Relax a Busy Lifestyle to Increase Fertility

With more and more women building high-powered careers, childbearing tends to be forgotten until a milestone, like a 35th,39th or 40th birthday, reminds us that it’s time to get on with the rest of our lives.

When the urge strikes, it’s one of the most powerful wishes known to mankind. We say we’re “nesting” or our “biological clocks are ticking”, and women (and often men) who are in the throes of the urge want to run right out and do it now.

But if your lifestyle has been built around a fast pace, your body may not be prepared to pop out a baby on a minute’s notice. Rather than speeding to the drugstore for an ovulation predictor, you might want to spend a lazy weekend at a romantic B&B. Stress and the mind do more than we know to control fertility. People who have
despaired of ever having children finally give up “trying” and adopt a child before miraculously getting pregnant.

All this is to say that, while there are people who have problems with getting pregnant, most people can do it as easily as falling off a log—providing they’re willing to put in a little more time and a lot less effort.



Ovulation, Conception, and Fertility Predictions by Your Doctor

A woman once blamed her doctor for getting her pregnant. It seems he forgot to tell her that the antibiotics he had prescribed for her might render the birth control pill ineffective. When doctors mess up, they mess up bad, and a doctor who isn’t paying attention can make mistakes that effect patients’ fertility and conception.

Probably one of the bigger mistakes that doctors make revolves around the fact that women’s menstrual cycles are individual. The 28-day cycle is an average, and any doctor who assumes that patients are on a 28-day calendar will make mistakes in testing that relies on accurate timing. Your doctor should schedule a test of the quality of cervical mucus within 24 hours after the surge of luteinizing hormone. Called a “post-coital exam, this test checks on how well sperm can swim through the cervical mucus. Another test whose accuracy depends on exquisite timing is the serum progesterone test. This blood test has to be
made precisely seven days after ovulation to check whether your progesterone levels are correct. Progesterone prepares the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg.

Your doctor should be aware that your cycle may very well differ from the 28-day average, and may ask you to keep a cycle journal or to use fertility testing kits to determine accurate testing dates.

(One reason that first pregnancies have historically been “late” is that the doctor’s delivery prediction was usually based on asking the date of the last period without asking how long the cycle was. This resulted in miscalculation of the delivery date, and since many women have 30 days cycles, when doctors used calendars for pregnancy information, they were often too early in their predictions.)

Semen analysis should be performed to make sure that the man’s sperm cells are numerous and viable. Measles can result in male sterility, and a high fever can reduce sperm count. Doctors will probably also take a sexual history to rule out the chances of infertility caused by STDs.



Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

The period that never comes is the classic sign of pregnancy, but some women get a clue before that. Many symptoms of pregnancy can arise right away: headache, nausea, fatigue, skin breakouts and increased sensitivity to scent are among the less delightful signs of impending motherhood.

If you think you might be pregnant but aren’t totally sure, you can wait until the 28th day of your cycle and then take a home pregnancy test. If you take one before the last day of your cycle, you stand a pretty good chance of getting a false negative reading.

Or, you can wait another day or two and see whether your period arrives. The old fashioned method is a lot cheaper, but sometimes, you just gotta know right away. If you don’t get pregnant right away, there may be a perfectly practical explanation. If you have been taking the birth control pill,
your body may take a while to get back into the rhythm of ovulation, and it may be more than a month before it’s back on track. If you have used Depo-Provera, it could be as long as a year, and again, that’s natural. When we interfere with our bodies hormonally, they respond, and it takes time for them to reset their internal regulating functions.

When you don’t get pregnant, there may be one or more reasons behind it. If your partner has a low sperm count, you may have trouble conceiving. If there are problems with the viability of eggs, pregnancy may not occur. Many very early pregnancies terminate naturally after a few days, and women don’t even know it because they haven’t even shown signs of pregnancy yet. These early terminations are nature’s way of preventing a pregnancy when the embryo is not viable.

