What Happens When You Fall Pregnant
For a woman to get pregnant, a mans sperm must fertilise her egg. A woman releases an egg from her ovary once every month. This usually happens about 14 days before the first day of her next period.
Most women ovulate each month. Occasionally, more than one egg is released, usually within 24 hours of the first egg. At the same time, the lining of the uterus begins to thicken and the mucus in the cervix becomes thinner so that sperm can swim through it more easily. The egg begins to travel slowly down the Fallopian tube, a tube that stretches from the ovary to the uterus.
If there has been recent sexual intercourse with ejaculation by the man, the egg is most likely to be fertilised in the Fallopian tube. The lining of the uterus is now thick enough for the egg to be implanted in it after fertilisation.
The level of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone changes in a womans body during pregnancy. As soon as she has conceived, the amount of oestrogen and progesterone in her blood increases. This causes the uterus lining to build up, the blood supply to the uterus and breasts to increase and the muscles of the uterus to relax to make room for the growing baby.
If the egg is not fertilised, it passes out of the body during the woman’s monthly period, along with the lining of the uterus, which is also shed. The egg is so small that it cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Don’t Worry About The Best Positions For Getting Pregnant
Myths abound about the best positions for getting pregnant, but they are just that — myths. There is really no scientific evidence saying that the missionary position is better than the woman being on top when it comes to maximizing your chances of making a baby.
“Very rarely, a woman’s cervix is in an unusual position where certain positions can make a difference,” Goldfarb tells WebMD.
Certain gravity-defying positions, such as sitting or standing during intercourse, however, may discourage sperm from traveling upstream. “It’s a matter of gravity you don’t want all the semen to run out — and semen are quick little critters,” Hillard says.
Testing Ovulation With An Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Ovulation test kits are more accurate when you have a regular cycle because its easier to predict the midway point of your cycle. But dont worry ovulation testing can still work if you have an irregular cycle. Youll just have to test more often.
While women with a regular cycle only need to test ovulation once a month, someone with an irregular cycle will have to test more frequently. Youll start testing a few days after your period and then once every week thereafter.
Even with an irregular cycle, you can look for the telltale signs of ovulation indicating that its time to start using a test kit. Youll need to pay attention to bodily changes like vaginal discharge and basal body temperature.
Start using an ovulation test kit if you notice any of these symptoms:
- increased cervical mucus, particularly discharge that feels slippery when wiping or has an egg-white-like consistency
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What If You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome , a hormonal disorder, is one of the most common reasons for female infertility. It affects between 6% and 12% of American women of reproductive age.
There is no single test to identify PCOS, but a doctor will determine if a woman fulfills two of the following three criteria,the CDC said:
- Irregular periods or no periods, caused from lack of ovulation
- Higher than normal levels of male hormones that may result in excess hair on the face and body, acne or thinning scalp hair
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries
It is not clear why some women develop this syndrome, although it is often diagnosed when they struggle to get pregnant.
There is a strong link between PCOS-related infertility and weight. About 40% to 60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese, and healthy eating and exercise have been shown to improve reproductive problems in women with PCOS, according to a 2019 article in the journal Therapeutic Advcances in Reproductive Health. A number of prescribed medications may also induce ovulation and regulate insulin levels, such asletrozole and metformin. High levels of insulin push thepituitary gland to release large amounts of hormones thatdisrupt ovulation.
Doctors recommend in-vitro fertilization if other interventions have not worked, or as a primary treatment if monitoring, cost and accessibility are not issues.
Role Of Micronutrients In Fertility
Because fertility is a complex equation, and each persons body is different, the science around micronutrients and conception is still, shall we say, in its infancy.
That said, some promising studies have begun to shed light on the role of vitamins in getting and staying pregnant.
Vitamins play important roles in female health. Theyre essential for many functions, including:
- menstruation and ovulation
- immune function
- oocyte quality and maturation
So, adequate vitamin and mineral intake is critical when trying to create the right environment for a healthy pregnancy. Some nutrients may even reduce symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome , a common underlying cause of infertility.
Its important to remember, though, that more research is needed.
