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Trying To Conceive Basics

Trying To Conceive Basics

So you’re considering having a baby. What happens now? Is it literally a matter of just doing it, or is there more involved? You’ve probably wondered how long it will take to get pregnant, when to have sex, and how often. Find the answers to some of your questions here.


What are the chances of getting pregnant?

For most couples, the chances of becoming pregnant in any particular month are 15% to 25%. If neither partner has any fertility issues, the approximate chances of conception are:

  • 75% after 6 months
  • 90% after 1 year
  • 95% at 2 years 

There are certain factors that influence the chances of getting pregnant.

  • Age - As women age, egg quality naturally declines. After the age of 30, the chances of conceiving in any month falls and decreases with age, dropping steeply into your 40s. Similarly it is not uncommon for men to produce sperm with abnormal morphology as they age.
  • Menstrual cycles - Having an irregular cycle makes it difficult to predict when you're ovulating, thus making it difficult to know the ideal time to have sex.
  • Frequency of Sex – In basic terms, the more often you have sex, the more likely you are to conceive.
  • Illness or medical conditions can affect chances of falling pregnant

Stopping birth control

If you’re using a barrier method, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as you have sex without it.

Most women are able to get pregnant a few months after they stop birth control that has hormones, such as pills, patches, or an intrauterine device (IUD). The hormone may take a couple of months to leave your system and for ovulation to begin normally again. Talk to your doctor before going off hormonal birth control about what to expect in terms of symptoms.


Knowing more about your menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle begins from the day of your first period (first day of bleeding) up to the day before the start of your next period. A cycle can vary in length from month to month but the average is around 28 days. It is normal to have cycles longer or shorter than this (from 21 to 40 days). It doesn’t matter how long the menstrual cycle is, most women will ovulate around 10 to 16 days before the start of the next cycle.

Having irregular periods doesn’t mean that you won’t get pregnant but it might be more difficult because you may not ovulate regularly. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are not getting regular periods and are struggling to get pregnant.

Tracking ovulation

Ovulation is the process in which a mature egg is released from the ovary. The egg is able to be fertilized for about 12 to 24 hours after it's released. In addition, sperm can live inside the female reproductive tract as long as five days after sexual intercourse under the right conditions.

Understanding when you're ovulating and having sex regularly five days before and on the day of ovulation can improve the odds of conceiving.

  • Keeping a menstrual calendar can help you to determine the length and midpoint of your cycle.
  • Ovulation tests are a good indicator of when ovulation will occur and help you in knowing when your peak fertility days are.
  • Just before ovulation, you might notice an increase in cervical mucus secretions.
  • Your basal body temperature increases slightly during ovulation. Taking your temperature each morning before getting out of bed and recording it, may help you to determine a pattern. You'll be most fertile during the two to three days before your temperature rises. 

Having regular sex

The window of opportunity for a sperm to fertilize an egg is about  3-5 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself.

However your body doesn’t always work like clockwork and instead of spending a lot of energy calculating the best days to have sex, many doctors recommend having sex every two to three days per week starting soon after the end of your period.

Are some positions better than others? The research on the topic is limited and although there are beliefs that missionary is best there aren’t studies to support this. In essence, there is no wrong way to do it when you’re trying to get pregnant! Many lubricants however aren’t sperm friendly so use caution here. 

What to avoid

  • Tobacco has negative effects on fertility, not to mention your general health and the health of a fetus. Talk to your health advisor about how to quit.
  • Heavy alcohol use might lead to decreased fertility. Generally, it's best to avoid alcohol if you're hoping to conceive.
  • Research suggests that fertility isn't affected by caffeine consumption of less than 200 milligrams a day. That's about one to two cups of 6 to 8 ounces of coffee per day.
  • Strenuous exercise. Strenuous, intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with decreased ovulation.

Talk with your healthcare provider about how to prepare for pregnancy in terms of your health and wellness. This may involve updating vaccines and beginning prenatal vitamins. 

When to ask for help

With frequent unprotected sex, most healthy couples conceive within 6-12 months.

If getting pregnant naturally isn’t going as planned after a year, speak to a healthcare professional. Consider seeking help sooner if you're aged 35 or older, or if you or your partner have suspected fertility issues.

Infertility can affect both men and women however treatment is usually available. Trust your instincts if you feel that something isn’t going right and discuss matters with your family doctor, gynecologist or a fertility specialist.

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