What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine . Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or in how the body works.
To help prevent NTDs in your baby, start taking a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day before you get pregnant. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you dont get enough of in the foods you eat. Start taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day at least 1 month before pregnancy and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Your folic acid supplement can be:
- A multivitamin. This is a pill that contains many vitamins and other nutrients that help your body stay healthy.
- A prenatal vitamin. This is a multivitamin that has nutrients you need during pregnancy. Your health care provider may give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, or you can get them over the counter without a prescription.
- A supplement that contains just folic acid.
Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, you should take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
How Often Should You Have Sex To Get Pregnant
You may think that cutting down on sex to “save” your guy’s spermor only having sex during ovulationwill make getting pregnant easier. But abstaining too much can throw off conception. Indeed, while holding off on sex can increase sperm count, it can also decrease sperm motility. What’s more, “it’s easy to miss the fertile period if sex is limited only to when you think you’re ovulating, because many women believe they’re ovulating when they actually aren’t,” says Samuel Wood, M.D., medical director at The Reproductive Sciences Center in La Jolla, CA.
How Much Physical Activity Do You Need Each Day
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity activity, like fast walking, and strength-training 2 days a week. These recommendations change depending on the intensity of your workouts. And you dont have to do all 2½ hours at once. Do a little bit each day to break it up throughout the week.
If youre already physically active, keep it up! If youre starting or re-starting exercise, take it slowly. Talk to your provider before you start any physical activity if:
- You have heart disease or are at risk for heart disease.
- Youve had a stroke or are at risk for having a stroke.
- You have diabetes or are at risk for having diabetes.
- Youre obese. If you’re obese, you have an excess amount of body fat and your body mass index is 30 or higher. BMI is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight.
- It can help you find out if you need to gain or lose weight..
- Youve had surgery or you have an injury or disability.
- Youve had eye surgery or laser treatment on your eyes, or you have a bleeding or detached retina. The retina is the nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Physical activity can help reduce your risk of having certain health conditions that can cause problems for you and your baby during pregnancy, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart conditions. It also can help you manage stress, sleep better and quit smoking.
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Dealing With Low Sperm Counts
If sperm counts are borderline normal or on the lower side, the general recommendation is to have sex every other day during the fertile window.
For example, if on Monday you get your first positive ovulation predictor test result, or you see fertile cervical mucus, you should have sex on Monday, skip Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday, skip Thursday, and once more on Friday. The day in between will help replenish the sperm supply, possibly increasing your chances of pregnancy.
Use Apps And Tests To Identify Your Most Fertile Time
Adding in apps and tests to help you identify your most fertile time can be really helpful. As I share in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, “Some providers don’t recommend using ovulation predictor kits right away because they worry that we might become too reliant on the technology. If you miss the subtle physical body signs described above, you might miss your window of fertility.” Ultimately, you get to be the boss here and choose the method that works best for you.
If you decide to incorporate fertility apps and tests into your getting pregnant plant, here are a few to try:
- Ovulation strips : Just pee on the strip. If the test line is as dark or darker than the control, you are likely fertile.
- Fertility monitors : These trackers can tell you when your fertility is low, high and peak.
- Apps : They allow you to track your period, ovulation signs and tests, intercourse and insemination, and even your sleep to help you determine your most fertile windows.
- Wearable devices : When you wear it on your wrist overnight, this device detects changes in your body that indicate approaching ovulation.
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Q: If Im Trying To Conceive When Is The Best Time To Have Sex To Maximize My Chances Of Becoming Pregnant
A: Pregnancy occurs after ovulation, when the egg is released into the body and then fertilized by sperm. What a lot of people dont realize, though, is that once youve ovulated, you have just about a 12 hour period of time to conceive.
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Thats because the lifespan of an egg, once it has ovulated, is only about 24 hours which means that if that egg is not fertilized within the first 12 hours after ovulation, conception is likely not going to happen.
Because of this small post-ovulation window, its important to have sex in advance of ovulation, if you can. Sperm can survive inside your cervix for about 72 hours, so having intercourse in the three day-span before you ovulate will give you higher chances of getting pregnant. That way, by the time the egg is released, theres already sperm inside the cervical reservoirs waiting to fertilize it.
One of the most surefire ways to know when youre going to ovulate is to use over-the-counter ovulation strips, which help you identify when youre about to ovulate and thus, when you should be having sex in order to maximize the likelihood of conception.
Reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Laura Detti, MD
When Does Ovulation Happen
Ovulation usually happens about 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, so it helps to know your cycle length before you start trying to get pregnant.
You may have not known when you ovulate within your cycle, and if you have been using a hormone contraceptive such as the Pill, you wont have had a natural menstrual cycle for a while, because the Pill prevents ovulation from happening.
As a first step, mark on your diary the dates that you bleed during a period. You can then count how many days from the first day of your period to your next period to work out the length of your cycle.
The following signs can also help you know when you ovulate:
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Things You Need To Know Before Pregnancy
Preconception care is necessary during your reproductive years, whether you expect to get pregnant or not. One factor is that half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Unplanned pregnancies are also more prone to premature delivery and low birth weight. Preconception care is taking good care of your body and mind before you become pregnant. This healthy lifestyle may benefit everyone. So, whether youre attempting to conceive or think you might want to in the near future, here are some things to consider.
Check Your Family Tree
Get the scoop on the health history on both sides of the family tree . Its especially important to find out if theres a history of genetic or chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or fragile X syndrome.
