Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for years, or perhaps, you have just begun. You are either debating whether to see a doctor or you have gone through a battery of fertility tests.
Whatever situation you are in, you are looking probably for the same thing – how to get pregnant. If you are hoping to get pregnant, don’t leave it to luck. Some seem to get pregnant simply by talking about it. For others, it takes plenty of patience and a bit of luck. EHC explores, in a bit old-fashioned way, what you need to know about getting pregnant.
Women are born with about 1-2 million eggs, but only 300 to 400 will be released through ovulation. Usually just one egg is released each month. The egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus, where it is ready to be fertilized. The egg only lives about 12 to 24 hours after leaving the ovary. Sperm can live for about 3 to 5 days, so knowing you are due to ovulate soon can help you and your partner plan the act for when you are most likely to conceive.
Knowing your menstrual cycle improves your chances of getting pregnant. The first phase starts with the first day of your period or blood flow. Your body releases hormones that stimulate eggs to grow within follicles inside your ovaries. Between day 2 and 14, those hormones also help thicken the lining of your uterus to get ready for the implantation of a fertilized egg. This is called the follicular stage.
The average menstrual cycle is 28-32 days. While the exact timing of ovulation can vary, on average it happens between day 11 and 21 of your cycle. A brain hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) surges, triggering the release of the egg that’s most ripe. At the same time, your cervical mucus changes to a slippery, egg-white consistency, to help sperm make their way to the egg.
Generally, the highest chance of pregnancy is when then bedroom play occurs 1-2 days prior to ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having the act every other day around that time – say, days 12 and 14. Keep in mind that having play every day may decrease a man’s sperm count. Your cycle may be longer or shorter, so using an online ovulation calculator may help identify the likely possible days.
End of Your Monthly Cycle
During the second half of your menstrual cycle, progesterone causes the lining of your uterus to thicken in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant. If the egg is not fertilized and implantation does not occur, it disintegrates, progesterone levels fall, and about 12 to 16 days later, the egg – along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus – is expelled. That process, which usually lasts 3 to 7 days, is menstruation. Then the cycle begins again.
Predicting Ovulation by Hormone
A surge in LH is what triggers the egg to be released from your ovaries. Using ovulation kits to check LH levels in your urine can help you pinpoint the day of ovulation. Some kits allow you to test daily to determine when you are ovulating. These kits are convenient and are 99% accurate.
There is a growing body of evidence that links environmental factors to decreases in fertility. If you want to boost your chances of getting pregnant, you may want to eat foods rich in folic acids, buy more organic foods and green products, avoid certain plastics (including plastic wrap), maintain a healthy body weight through diet and exercise, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Weight May Affect Fertility
A study of women found that those whose body mass index (BMI) was above normal took twice as long to get pregnant as those with a normal BMI. Weight loss for those who are overweight or obese can improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes. According to studies, weight loss of 5%-10% can dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates. Obesity is also a cause of infertility and low testosterone levels in men.
Age Affects Your Conception Chances
Age affects the success rates of a woman’s infertility treatments as well as her natural ability to get pregnant. A healthy 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance per month of getting pregnant, while a healthy 40-year-old has a 5% chance. Fertility decreases with age, especially after age 35. Experts say a woman should talk to her doctor if she is under 35 and has been trying to conceive for more than 12 months, or is over 35 and has been trying to conceive for more than 6 months.
Decline in Older Men
Studies show that sperm count and motility decrease as men age, as does senual function. However, unlike women there is no maximum age at which a man can father a child. One study found that it took men age 45 or above longer to achieve a pregnancy once the couple started trying to conceive. If your partner is older, you may want to talk to your doctor about ways to boost your chances of conception.
Treatments for Infertility
A number of factors can cause infertility, so the first step is for your doctor to evaluate you and your partner. Infertility treatments can include taking fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation and in vitro fertilization, which involves removing eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them, and then implanting them back into the uterus.
Home Pregnancy Tests
Home pregnancy tests check your urine for the “pregnancy hormone,” called hCG, that your body produces once a fertilized egg implants in your uterus. Usually a home pregnancy test can tell if you are pregnant as early as five days before your first missed period. You can get a false negative if you test too early, so repeat the test a few days or a week later. Your doctor can provide more accurate results with a blood test.
Early Signs of Pregnancy
- You miss a period.
- You need to urinate frequently.
- You tire easily.
- You’re nauseous in the morning — or all day.
- Your breasts become tender and enlarged.
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