ruining the reproductive cycle of a generation.

These moral and ethical considerations and societal implications are all part of the reason gender selection is not performed on couples who do not need IVF.

Gender selection pros and cons


  • Controls family size by avoiding attempts to have additional children solely to “try” for the other sex
  • Family balancing allows you to choose the gender makeup of your nuclear family
  • You know the sex of the baby from day one, giving you more time to plan for a boy or girl
  • You can use it to avoid passing along certain sex-linked genetic issues and increase your chances of having a healthy baby
  • You and your partner get to make the choice together


  • Gender selection is pricey, even above and beyond the high cost of IVF
  • While it is close to 100% accurate, there is no guarantee that PGS will work for you to conceive the gendered baby of your choice
  • You eliminate the element of surprise in finding out the sex of your baby

The costs of gender selection with IVF

Gender selection with IVF costs anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per cycle.

This is on top of the other IVF costs, which run about $20,000 to $25,000 with PGS per cycle.

Are there financing options to pay for gender selection?

You are more likely to succeed at financing your IVF procedure as a package than the gender selection portion individually.

Many fertility clinics offer financing options that cover all parts of the IVF process, including gender selection.

Choosing the best fertility clinic for gender selection and IVF

To find a fertility clinic whose well-versed in gender selection with IVF, research their preimplantation genetic screening.

The stronger the team is at PGS, the better results they will produce when it comes to gender selection with IVF. More and more, PGS is becoming a standard service offered by fertility clinics, but some still do not offer it.

Look for a clinic with a history of the service—the longer the better, although the technology has not been around for much more than a decade.

Other methods for gender selection

Gender selection with IVF is far and above the most accurate type of gender selection.

Other methods, like the Shettles Method, rely on a mixture of science and opinion to increase chances of having a boy or girl, but can far from guarantee it. The Shettles Method capitalizes on the varying characteristics of male and female sperm and suggest ways—such as abstinence, sexual position and timing of intercourse—that can help sway the gender one way or another.

Another laboratory method available called sperm sorting involves dying sperm to mark them as male or female, splitting them up and then using IUI to only insert on or the other to result in that gender embryo. This method is more accurate than the Shettles Method but pales in comparison to gender selection with IVF.

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What is BFP?

What does BFP stand for in fertility?

In the world of fertility and conception, BFP is likely the thing you’ve been looking forward to most on your journey to getting pregnant. BFP simply means big fat positive, referring to a pregnancy test result. You’ll see the term thrown around often in mom-to-be and fertility message boards and in online and offline communities of current and aspiring moms. The “BF” portion, meaning “big fat,” does not refer to a specific kind of positive result, but rather emphasizes the magnitude of seeing a positive result, no matter how faint the line may be.

When should I expect a BFP?

At eighteen days following ovulation, the accuracy of detecting a positive pregnancy result is at about 99%. Here’s how accurate your search for a BFP will be if you take your pregnancy test at various times:

10 days after ovulation: 35%
11 days after ovulation: 51%
12 days after ovulation: 62%
13 days after ovulation: 68%
14 days after ovulation: 74%
15 days after ovulation: 80%
16 days after ovulation: 88%
17 days after ovulation: 92%
18 days after ovulation: 99%

You can see from these numbers why it’s generally advised to wait at least two weeks after ovulation to begin testing for pregnancy. Sound like a long time? Technically, you may see a BFP as soon as six days after conception, and the generally accepted norm seems to be 10 days, but that’s simply not the case. These deflated numbers have been perpetuated as normal because those who receive a BFP early are more likely to shout it from the rooftops than those who get their BFP on a normal schedule or even late.

All this is to say that there’s really no reason to take a pregnancy test before two weeks after ovulating. If you decide to do it sooner, start at 10 days and do not give up until at least 18 days have passed. Missing a period is your best signal to take a pregnancy test in hopes of seeing a BFP.

What is the earliest BFP you can get?

While some women report getting a positive early pregnancy test result as soon as six days post-ovulation, that is very unlikely. The anticipation is killer, but there is not sense in wasting money on pregnancy tests until at least 10 days following the hopeful conception date. Waiting until the first day of your missed period is most likely to yield accurate results the first time around.

Symptoms before BFP

Missing your period is the most common “symptom” woman experience before taking a pregnancy test and getting a BFP. However, there are some early pregnancy symptoms that may show themselves even before your missed period, and before a pregnancy test comes back positive.

Even small changes in the body may set off alarm bells that you’re in fact pregnant even before a BFP shows up on a test. Women who notice these symptoms usually feel very in-tune with their body and notice even slight hormonal changes throughout their regular menstrual cycles. These early symptoms may present as early as a week before there are enough pregnancy hormones present to yield a BFG.

Abdominal cramps

Do not be disheartened if you feel cramping following ovulation! When the fertilized egg or embryo implants in the uterus early on, it can cause some women to experience cramping. Implantation takes place 8–10 days post-ovulation, or 4–6 days before your next period. Many women experience regular menstrual cramps during this same period, so you may not be able to tell the difference between period and pregnancy cramps. If you feel cramping, you should definitely take a pregnancy test if you miss your period as it very well may be cramping from pregnancy.


You should also not lose all hope of pregnancy if you experience spotting a few days after ovulating. Many women experience spotting early on in pregnancy, which is said to be due to the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus (like cramping). Pregnancy spotting usually last up to three days and is light pink or brown in color. You may experience spotting with abdominal cramps and still be on your way to a BFP.

