5 Things You Should Know About Getting Pregnant
By Dr. Sherry Ross
Now that you’ve decided to get pregnant, there are some appropriate steps you can follow to prepare for this life changing event.
- Pre-Planning is key. Plan to meet with your healthcare provider 3-6 months ahead of time to see if you are physically and mentally ready to have a healthy pregnancy. A review of your medical history is important to ensure that you don’t have any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure that might have an adverse affect on you or your unborn child. During this visit your health care provider can also go over medications you might be taking that could be teratogenic or harmful to the embryo during the early stages of conception. Also, making sure that you are on a prenatal or multivitamin that contains at least 400mcg to 1mg of folic acid at least 3 months prior to conception is vital.
- It’s all in the timing. Understanding when is the right time during your menstrual cycle to conceive is essential. On average, women have a period every 28 days. Many women don’t have a perfect 28 day cycle and this can make it challenging to know when the egg is available for conception. Ovulation is the time when the egg is available to be fertilized over a 24 hour period. Typically ovulation occurs 14 days prior to getting your period. Some women notice an “egg white and slimy” discharge around the time of ovulation while others actually notice a twinge or slight pelvic discomfort. Since sperm lives for 72 hours knowing when ovulation occurs makes timed intercourse a straightforward process. The idea is to have the sperm waiting for the egg. For example, if you have determined that you ovulate on Day 15 (Day 1 being the first day of your period), then you can have timed intercourse on Day 14, 15 and 16. Having intercourse on these days ensures that the sperm and egg are interfacing with hopes of an embryo being formed. Additionally since the lifecycle of sperm is 72 hours, some experts suggest having intercourse on Day 10 and then abstaining until Day 14 based on the example. This way there is fresh sperm ready to find the egg in the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place.
- Patience is a virtue. Now that you understand the timing of ovulation realize that it may take on average 6 to 9 months to conceive. Depending on your age, you have a 15 to 25% chance of conceiving each month if you are having timed intercourse. If you are timing your intercourse over a 3-month period,50% of couples will conceive and if you are timing your intercourse over 6 months, 75% of couples will conceive. After 12 months of having timed intercourse approximately 90% of couples will have conceived. The incidence of infertility in the United States is roughly 10 to 12%.
- Who make up the 10 to 12%? Infertility affects around 10-12% of couples representing 6.7 to 7 million women and their partners in the United States. Women under 35 years old who have been trying for 12 months would be considered infertile and women over 35 years old who have been trying for 6 months would also be considered infertile. The female factor causing infertility represents around 30% of the cases. Typical causes are related to failure to ovulate, endometriosis and tubal disease. The male factor causing infertility represents 30% of the cases and is primarily due to abnormal sperm development and motility. Another 30% represents a combination of both female and male factors. The remaining 10 to 20% have no known explanation for the couple’s infertility.
- Getting a positive test! For the other 90% a positive outcome should occur if you are patient and follow the guidelines for timed intercourse. Once you miss a period and have a positive pregnancy test result, it is time to call your health care provider and get started on the miraculous journey called pregnancy.