Weve broken down some of the most popular supplements for fertility, with the deets on their use, effectiveness, and dosage.
Who its for: Men and women
Claimed fertility benefit: Helps sperm motility contains antioxidants that promote healthy female reproductive system
When you think vitamins, acetyl L-carnitine may not be the first to spring to mind. But that doesnt mean it shouldnt be on your radar.
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Risk Of Genetic Problems
Besides low-quality semen, age also affects the genetic quality of male sperm.
In a study conducted at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, researchers discovered that genetic defects in the sperm increase with age in men.
These genetic sperm defects may cause:
- Increased risk of some birth defects
- Increased risk of stillbirth
The scientists reported that older men are not only at risk for infertility. They are also more likely to pass on genetic problems to their children. A combination of female age and male age can further increase the risk of birth defects. Take for example the risk of Down syndrome. In women, the risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases with age.
In a study of just over 3,000 children, researchers found that when a woman was age 35 or older, a mans age mattered more. This was especially true if the woman was age 40 or older. In this group, 50% of the children with Down syndrome received that genetic defect on their paternal side.
Down syndrome isnt the only risk that increases with paternal age. Older fathers are more likely to have children with:
- achondroplasia, a kind of dwarfism
Quit And Avoid Smoking To Increase Chances Of Getting Pregnant
To suggest to anyone that they should quit smoking is probably a given. However, when it comes to smoking and pregnancy, it cannot be stressed enough. Studies have shown that women who smoke have an increased chance of infertility and take much longer to get pregnant. It also puts women at risk for an ectopic pregnancy, complications, and miscarriages.
This also includes men. Cigarettes, even more so, have been known to dwindle sperm count and quality. Even second-hand smoke is considered to be just as risky for a womans fertility.
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How Else Can You Increase The Chances Of Getting Pregnant
Often, when couples are trying to conceive, they focus so intensely on their reproductive health, they neglect their overall health. Life becomes all about cervical mucus, sperm count, and doing the deed. But it’s important to pay attention to your health in general because issues like weight, smoking, stress, and medications can affect fertility too, Dr. Chen says. Before trying to conceive, it’s a good idea for both you and your guy to have a medical checkup to discuss any issues that may affect fertility or pregnancy.
Eat Foods Rich In Antioxidants
Antioxidants like folate and zinc may improve fertility for both men and women. They deactivate the free radicals in your body, which can damage both sperm and egg cells.
One 2012 study of young, adult men found that eating 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts per day improved sperm quality.
A study of 232 women showed that higher folate intake was associated with higher rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth.
The jury is still out on how much antioxidants will or wont affect fertility, but theres evidence pointing to the potential.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains are packed full of beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta carotene, and lutein. Eating more of these healthy foods shouldnt hurt in the effort.
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Cut Back On Caffeine And Alcohol
Its bad enough trying to survive nine months of pregnancy without a morning cup of coffee or a Friday night glass of winebut do you really have to cut back on your extracurricular beverages before you get pregnant, too?
If youre looking to maximize your fertility, then its not a bad idea. Masterson says its important to pay attention to all the things youre putting in your body when youre trying to conceive: everything from caffeine and alcohol to prescription medications and radiation exposure can affect your hormone levels and, ultimately, your fertility.
Dont drink more than two cups of coffee per day and pay attention to how much soda, chocolate, and energy drinks youre consuming, since those also contain caffeine, she says. And excessive use of alcohol has been linked to decreased fertility ratesnot to mention that it can lower estrogen levels, which can affect ovulation.
Top 21 Tips To Improve Your Chances Of Pregnancy
Here are a few tips to better your chances of getting pregnant.
Avoid excess consumption of junk foods and include fruits, veggies, meat, fish, and dairy products in your diet. Also, exercise regularly to maintain your body weight. This will further enhance your fertility by promoting sperm quality and healthy ovum.
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Try Not To Stressseriously
Honestly, relax and just let it happen, are two things no one wants to hear when trying to conceive but sometimes, lessening stress can help.