Frequent urination

You’ve heard about pregnant women constantly needing to pee, but that very true stereotype is usually reserved for moms-to-be with fully showing bellies. However, early hormonal changes can also cause this pregnancy symptom early on by increasing the speed of blood flow to your kidneys. This causes the bladder to fill up more quickly, making you need to pee more often. Some women notice this sign even before a missed period all the way through the pregnancy.


Most women do not experience morning sickness until six weeks into being pregnant, but some feel this symptom as early as one week following conception, which is a full week before your missed period and a likely BFP. Again, hormone fluctuations are to blame. You may experience nausea with or without vomiting and it may be present all day long.


Fatigue can come on suddenly and be debilitating, though temporary. Rising progesterone levels are at work when you feel sudden bouts of complete exhaustion. Many women chalk up fatigue during this time to falling ill, but it may be an early sign of a BFP in your near future.

Aversion to smells

The aversion to smells comes on rapidly and is most likely to be noticed first in the kitchen. Foods that are common and did not bother you before may become unbearable. This is a long known and tell tale sign of being pregnant and can present very early on after conception.

Metallic taste in mouth

A metal taste in the mouth is another early pregnancy sign, which usually occurs alongside aversion to smells. Many say it tastes like they’ve been sucking on pennies. Many report this symptom going away after the first trimester, but some experience it until delivery.

Breast tenderness

Breasts may become tender as progesterone levels rise in the body. Many women experience this each month before their period, but the phenomenon experienced before a BFP is usually significantly more intense.

Darkening areolas

Areolas are known to become darker during pregnancy due to HCG hormone levels. Some women notice this darkening happening almost immediately after conception.

Can you get a BFP after your period?

Getting your period may not be the sign that a BFP is at least another month away. You may be experiencing early pregnancy symptoms (cramping, spotting) that you mistake for your period. Wait a few days and take a pregnancy test, especially if you are feeling any other early pregnancy symptoms.

What does a BFP after period mean?

A BFP after getting your period could mean you mistook early pregnancy signs for your period.

What is a faint BFP?

As mentioned above, BFP does not refer to a certain kind of positive pregnancy result. A faint BFP means that a positive result is displaying as a faint line, plus sign, etc on your pregnancy test strips. rather than something darker. Waiting a few days and taking another pregnancy test will help you get more definitive results.

BFP with low basal body temperature

Basal body temperature (BBT) refers to your lowest body temperature when at rest. It fluctuates with your menstrual cycle and is used by many to estimate ovulation. Many women who track BBT report sustained higher BBT following conception. If you experience a BFP and low-range BBT, do not be alarmed—the pregnancy test is the more accurate measuring tool and other factors can affect your BBT. If your BBT drops above or below normal, you should consult your doctor.

Is it BFP or AF (period) symptoms?

It can be hard to determine whether your body is experiencing early pregnancy or simply its normal visit from AF as cramping and spotting are common in both. Early pregnancy spotting tends to only last three days, which can help indicate which your experiencing. Cramps from pregnancy may present themselves earlier in the month than you’re used to.

Can you get a BFP before implantation?

It is not possible to get a BFP before implantation occurs. That’s because the implantation itself is what causes a rise in HGC, which is the hormone measure by tests to determine if you’re pregnant.

Can BFP be false?

Though a false positive is less likely than a false negative, a BFP can be false. The blood test performed by your doctor can corroborate results of an at home pregnancy test.

Can early BFP mean twins?

While the correlation has not been scientifically proven, some women have found a connection with early positive pregnancy results and having twins. There is absolutely no way of knowing that your early BFP is an indicator of twins until you’re ready for an ultrasound.

Does an early BFP mean girl and late BFP mean boy?

While some like to claim they do, timing of your BFP does not indicate the sex of your future child.

Does a late BFP mean an unsuccessful pregnancy?

A late BFP is a relative term and does not by any means indicate that your pregnancy will be unsuccessful. You may get a positive result later than expected for a few reasons:

  • Ovulation did not occur exactly when you thought it did
  • The test used is not as sensitive as others
  • Your HCG levels hadn’t risen high enough yet

Is late BFP a sign of increased risk?

A late positive pregnancy results is not a sign of increased risk. There are many reasons a BFP may come “late,” most of which include human error or natural body differences.

Other Menstrual and Fertility Acronyms and Terms:

AF = Aunt Flow: A colloquial term for your period

AMA = advanced maternal age: Age greater than 35 at time of delivery

BCP = birth control pills

Beta: An HCG pregnancy test, which confirms pregnancy via a blood test. It is the most accurate and sensitive of all pregnancy tests

BFN = big fat negative: A negative pregnancy test result

CD = cycle day: The first day of your full-on period (not just spotting)

CM = cervical mucus: A bodily fluid excreted by the cervix. Some woman may examine their cervical mucus to detect ovulation. It will be dry or sticky if you are not ovulating, wet and watery if ovulation is close, creamy if ovulation may be coming, and wet and stretchy like egg whites when ovulating. Also called cervical fluid.

DE = donor eggs

DH = dear husband

DPO = day post-ovulation

DPT = days post-transfer

DW = dear wife

EWCM = egg white cervical mucus: Cervical mucus that resembles the consistency of egg whites (stretchy and wet) and indicates ovulation

FET = frozen embryo transfers: The transfer of frozen, rather than fresh embryos during IVF. Usually done in the second or later cycles of IVF treatment.

FX = fingers crossed: Often used when sharing anecdotes that end during a waiting period along the journey to conception

HCG = human chorionic gonadotropin: The hormone that stimulates ovulation

HPT = home pregnancy test