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Get Your Partner Involved
- Stay fit and healthy Your partner should try to be as active as possible, reduce alcohol, stop smoking and eat a healthy diet.
- Use sperm-friendly lubricantMake sure any lubricant you use isn’t ‘spermicidal’ or toxic to sperm. You can buy ‘sperm-friendly’ lubricants that are specially formulated.
- Keep testes coolYour partner should wear loose underwear and avoid hot baths. Consistent or prolonged ‘heating’ of the testes can reduce sperm quality.
Avoid Toxic Substances And Environmental Contaminants
Avoid harmful chemicals, environmental contaminants, and other toxic substances such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces around the home and in the workplace. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women. They can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to diseases. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from toxic substances at work and at home.
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How To Spot The Signs Of Ovulation
Ovulation usually happens about 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, so it helps to know your cycle length before you start trying to conceive.
You may never have considered when you might ovulate within your cycle, and if you have been using a hormone contraceptive such as the Pill, you wont have had a natural menstrual cycle for a while.
As a first step, mark on your ovulation calendar the dates that you bleed during a period. You can then count how many days from the first day of your period to your next period to work out the length of your cycle.
Read Your Body’s Signs Of Ovulation
Here are the physical signs of ovulation to pay attention to:
- Cervical mucus: Cervical mucus is the normal vaginal discharge that changes as you progress through your cycle. It will go from nonexistent or dry to sticky, then creamy, and then wet, and then finally it will be the consistency of egg whites. That egg-white consistency means it’s fertile cervical mucus and indicates that you are about to ovulate. It’s the most sperm-friendly because they can easily swim through it up to the uterus.
- Basal body temperature drop: If you’re taking your temperature every day to chart your cycle using a fertility app or chart, you’ll notice that just as you ovulate, you may see a slight drop in your basal body temperature, followed by an increase.
- Cervical position: If you’re up for doing your own vaginal exam, you might note that your cervix is softer, higher and more open around the time of ovulation.
You may also experience slight pain/cramping, breast tenderness, spotting and an increased interest in sex around your ovulation window.
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Having Sex Throughout The Month
While some women feel empowered by tracking ovulation, others just feel anxious and overwhelmed by it all. Whatever method of ovulation tracking you choosechecking your temperature every morning, using ovulation detection strips, checking your saliva for ferning, checking your cervical mucus, or all of the abovepaying close attention to your cycles and ovulation signs can be emotionally exhausting.
If timing sex for ovulation is causing anxiety, you can instead just rely on regularly timed sex. In these cases, experts suggest having sex every week, about every other day. Following this schedule, you’re bound to have sex at least once during your fertile window, even without tracking your cycle.
Aim to have sex at least three to four times a week, throughout your cycle. There is a theory that semen may be helpful to the developing embryo. This means that sex after ovulation, and after you’ve conceived in fact, may help your pregnancy “stick.” Another good reason for more sex.
Decide: Will You Wing Itor Plan It
If you are trying to get pregnant through sex, do you want to take more of a let’s see what happens” approach to getting pregnant, or would you feel better charting and strategizing? Either is fine! And know that you can change your mind as you go.
If you decide to have a conception plan, then understanding your cycle is key.
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Get A Preconception Checkup
Before you officially start trying, get a checkup. Ask your doctor aboutprenatal vitaminsthat havefolic acid, which helps protect against some birth defects, such asspina bifida. Folic acid works during the early stages of pregnancy, so that’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough folic acid even before you get pregnant.
“Do this the cycle before you start trying,” says Paula Hillard, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University. “If you have any underlying medical problems, they need to be under control before you can safely become pregnant.”
Know The Best Position To Get Pregnant
When it comes to the best position to get pregnant, it can be hard to separate real advice from old wives’ tales. Dr. Williams gives some tips to get pregnant fast.
Lie on your back after sex. “Because the vagina naturally slopes downward, resting on your back after sex allows sperm to pool there, which gives them an edge in swimming toward your egg,” says Dr. Williams. Should you keep your legs elevated, too? It can’t hurt, he says, but it probably doesn’t help any more than lying down does.
Have sex before bed. Though some sources report that sperm count is highest in the morning, the truth is that there’s no optimal time of day to have sex. However, doing so before you hit the hay is an easy way to ensure you stay on your back afterward.
Keep it vanilla. While there’s no single sex position that’s best for baby-making , stick to one where you’ll be on your back when it’s over.
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Natural Ways To Increase Your Fertility
Not everyone needs or wants medical intervention to get pregnant. There are natural things you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant each month.
Day 1: Quit Tobacco Alcohol And Drugs
Smoking, using drugs, and drinking alcohol can harm an unborn baby in a number of ways. Smoking exposes your baby to harmful chemicals, restricts blood flow, and may even cause preterm labor.
Drinking puts baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome . Using drugs is not only illegal, but it also may cause birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
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Day : Track Your Cycle
Whether youve been on birth control or not, nows the time to get intimate with your menstrual cycle. Narrowing down the window of when youre most fertile will help you get pregnant faster.
Plus, having an understanding of your cycles will help you discover if anything is off and might need addressing .
Start by simply recording when your period starts and ends to see how the length of your cycle changes from month to month. You can note anything like irregular bleeding and spotting, too. The average menstrual cycle length is around 28 days, but it can range from 21 to 35 days and still fall in the normal, healthy range. There are many apps out there to help you with tracking as well.
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. A number of prescribed medications may also induce ovulation and regulate insulin levels, such as letrozoleand metformin. High levels of insulin push the pituitary gland to release large amounts of hormones that disrupt 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.
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