Many of us spend years trying to avoid pregnancy. But now the time has come to start a family, and you realize that this isn’t so easy after all. However, there are many simple “tricks” for couples that can help mitigate some of the stress surrounding the conception process.
- recognize when it is time to get help
- understand your fertility
- your research
- live your life
- seek support
- stress over position
- ignore your male partner
- believe sex is necessary every day
By definition, infertility is one year of unprotected intercourse without achieving a successful pregnancy. However, given the impact of female age on fertility, women who are over the age of 35 should seek an evaluation after 6 months of trying. Other “rule breakers” are younger women who don’t have regular menses, have a history of endometriosis, have received chemotherapy/radiotherapy or a family history of early menopause.
You are most fertile around the time of ovulation. Most women who have a 28-day menstrual cycle ovulate on or around day 14. But most women do not have 28-day cycles. Therefore, a useful trick is a menstrual calendar. Ovulation typically occurs two weeks before a period. So if you consistently have 35-day cycles, you are ovulating around day 21. Other helpful tools include ovulation predictor kits, basal body temperature charting and cervical mucous assessment.
While the internet can provide a wealth of helpful information and resources, it also can propagate misconceptions. Seek out reputable sites, such as ASRM, SART, AFA and ACOG. When in doubt, make an appointment to see a fertility specialist.
Just because you are trying to get pregnant, does not mean you need to stop enjoying life. Moderate alcohol, caffeine consumption and exercise are not only acceptable, but encouraged.
While infertility can be alienating, you are not alone. In fact, 15 percent of couples will experience infertility. Seeking the support of your friends and family, as well as other advocacy groups, is not only emotionally empowering, but also can offer solutions and explanations.
There is no need to lay flat on your back after intercourse. Studies show that within seconds, the sperm has reached the cervical mucous and is there to stay.
While declining fertility is routinely associated with advancing female age, in 40 percent of couples, there is also a component of male factor infertility. As a result, it is an excellent idea to bring your partner with you to the fertility evaluation. Known culprits of male factor infertility include excessive heat exposure, work-chemical exposure, catabolic steroid use, work-out aids and testosterone supplements.
Smoking has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse effects on fertility. Women who smoke tend to go through menopause 1 to 4 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts. Additionally, women who smoke take longer to achieve pregnancy, have higher miscarriage rates and have more complications in pregnancy. Secondhand smoke also can be detrimental.
The reality is that healthy sperm has longevity. Sperm can live for up to five days in the female pelvis. While there is no harm in having daily intercourse around the time of ovulation, it is certainly not necessary. Pregnancy rates are highest when intercourse occurs within 2 days prior to ovulation.
Trying to get pregnant can seem like a laborious and lengthy process. Educate yourself, know the facts and recognize when to get help. There are many available resources to help make this process less stressful, more successful and maybe even a little fun.