Most women of childbearing age, if they are having regular, unprotected sex, have a 20-40% chance of getting pregnant in each cycle. Accumulated over the course of six months, your chances of getting pregnant are very good indeed. Your age also has a bearing on how long it takes to conceive. Women under 25 years of age have a 96% chance of getting pregnant within a year of trying. Women age 26-34 have an 86% chance, and women 36-44 have a 78% chance of getting pregnant within a year.

The older you are, the shorter the time you should wait before contacting a doctor. It’s counterintuitive since as you can see above, the older you are, the lower your chances of conceiving, but the older you are, the less you should wait. When people do have problems with fertility, addressing the problem sooner maximizes the chances they have of still being fairly young when the baby is born, so you don't want to wait too long. If you are under 30 years old, don’t be surprised if it takes as long as a year to get pregnant. If you’re between 30 and 35, expect to wait up to nine months: if you haven’t conceived by then, you may want to see your doctor. If you’re between 36 and 40,see your doctor if you haven’t conceived after six months, and if you’re forty or over, you may want to see your doctor after three months.

Your gynecologist will refer you for fertility testing, and if you don’t conceive after around six months of working with your doctor, you may decide to work with a doctor who specializes in fertility treatments.



Calculate Chances of Conception

Researchers found that couples who had sex every day had a 25% chance of conceiving, while couples who had sex every other day had a 22% chance.

Once-a-week sex drops the chances of conceiving to 10%. So, if you want to get pregnant in the most time-efficient manner, sex-every-other-day will help you get the job done while leaving you time to clean the refrigerator. On the other hand, if you have plenty of time and energy, you can raise your chances of conceiving by 3% if you want to make a nightly date with your partner. Once you’re pregnant, you can claim nausea and let him clean the fridge.



Finding the Right Ovulation Predictor

If you thought it was tough to find your preferred brand of condom while pretending to be looking at something else, wait ‘til you start shopping for ovulation predictor kits. There are lots of them, they all look nice, and they basically all do the same thing.

The idea behind the ovulation kit is simple: one to one-and-a-half days before ovulation, your body levels of luteinizing hormone significantly increase. Luteinizing hormone rises, causing the release of an egg from the ovary.

The clear winner in the ovulation kit wars is the ClearPlan Easy. Because it is easy; easy to use, easy to read, easy to decipher, and it works. It takes five minutes—a lot less time than it takes to whiten your teeth—and it costs less than whitening too, at around $24.
Announcement from the Experts: Pregnancy Caused by Sex
In an astounding feat of research, the NIEHS study concluded that, the more often you have sex, the more likely you are to become pregnant. Apparently there was some question about it, perhaps among the members of the population who worry that a man who has frequent sex will diminish his sperm count until he only has, say, several hundred thousand or a couple of measly million available at any one time. The NIEHS confirmed that men can still manage to mobilize plenty of sperm for pregnancy.



Calculate Ovulation with Your Calendar

One low-tech but effective way to get pregnant is to have sex every other day from the 10th to the 18th day of your cycle. Start counting by making the first day of your period Day 1, and days 10-18 should overlap the days when you are ovulating. On the days when you don’t make love, the sperm’s five-day lifespan will ensure a fresh supply of viable sperm.

If your cycles aren’t 28 days long, or if they are very irregular, the 10-18 day plan may not work, because you may be ovulating at other times.

