July 14, 2021 11:30:29 am
While not many women do it, a routine visit to the gynaecologist is of utmost importance, so as to rule out possible risks of diseases and infections, or to find out about underlying medical conditions.
While it may seem a tad daunting to many — having to open up about intimate details of their life — doctors insist check-ups happen periodically, especially for women who are considering having a baby. A routine visit can answer many questions about fertility and infertility, and help the couple be better prepared to welcome a child into their life.
If you are thinking of visiting your gynaecologist soon, Dr Vivek Kakkad, MCh Reproductive Medicine and Surgery, consultant at ART Fertility Clinics suggests you ask them these basic questions. Read on.
1. Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to improve my fertility?
Excessive stress can have a negative impact on sperm and egg production. It is imperative to bring an effective lifestyle change — practise yoga, meditation or physical exercise (moderate intensity) — that can help promote positive effect on reproductive health of both men and women. Obesity can lead to pregnancy complications like increased risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure and other gestational diabetes, hence a change in eating habits can have profound effects. Men should avoid activities that cause excessive heat exposure around genitals like sauna/steam baths, cigarette smoking and excessive drinking.
2. Have I been trying long enough to get pregnant?
If you are 30 years or older, gynaecologists will start evaluating your fertility after 6 months of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy. If you are having a normal menstrual cycle, you are probably ovulating regularly. The most fertile period in your cycle is between the periods when you release an egg. You and your partner should have regular unprotected sex on a number of days in the middle of the cycle. Also use an over-the-counter fertility kit to find out about your ovulation.
3. How can sexually transmitted infections (STI) affect my ability to conceive?
All sexually-active women should undergo a routine screening with their gynaecologist every year. It is important to diagnose if you have any STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea which can cause inflammation and scarring of fallopian tubes and potentially block them. Early detection could prevent you from transmitting or receiving an STI. A PAP smear test every three years is recommended to detect precancerous cells in the cervix or early stage of cervical cancer, especially when it is curable. Genital tuberculosis can also be a cause of concern when trying to conceive.
4. Will my health conditions affect my fertility?
It is pertinent to seek help if one is experiencing ovulation disorders including PCOS, thyroid that can affect the menstrual cycle. If one experiences irregular bleeding between cycles, it could be an indication of uterine fibroids which can lower pregnancy success rates. Similarly, one should also get checked for endometriosis in case of pain or menstrual irregularities.
5. What tests should I undergo if I am unable to conceive?
Before opting for advanced treatment, a gynaecologist does a thorough check on information related to puberty and menstrual cycle, contraceptives used, previous pregnancy, abortions or miscarriages. The initial physical examination will likely focus on the hormonal system and reproductive organs. Your gynaec may also:
– Assess and track egg production and measure the consequent changes in body temperature.
– Conduct a sperm analysis for men.
– Check fallopian tubes in case of any blockages.
– Analyse cervix mucus to determine if sperm can travel.
– Check the uterus lining through a hysteroscope to see if it is adequate for an embryo implant.
6. Will Covid-19 vaccine affect my pregnancy plans? If I am thinking of conceiving in the next 3-4 months, what should I do?
No, the vaccine will not affect your pregnancy plans and women should not delay until after completing their dosages. It is even more advisable that since Covid-19 takes the form of a severe disease in pregnant women, they should get themselves vaccinated at the earliest.