Starting a family is a large but rewarding undertaking, and oftentimes, people place a lot of forethought and planning as to when they want to start a family. When it is finally time to get your family started, it can be disheartening and frustrating when things just don’t seem to be working out and you are unable to conceive.
Conception is more of a delicate dance than many people know, and hundreds of factors go into it. Timing, fertilization, and implantation are all things that need to occur in a specific order to allow for a viable pregnancy. Understanding the timeline of conception as well as common places where it can go wrong can be helpful for those struggling to get pregnant.
Fertility is often looked at as a singular and separate issue, but in reality, your overall wellbeing and health play an important role in the ability to conceive. Below is a closer look at the timeline of conception, the possible things that can go wrong when trying to conceive, as well as a look at the relationship between CoQ10 and fertility.
The timeline of conception
Conception is a highly delicate event that requires multiple things to occur in a specific order to happen. In a lot of ways, you can think of a conception like a solar eclipse, where the positioning of the sun, earth, and moon need to be just right for it to occur.
The three distinct events of conception are ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. If at any point one event goes askew it can mean having to try all over again. Below is a closer look at the three separate events surrounding conception and what goes into making sure they occur.
Ovulation is the process by which the ovaries release a mature egg. Ovulation typically occurs once a month, and it is important to have a good idea of when you are ovulating because there is not much time between ovulation and it being too late for fertilization to more easily occur.
During a woman’s reproductive years, ovulation will typically occur on a recurring monthly basis and is closely tied to the menstrual cycle. On average, a woman will ovulate roughly two weeks before the start of their next period. If conception is desired, talk with your doctor to help transition you off of the pill.
Fertilization is the point at which sperm integrates itself into an egg and becomes a zygote. When separate, egg and sperm are considered haploid, which means that they both only contain one set of chromosomes. Once combined to form a zygote, it is considered diploid.
Fertilization is a highly coordinated event that requires the egg to travel down a structure known as the fallopian tubes and for sperm to swim up to the fallopian tubes to meet the egg.
Fertilization is often times the most difficult aspect of conception because the timing of the egg in the fallopian tube is so narrow, and it requires sperm to be resilient enough to make the long trek in high enough numbers, as even when the egg and sperm meet, the sperm needs to make it through the selective and protective barrier of the egg before it is fertilized.
Implantation is the process by which a fertilized egg then implants to the walls of the uterus known as the endometrium. The endometrium is the uterine lining that is built up on a monthly basis and shed during menstruation.
In the event that a fertilized egg reaches the endometrium and attaches, the hormone progesterone continues to be secreted by a structure known as the corpus luteum. When an egg fails to implant, progesterone levels plummet and cause the endometrium to shed and a woman to menstruate.
From implantation, it is a long nine months of development where the once small fertilized egg transitions from a zygote, to an embryo, to a fetus, and eventually a newborn baby. During pregnancy, the developing fetus gets its nutrition and oxygen through the umbilical cord that is attached to the endometrium by the placenta.
Within the placenta, the exchange of different molecules occurs. From mother to fetus, oxygen, antibodies, vitamins, and water are provided. In addition, the placenta acts as a means of eliminating waste such as carbon dioxide and urea, and it also acts as a source of hormones for the mother during pregnancy.
Factors that affect ability to conceive
As you can tell throughout the timeline of conception and pregnancy that the entire process is quite complex. With this complexity comes the ability to develop and sustain life but this all comes at the cost of potential things to go wrong.
Going into detail about every way things can go wrong can be exhaustive, and for those trying to conceive, it is oftentimes more helpful to understand what can be done in terms of making changes within their own life of the larger factors at play when it comes to why conception is not occurring.
Many people view reproductive health and general health as two separate concepts, and this thinking is flawed. Reproductive health is intertwined with overall health, and an effect on your overall health can certainly have an impact on your reproductive health.
A common example is being overweight. Obesity is known to be linked to infertility in both men and women, but how obesity can contribute to infertility is believed to be multifactorial. Obesity can cause hormonal changes, changes in insulin resistance, increased scrotum temperature, low sperm count, and much more. Any one of these can lead to a more difficult time getting pregnant.
Another factor that can play a role in fertility is a previous pregnancy. A healthy and successful previous pregnancy can be a good indication that your fertility is intact. On the flip side, a previous pregnancy that had a complication or required surgery could lead to what is known as secondary infertility.
While secondary infertility can occur with complications of pregnancy, this isn’t to say it will happen. If you find that getting pregnant the second time around is more difficult, it may be a good idea to visit a fertility specialist.
Age is a large factor when it comes to fertility. Women have a limited number of eggs, and as you increase in age, the number of ovulation cycles left slowly declines. In addition, higher age pregnancies can result in a higher chance of infertility and problems during pregnancy.
Sleep is an important aspect of your overall wellbeing, and when you lack it, it can be detrimental to your health, including your reproductive health. The reproductive system of both men and women is regulated through the balance of hormones within the body. Sleep is an integral aspect of hormonal health and without good, quality sleep, your hormonal balance and subsequently your fertility can be affected.
This effect is prevalent in those that work the night shift during the week. In these situations, these individuals typically have a work sleep schedule and a normal sleep schedule. This flip-flopping of sleeping during the day then sleeping at night the next day is not good for your overall health and making sleep a priority can help to provide you better chances of conceiving.
CoQ10 & fertility
CoQ10 is a supplement that is taken to help support the energy powerhouse of the cell known as mitochondria. CoQ10 levels can drop due to a number of different factors but ultimately a decline in CoQ10 can lead to less efficient mitochondria.
While CoQ10 may seem completely unrelated to fertility, there is actually a potential link between the two. A study in 2015 found that a decrease in mitochondrial functioning was linked to having less motile sperm while having strong mitochondrial functioning in the sperm was associated with more motile sperm. Sperm motility plays an integral role in fertilization and supporting your mitochondrial health may convey benefits to male fertility if low sperm motility is the cause.
Improve your chances
In summary, fertility is a multifactorial aspect of health that involves a lot of moving parts. If you are experiencing difficulties conceiving, seeking the expertise of a fertility specialist may be the best option to get to the root cause.
While there are things you can try such as living a healthier lifestyle, getting quality sleep, and taking MitoQ, there is no guarantee that these will help your specific issue. A fertility specialist can work with you to discover the root cause of the difficulties and create a dedicated plan for you.
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