Fertility: Making Your Body Work for You

by Bridgette R. Odom

FertilityThe springtime dance with fertility serves as a reminder that a new strawberry patch or even a new baby should be on your to-do list.

If your thoughts this spring turn to tiny babies, knowing how to synchronize baby-making with the body's cycles can help make those dream come true.

What are some of the things you should thing about? What should be on your to-do list?

We've broken it down for you into the basics, his and her action plans and the fun part, of it "taking two" to tango.

Reproduction Basics

A woman's menstrual cycle can be divided into two parts. The first begins with the first day of bleeding and ends when an egg is released. Usually this part lasts between 13 and 20 days.

During the second part of the cycle, the egg is coaxed into the fallopian tube where it meets up with a sperm. The two do their thing and the tiny cell start dividing, travels to the uterus, burrows in and in a few months, you're new parents.

If not fertilized, the egg falls apart in a couple days. Without the hormonal support from a developing egg, the lining in the uterus breaks down and begins shedding at the start of the next menstrual cycle. The second stage of the menstrual cycle lasts from 12 to 16 days.

Putting Knowledge into Action

For a women to get pregnant, the egg and sperm must meet inside a fallopian tube. Stress, diet, exercise and lifestyle choices help promote regular ovulation and "boys" that can swim.

Her Action Plan

Irregular menstrual cycles and blocked tubes cause most fertility problems for women. Some moms-to-be will need to work with a reproductive endocrinologist to get a baby on board. For many, these lifestyle choices optimize hormone activity and help get an egg out there.

• Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, fish, whole grain products and fats from plant sources
• Watch your weight
• Exercise regularly
• Limit alcohol and caffeine
• Try to avoid hazardous chemicals such as in food packaging, cleansers and pesticides
• Pamper yourself
• Consider alternate treatments like hypnosis and acupuncture

His Action Plan

Every guys wants his swimmers to get out there and get the job done. These lifestyle changes might help.

• Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, fish, whole grain products and fats from plant sources
• Watch your weight
• Exercise regularly
• Limit alcohol
• Stop smoking
• Try to avoid hazardous chemicals such as in pesticides and cleanser
• Practice stress reduction techniques

It Takes Two

Most women release an egg about two weeks before the start of menstrual bleeding. Your mission: Have sperm ready and waiting for that egg! Sexual intercourse can be a few days before ovulation and still make a baby. The baby-making window begins about five days before ovulation to one day after ovulation.

Time makes a difference and some suggest your position might also affect the sperm meets egg race. Good luck on your quest!

Asking for Help

If you know there's a problem or if you've been trying a while, it might be time for a comprehensive fertility evaluation. Depending on test results, you and your doctor can put together the best treatment plan.

Now that you have a plan, it's time to have some fun! How is it going so far?