We are on the third instalment of the ‘Harley Street Fertility Clinic A to Z of Fertility’ which means today it’s the turn of terms starting with the letter C.

We don’t mean to state the obvious, or to sound patronising, but keeping calm can help you to conceive. We know this can be hard when things aren’t happening and you aren’t getting pregnant, but stress can
affect female ovulation and limit sperm production. If you are feeling stressed, schedule some me time, take a break to do things you enjoy and make sure you are getting some exercise each week. Doing this will help to calm your mind, give you another focus other than having a baby and improve your overall wellbeing.

Capacitation is the process that gives sperm the ability to penetrate and fertilise an egg.

(Bio) Chemical Pregnancy
This is a term that is being used more often and one that describes a very early miscarriage and can be detected before a foetus is seen on an ultrasound. The majority of women who have had a (bio)chemical pregnancy, often don’t’ actually realise they’ve conceived as the only real symptom is a late period, but if you are having treatment and are watching every move your body makes, you may well know what is happening and that can be tough. While a (bio)chemical pregnancy may not harm your body, it can still lead to feelings of deep sadness and grief and we are here to help deal with this.

Chromosomes are tiny threadlike structures that carry the genes that determine all of our inherited characteristics, such as hair and eye colour, blood group, height and build.

Chromosomal Abnormalities
Chromosomal abnormalities are often the explanation for miscarriages. This can happen because the mother’s immune system recognises a problem in a baby’s genes and thus ends the pregnancy, or it could be because a genetic problem causes the baby to stop growing. This is never easy to deal with, and age can also be an issue, but we do work with patients to find out why miscarriage occurs and find ways to deal with that as much as we can.

Clinical Pregnancy
This is a pregnancy that’s been confirmed by an ultrasound showing a heartbeat and gestational sac, and high levels of the pregnancy hormone, HCG.

Most of our patients want to know what the cause of their fertility problems which is only natural and something we aim to achieve. Many cases of female infertility are caused by ovulation problems, such as a low number of eggs to be fertilised or poor quality eggs. Signs that you are not ovulating include irregular or absent periods. Other causes of female infertility include age, weight, lifestyle choices, problems with your fallopian tubes or uterus, as well as the effects of endometriosis. Male infertility can be caused by genetic issues or lifestyle factors, such as smoking.

Your cervix is the entrance to your womb and is found between your vagina and uterus. Your cervix is normally almost closed but there is a tiny opening where blood passes during your period. During labour, your cervix dilates (opens) so your baby can move from the uterus into the vagina.

Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus is a natural fluid that either allows, or stops, sperm from reaching the cervix and then go onto meet an egg and hopefully fertilise it. The cervical mucus also forms a plug during pregnancy to prevent infection spreading into the uterus.

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STI) and while many people do not have symptoms, it can seriously damage a women’s reproductive organs and can cause swelling and tenderness of the scrotum (the pouch containing the testes) in men. We suggest having STI checks as appropriate (e.g. before sleeping with a new partner) and to have protected sex if you aren’t trying for a baby.

Clomid, also known as clomiphene citrate, is a fertility drug that encourages your ovaries to release eggs. This medication is particularly helpful for women with polycystic ovary syndrome and can also be used to boost egg production before you start fertility treatment.

Clotting of the blood has been identified as a possible cause for a pregnancy not progressing. In some cases, this can be treated by taking blood thinning drugs, such as Aspirin or low molecular weight heparin, which stop the clotting, but it is something you need discuss with your medical team if it is an issue you suffer from.

Complementary Therapies
While there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that complementary therapies address fertility problems, they can have a positive impact on your quality of life. Therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology can reduce the stress and anxiety thereby making it easier to conceive.

We won’t lie, there can be complications when you are trying to get pregnant, and even during pregnancy. We always say that it is best to flag anything you are worried about so that either treatment can be carried out, or your mind can be put at rest because there isn’t a problem at all.

We have control over many things in our lives, but unfortunately, we cannot control our bodies and fertility. We work with patients to give them the very best chance of conceiving a baby and carrying it to full term, but we cannot 100% control the outcome. What we can do is help you to be healthy during your pregnancy and remind you to try and be calm and to relax as much as you can so you keep stress to a minimum, as this won’t help you or your baby.

Controlled Ovarian Stimulation
Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) is the process of stimulating follicular growth and ovulation using fertility drugs, such as FSH or Clomid.

Keeping testicles cool can boost male fertility. Tight underwear, as well as hot showers and baths, raise the temperature of the testicles, so it is best to keep things cool down below.

Conception happens when a man’s sperm fertilises a woman’s egg, and this is the aim for nearly all our patients.

Cramping and spotting can happen during early pregnancy. It isn’t always a sign that something is wrong, but it is worth getting it checked at the clinic or A&E.

Cryopreservation is the freezing of cells, or tissue, so that they are preserved and can be used in the future. Freezing goes for eggs, embryos and sperm and is something we can talk about if it is of interest to you.
For many people, infertility can feel like a crisis. We work hard with patients to look at all the options for them and also offer counselling so you are able to talk over your emotions and come to terms with this challenging situation. With the right support and advice, you will see that this is not a crisis but something you will be able to overcome.

Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period, and while the average cycle is 28 days, slightly shorter or longer cycles are normal.

If you have any questions about these terms, or anything to do with your fertility, please get in touch and we would love to talk things over and see how we could help.

Harley Street Fertility Clinic