You can start your pregnancy planning by marking your calendar each month with the dates of your periods, then calculate the length of your menstrual cycles. If they tend to be of similar length but aren’t 28 days long, you may want to adjust your sex life so that your sex-every-other-day overlaps the middle of your cycle by 4 days on either side. So, if your cycle tends to be 32 days in length, the midpoint will be Day 16, and you will want to start your lovemaking on day 12 and stop it on day 20.
It isn’t unusual for pregnancy to take several months, but people these days are often in a hurry. If you’ve already started taking folic acid, have made sure you’re in excellent pre-pregnancy health and are ready to blossom into motherhood, delays may feel downright unacceptable. Take heart: there are more scientific ways of getting pregnant:

If you have tried the sex-every-other-day method for three of four months and haven’t gotten pregnant, you may want to get more scientific about it. Fertility monitors or ovulation predictors take the guesswork out of the question, “When am I fertile?” and help you decide whether to attend that late meeting or skip it and get home. Measuring the levels of hormones in your body gives a reading that can tell you when ovulation is approaching, often giving you 24-36 hours advance warning. Some kits measure hormone levels by the old pregnancy-test standard of the “pee stick” (or, more nicely, the “stick tester”. The women holds the monitor in the urine stream, and a readout on the stick shows whether or not she is fertile. These kits are quite reliable and easy to use. They eliminate guesswork! If you’re the kind of person who follows cookbook recipes to the letter, you may want to use fertility monitor kits in planning your pregnancy.



How's Your Fertility

Without ovulation, it is impossible to get pregnant, because the eggs stay tucked away in the ovary and can never meet up with an amorous sperm.

Without viable sperm, the whole baby thing will never get off the ground, so if you know when you’re fertile and ovulating and you’re making love at those times but aren’t getting any babies out of the deal, you may want to drive your sweetheart over to the urologist for a sperm count. Like women, men’s fertility can be affected by stress, fatigue, excessive heat, drugs and illness.
Start Your Engines!

The NIEHS study found that, if intercourse occurs up to two days before or on the day of ovulation, the likelihood of pregnancy is 36%. Having sex between four and six days before ovulation lowers the statistical chance of getting pregnant to 10%. Sperm cells can live up to five days, but it less likely that old sperm will successfully fertilize the egg.



Ovulation Cycle and Pregnancy

Ovulation is the term for the time when one of your ovaries ejects an egg, which lingers invitingly in the dark corners of your womb, smiling and beckoning at passing sperm.

In fact, some years ago, a medical researcher made headlines when she discovered (upon close scrutiny), that the usual understanding of how pregnancy occurred was (pardon the pun), a misconception. Male medical researchers had consistently described fertilization in the way men have always described sexual encounters.

The sperm, his smokes rolled up in his T-shirt sleeve that stretches taut over a rippling bicep, swims valiantly upstream. He knows not why.
Muscling aside the weaker sperms, the slackers and the old sperms, our hero encounters the egg, who’s just lying there, thinking of England. The sperm penetrates the egg and presto, fertilization occurs!

But when a female medical researcher got her hands on the scanning electron microscope, she found something else going on right under everyone’s noses, presumably since the dawn of human evolution. The egg, far from being a passive participant in fertilization, actually sends out trailing strands of amino acids that act like fishing lures. When a strand encounters a passing sperm, it catches and reels him in. All unawares, then suddenly hooked, the sperm’s little head penetrates the crafty egg, who planned the whole thing all along.

Ovulation occurs halfway through the cycle—sometime around the fourteenth day of the standardizes 28-day menstrual cycle (which, by the way, may be standard but is by no means true for most women, so if you aren’t planning to get pregnant right away, don’t try to calculate your infertile days from this article!)The reason ovulation predictors are so popular for pregnancy planning is that knowing your dates of ovulation really puts you in the driver’s seat in terms of getting pregnant. Once you know the date, you can light the candles, call your honey and get to work.


Your Fertility Cycle - A Time to Embrace

Thanks to medical science, we know more about fertility cycles than ever before. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducted a study that showed that women’s cycle of fertility is six days long: the five days before ovulation and ovulation day itself.

Planning your pregnancy means making sure sperm is available when your egg is ready for fertilization during your monthly cycle.



Awful Facts About Smoking and Pregnancy

Women who smoke have a significantly smaller chance of conceiving a child, and smokers are more likely to suffer miscarriages. Men who smoke tend to have lower sperm counts; one study concluded that half a pack a day can lower the sperm count by 20%.