According to Masterson, meditation and other stress reduction techniques can help increase fertility rates, because stress hormones can affect the hormones that trigger ovulation. She recommends trying mindfulness activities, setting aside some time every day to meditate, or just doing your best to keep conceiving fun .
Do You Know What Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant Really Are
It is possible to get pregnant on every day of a womans cycle.
Myth. Womens menstrual cycles have a fertile window of about 6 days, ending in the day of ovulation. However, the fertile window may occur on different days within the cycle.
A woman is likely to get pregnant on the days right after her period.
Myth. In most menstrual cycles, there are some days between the end of the period and the beginning of the fertile window however, in some unusual cycles, the fertile window starts before her period ends. This is more common in women who are nearing menopause.
A woman is likely to get pregnant on the days right before her period.
Myth. In most menstrual cycles, there are at least 10 days after ovulation and before the next period. Intercourse during these days will not result in pregnancy. However, in some unusual cycles, ovulation and the fertile window may be delayed, so you cannot rely on counting days to know for sure when ovulation happens.
A woman is likely to get pregnant around the middle of her cycle.
Myth and fact. For many women, ovulation happens around the middle of the cycle. However, in women with regular cycles, ovulation may occur as early as day 9 or as late as day 21. With an irregular cycle, ovulation may occur even earlier than day 9 or much later than day 21.
A woman is less likely to get pregnant on days when vaginal secretions are present.
It is impossible for women to identify the fertile window of the menstrual cycle.
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Stop Smoking Recreational Drugs Alcohol
It’s best to avoid smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol while you are trying to get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.
If you smoke or take recreational drugs then giving up will improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to your baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. If your partner smokes, drinks or takes drugs then it is also important that they cut down on these substances while you are trying to get pregnant. Apart from the secondary effects on you, cigarettes, recreational drugs and alcohol can all have an adverse effect on the quality of sperm.
How Can You Increase Your Chances Of Natural Conception
Ah yes, the million-dollar question. Because there are many factors that influence your chances of conceiving, there are several different things you can do to tip the scales in your favor.
Arguably the most important thing you can do to boost your odds is to track your cycles and time intercourse or insemination around ovulation. After all, if you aren’t having sex or inseminating during the fertile window, your chances of conception are zero. Because the chances of conception increase in the five days before ovulation and peak the day before ovulation, you should be having sex within this window if you’re looking to conceive. While some sources suggest you should be having intercourse every other day in this window, there arent empirical studies suggesting what the optimal intercourse frequency is, but its likely that more frequent = better.
To figure out where in your cycle you are, using ovulation predictor kits is a good idea to better understand when you’re ovulating they measure your hormones to give you a heads up on that egg’s release. You can also use so-called sympto-thermal methods of cycle tracking, which involve taking your basal temperature and examining certain symptoms like your cervical mucus consistency to pinpoint when your fertile window starts and ends. Previous work has shown that cycle tracking using these symptoms can increase chances of pregnancy among TTC people with ovaries, both who have and have not had difficulty conceiving.
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Strive For A Healthy Body Weight
A woman’s weight can also impact the chances of conceiving: Being overweight or underweight may reduce those odds. Research has shown that a woman who is overweight can take twice as long to become pregnant as a woman whose body-mass index is considered normal weight, Pavone said. A woman who is underweight might take four times as long to conceive, she said.
Having too much body fat produces excessestrogen, which can interfere with ovulation,according to the Cleveland Clinic. A 2017 study suggested that couples in the study in which both partners were very obese, with BMIs of at least 35, took from 55% to 59% longer to become pregnant, compared with couples who were not obese, the researchers reported in the journalHuman Reproduction.
In a study published in 2020 in the journal PLOS One, researchers looked at data from more than 50,000 couples in China trying to conceive over the course of a year they found that women’s ability to conceive within a given timeframe decreased as their BMI increased.
Male obesity, which can disrupt the male endocrine system as well as sperm viability and concentration, can also affect a couple’s ability to become pregnant, scientists reported in 2020 in the journalAndrologia.
Women who are underweight, with a BMI less than 18, might not be getting regular periods or could stop ovulating, which also hinders their ability to become pregnant, according to theUniversity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.