Your fertility plan should be too.
For many couples or individuals, getting pregnant requires a general knowledge of the reproductive system and a whole lot of patience.
In order to achieve pregnancy, sperm must meet with and fertilize an egg around the date of ovulation, which is when a woman’s body releases an egg from the ovary.
For this process to result in pregnancy, the woman needs to ovulate a healthy egg and the man must have healthy sperm that can reach the egg in the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place.
Knowing how to predict the dates of ovulation and timing intercourse around that time is the most important part of getting pregnant naturally. Women are most fertile during the four to five days before ovulation. Couples who are trying to conceive (TTC) should have sex about every other day during the fertile window.
At the age of 20, sexually active, healthy heterosexual couples who are trying to conceive (TTC) have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month.
This percentage per cycle goes down as women age. This means couples should not get discouraged if they’ve been trying to conceive for only a couple of months. Conception takes time.
Below are some ways to improve the odds of getting pregnant.
|Track the female partner’s ovulation||Read more about tracking methods in the section titled “How to predict ovulation” below.|
|Get a physical examination||Underlying medical issues, such as a blocked fallopian tube, can make it harder for a woman to get pregnant. Scheduling a preconception exam with an OB/GYN could be a good idea.
A man can have a similar exam performed by his primary care physician or a urologist.
|Be aware that age affects fertility||The concept of a “biological clock” is very real. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have (about 2 million). That number is reduced to around 300,000 by the time of her first period and then decreases by about 1,000 eggs per month thereafter.Not only does the quantity of eggs diminish as women age, but so does the quality. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says relative fertility decreases by around half for women in their late 30s compared with women in their early 20s.
The age of a woman’s eggs also relates to the genetic health of a resulting embryo, which can affect implantation (when an embryo attaches to the uterus to develop into a pregnancy) and miscarriage.
Age also has a slight effect on male fertility, although not nearly as much and at a different pace than as for female fertility.
|Take steps to get to a healthy weight||Poor nutrition and exercise habits can have an impact on fertility. Women require about 22% of body fat in order to ovulate regularly. Women with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 (obese) or under 18 (severely underweight) may have difficulties with fertility.|
|Stop smoking and recreational drug use when trying to conceive||
ASRM says infertility rates in male and female smokers are about twice those of nonsmokers. Certain drugs can lessen a man’s sperm count and mobility and lower testosterone production, decreasing fertility.
Most women do not find out they are pregnant until they are 4-7 weeks along. Alcohol, tobacco and drug usage during the early weeks of pregnancy can increase the chances of a miscarriage or birth defects.
Ovulation can be tricky to predict as there are not many visible signs of ovulation.
Some women may experience bloating, breast tenderness or mild stomach pain leading up to or during ovulation, but tracking those symptoms is not a reliable way of predicting ovulation.
As we mentioned above, we believe widening the window of timed intercourse and not focusing too much on the day of ovulation is best. However, for peace of mind and to help with timing, below are a few ways to predict ovulation.
The menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of menstrual bleeding one month to the first day of menstrual bleeding the next month. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, however, it is not uncommon for cycles to last 21-36 days.
Most women ovulate on days 14-16 of a 28-day menstrual cycle. This is an average, so ovulation may occur a couple of days sooner or later.
Many individuals or couples track the menstrual cycle with a calendar or a smartphone app. While these apps are helpful to gain a general knowledge of menstrual cycle patterns, each woman’s actual ovulation dates may differ from the average cycle timeline.
Many drug stores sell ovulation predictor kits. These kits test a woman’s urine for the luteinizing hormone (LH), which rises 12-36 hours before ovulation occurs. Testing should begin a few days before the predicted date of ovulation.
Do certain positions during sex promote pregnancy or determine the sex of a baby?
No, this is a fertility myth. Rather than a specific position, the frequency of intercourse is what can influence the chances of becoming pregnant. Additionally, the only way to determine the sex of a child is by using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic testing to select an embryo of certain sex for implantation.
Does a woman have to orgasm in order to become pregnant?
No, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a goal!
Do lubricants decrease pregnancy chances?
Many lubricants contain ingredients that inhibit the sperm’s ability to move through the vagina, cervix, and fallopian tube. There are fertility-friendly lubricants, like Pre-Seed by First Response that is sperm-friendly and PH balanced. Mineral oil also can be used safely.
Should a woman take prenatal vitamins to increase pregnancy chances?
No, these do not improve the chances of getting pregnant. However, prenatal vitamins are beneficial for the woman and the baby during pregnancy. Women are advised to start taking prenatal vitamins three months before planning to get pregnant or immediately when TTC. While taking prenatal vitamins will not increase fertility, they will help prepare the body for pregnancy and help avoid possible congenital abnormalities.
Will having sex more often increase sperm counts in men?
No, in fact, intercourse too frequently does not give men the opportunity to recover the volume of the ejaculate. The most optimal pattern of ejaculation for men is every 2-4 days. Greater than 5 days between ejaculations actually starts to decrease the quality of sperm. More frequent sex during the fertile window does increase pregnancy chances.
Equip yourself with important health and nutrition information for your first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy.
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