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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderChapter 14: Infertility (When You Are Not Able to Have a Baby)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhat Is Infertility?
Open this folder and view contentsWhat Causes Infertility?
View the documentDangers at Work or Home That Can Hurt Fertility
View the documentWhat to Do for Infertility
View the documentLosing a Pregnancy (Miscarriage)
View the documentLiving with Infertility
View the documentWorking for Change

What to Do for Infertility

If you or your partner think you have a fertility problem:

1. Try to have sex during your fertile time. Although a man makes millions of sperm every day, a healthy woman releases only one egg a month. This is called her fertile time - the only time during the month when she can get pregnant. For most women their fertile time starts about 10 days after the first day of the monthly bleeding and lasts about 6 days.

The body has several signs that tell you when you are in a fertile time. The easiest signs to check are the changes in the mucus in your vagina.

Checking your mucus

During your fertile time, your cervix makes mucus that helps sperm get into the womb. This mucus looks clear and wet, like raw egg white, and can be stretched between your fingers. Later in your monthly cycle, you may see sticky or dry mucus. This kind of mucus stops the man’s sperm from getting into the womb.


See The mucus method and the rhythm method to learn how to check your mucus. Write down the changes every day on a chart. During the week that you see wet, shiny, clear mucus, try to have sex every day.

When you have sex, the best positions for getting the sperm close to the opening of your womb are:

· to lie on your back with the man on top.
· to lie on your side.

Then, after having sex, lie flat on your back for about 20 minutes. This will help the sperm swim into your womb and find the egg.

¨ Try not to worry if you do not get pregnant right away. Many couples get pregnant within a year if they continue to have sex during the woman’s fertile days.

Avoiding these things can also help:

· Do not use oils or creams during sex. They can kill the sperm or stop it from reaching the egg.

· Do not douche or wash inside your vagina. Douching before or after sex can change the wetness inside your vagina, making it harder for the sperm to live.

· Your partner should not have a hot bath before having sex. Heat on the testicles kills sperm.


2. Treat any health problems.

Both you and your partner should have medical exams and be checked for STDs. If either of you has an STD, both of you must be treated. Be sure to finish all the medicines you are given.


3. Practice good health habits:

· Eat good, healthy food. If you do not have regular monthly bleeding and you are very thin or very fat, try to gain or lose weight.

· Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, using drugs, or drinking alcohol.

· Avoid caffeine in drinks like coffee, black tea, and cola drinks.

· Get plenty of rest and regular exercise.


4. Try to see a health worker if you are not pregnant after one year. There are some simple tests that do not cost much that may be able to tell you what the problem is. For example, the health worker may look at your partner’s sperm under a microscope to see if they are healthy. She may give you a pelvic exam to check your vagina, womb, and tubes for infection or growths. Or she may teach you to tell if your ovaries are releasing an egg by taking your temperature every morning.

It is important to remember that these tests only tell you what the problem is - they will not solve it. Even the most expensive medicines and operations often cannot cure infertility.