This article was originally written by Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home (16/5/20).
Trying to conceive can be a very exciting time. But it can also be overwhelming and if it wears on, it can be tiring and frustrating too. You may have done some research on how to get pregnant fast and realised there’s a lot of information out there. This can make it hard to know where to start!
Not to worry! We’ve put together a list to help you get pregnant as quickly as possible and as inexpensively as possible. There’s no need to spend money on tests and supplements if they are unlikely to get you closer to your goals. Using this information as a guide will help you better understand your body, your partner’s body, and what’s really worth the price.
Before we get into it, let’s start with the basics. For conception to occur, you need three things: sperm, an egg, and fertilisation (when sperm meets egg). While this seems pretty simple, fertility is complex and sometimes things don’t always go as planned. However, by checking these boxes you can detect issues early on that would prevent you from conceiving later.
STEP 1: Figure out when you are most fertile
Fertilisation is when sperm meets egg — also known as the moment of conception. To give sperm and egg a chance to meet, you need to understand when your body is fertile so that you can time intercourse correctly.
There are several options to track suspected ovulation. This includes LH tests (ovulation predictor kits), cervical mucus monitoring, and using basal body temperature (BBT), among others. With these methods, you’ll know which days are your most fertile. That way you can time intercourse correctly and have the best chance at conception.
STEP 2: Optimise your chances by confirming high quality ovulation
In reality, testing the quality of an egg is nearly impossible through hormone tests.
When most people think of egg quality, they think of the egg itself — the thing that eventually grows into a newborn. In reality, testing the quality of an egg is nearly impossible through hormone tests; it requires DNA and chromosomal testing. However, testing follicle and ovulation quality is much simpler and a great place to start!
Without ovulation, you have no chance of conception. This is why checking ovulation first can save you from spending time and money on other hormone tests you may not need.
Ovulation is considered healthy when an egg is released and the empty follicle produces enough progesterone over time to support healthy implantation. You may be thinking, great — I’ll call my doctor and order a cycle day 21 progesterone blood test! But, before you do that, there’s actually an easier, less invasive, and cheaper way to confirm ovulation.
Proov Confirm is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm ovulation quality at home. PdG is a urine marker of progesterone and only rises when serum progesterone levels are also elevated.
Unlike a one-time progesterone blood test, with Proov Confirm you can test PdG levels over a period of 4 days after ovulation (i.e. the implantation window). This is critical when it comes to confirming high quality ovulation and allowing for the best possible chance at pregnancy.
Improving ovulation quality naturally
If your Proov Confirm results show high quality ovulation — meaning an egg was released and PdG levels remained elevated through the implantation window — then ovulatory issues are most likely not a barrier to conception and you can move onto the next step. However, if your results show you might be a touch light on PdG, there are a few changes you can make to help improve ovulation quality:
Diet: While foods don’t directly contain PdG, there are some foods which can help improve PdG production like beans, broccoli, pumpkin, or spinach.
Seed Cycling: Seed cycling involves eating different types of seeds during different phases of your cycle. The seeds help promote a hormone balance in your body. You can learn more about seed cycling here!
Herbals: Herbal supplements like vitex, ashwagandha, and maca can all help PdG production and promote a hormone balance.
Supplementation: Bio-identical progesterone supplements are widely available and are to be prescribed by a doctor. We recommend consulting your doctor if you’re interested in a supplement.
Want more ways to help improve ovulation? Check out this blog.
After making one or more of these changes, we recommend retesting ovulation with Proov. If your results improve, then ovulation quality should no longer be a concern and you can move on to step three!
But, if you’ve tried to improve ovulation and still aren’t seeing positive Proov results, this is when we recommend additional testing or consulting your doctor. There are other hormone tests you can try. These include AMH for egg count, FSH and LH for ovary function, and TSH for thyroid function. If any of these tests show hormones out of the normal range, we recommend consulting with your doctor to help you better understand what’s going on.
STEP 3: Check out his swimmers
Once you’ve got the fertile window and healthy ovulation covered, you can check on your partner’s sperm. There are two main aspects of sperm that matter most. These are sperm count and sperm motility. This means there are enough sperm and they can get to where they need to be (the egg).
There are many at-home sperm tests on the market that test sperm count but only a few that test count and motility, so look for a kit that measures both. We like the Yo Home Sperm Test, which you can find here, paired with our Predict & Confirm kit.
If your partner’s sperm test results show he’s all good, then great! You can check this box and move on. If the sperm test shows low sperm count of motility, there are a few things you can do to try to improve results.
Improving sperm naturally
Diet or lifestyle changes: One suggestion for improving sperm is changing his diet or lifestyle. Vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are all very important when producing healthy sperm. Supplements, such as maca root or tribulus terrestris, have been shown to improve sperm count in men. Exercising regularly can also help increase testosterone and sperm quality.
Sperm friendly lubricant: Make sure to check that your lubricant is “sperm friendly.” Many lubricants contain ingredients or have a pH that can be harmful to sperm. Sperm friendly lubricants also mimic the viscosity and consistency of cervical mucus. This creates an ideal environment for the sperm to travel. Our medical advisor, Dr. Aimee, put some popular lubes to the test, see the results for yourself!
Try boxers: Does your partner wear tight underwear? Studies have shown that tight underwear may impair sperm production. Boxers fit more loosely and are preferred if you’re concerned about sperm.
After making these changes, get your partner to retest his sperm. Hopefully the results improve, but if not, we recommend consulting your doctor.
If sperm and ovulation are healthy and you are having intercourse during your fertile window, but still not getting pregnant, we recommend seeing your doctor. They can test you for less common causes of infertility like blocked fallopian tubes, genetic factors, or structural abnormalities within the uterus – things mentioned in the TUSHY method, developed by Dr. Aimee.
Using this checklist could save you time and money
Using this checklist will save you both time and money on your TTC (trying to conceive) journey. It can help you detect any issues that may prevent you from successfully conceiving sooner! Plus, it empowers you to have better conversations with your doctor. Fertility consultations are upwards of $300 and are not unlimited in terms of time with the doctor. The more you know about your fertility, the more effectively you can use that time to help reach your goals faster.
We have reposted this blog with permission and minor edits from Proov.