Babies of smokers tend to have lower birth weights and a higher chance of being born prematurely, which results in increased health risks. Furthermore, children of smokers suffer from the effects of secondhand smoke; effects that may include asthma, bronchitis and cancer. Do I have to tell you to quit smoking forever before getting pregnant?



Fertility & Pregnancy Myths You shouldn’t exercise much

Actually, one of the worst things you can do to your body is to stop exercising before or during pregnancy. Starting a pregnancy with low energy and too much weight will put you in line for joint problems, hemorrhoids, the sodden feeling we all get when we don’t have enough activity and a tough weight loss challenge once the baby is born.

It is true that some kinds of exercise are not safe for pregnant women: squatting and abdominal exercises in particular should be avoided.

But your trainer or aerobics coach will tell you what you shouldn’t do, and other than that, plenty of regular physical activity will keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy. If you’re not much of an exerciser anyway, you may want to start exercising some months before getting pregnant just to help yourself weather the strain on the back and to keep your energy levels higher.
Too much exercise would be something that a few athletes, ballet dancers or eating-disordered women do to keep their weight well down before normal levels. If you exercise so much that your periods are irregular or have gone completely missing, you probably won’t be able to get pregnant anyway because your body will have temporarily shut down its ovulation schedule. In this case, you should check in with your doctor to plan an exercise schedule that is moderate and a diet that will help your baby grow strong and healthy once you have conceived.

Men’s underwear can prevent pregnancy.
Only if you sew him into it! There have been studies that showed that men who wore briefs had lower sperm counts than men who wore boxers. Millions of “briefs” men switched to boxers in order to do their part in making a baby, enduring the discomfort of having everything suddenly loose around their legs until their partners passed the pregnancy test. There are also studies that have shown no statistical difference in the fertility of men due to their underwear. The scientific opinion seems at this point to be that it doesn’t much matter what a man does with his underwear as long as he takes them off every once in awhile. That’s pretty much key in babymaking.

Men should postponed sex to “store up” sperm.
Naah. Unless a man has a definite problem with low sperm count, he has plenty and I mean PLENTY of sperm to get the job done, each and every time.

Women can’t get pregnant during menstruation.
While technically this is true, let’s discuss the exception that makes hundreds of women into mothers each year. While during your period you can’t get pregnant because you are not ovulating, you can have sex during your period, the sperm can hang around for a sperm lifespan of five days, and if you ovulate a little early while that sperm is still enjoying his post-coital cigarette, hey! Presto! And you’re pregnant. The chances are slim, though, and if you’re trying to get pregnant, sex during your period probably won’t be much help on the path to parenthood.



Introduction to Getting Pregnant & Conception

As much time as most women spend trying to keep from getting pregnant throughout their lives, it sometimes seems that for any woman who is sexually active, pregnancy is the default condition.

Pregnancy sneaks up on millions of women every month: pregnancy has been known to occur during one’s period, while still nursing an infant, when a partner has had a vasectomy, and when women are on the Pill. Hormones, sponges, creams, foams and various latex and non-latex products have been pressed into use by women who aren’t at a stage in life where they want children. It’s only when we start wanting to have children that we learn that pregnancy sometimes takes as much planning as childlessness did before.

It may be that the hectic nature of daily life has changed considerably from the time when, eons ago, all you needed was enough to eat and enough shelter to keep alive.

In fact, the nature of nature is to make us as fertile as possible under a wide variety of circumstances. But our bodies are still trying to adapt to the environment we’ve built, where things like jet lag, hot tubs and plain old fatigue can affect whether we can become pregnant. The human body, while amazingly adaptable, is only willing to go so far: getting pregnant is often a matter of helping things along by working in a planful way to bring ovulation, active sperm, and a welcoming environment conducive to implantation together at the same time.