Getting pregnant is not rocket science. It is a matter of having sex at the right time with the right quality of sperm and egg. People have been figuring this out for years without instruction manuals. There are several steps however, that can improve your success.
Step 1: Female Preparation
Prior to getting pregnant, your chances of conception will be improved by some preparation.
-Stop taking contraceptive pills/shots. It may take several months for your body to return to normal menses after stopping medication
-Take pre natal vitamins. Neural tube defects develop early in pregnancy. Start taking prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant.
-Stop smoking. Smoking can impact fertility, and it can cause fetal health problems.
-Moderation in diet and exercise. Obesity can impact fertility. Low weight and extreme exercise can impact fertility as well. Make sure you follow a healthy lifestyle with good foods and exercise, but don't go to extremes either way.
-Sleep- Leptin levels can impact fertility. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep each night. You will have plenty of time to stay up late once the baby is born.
Step 2: Male Preparation
-Ditch the tighty whiteys. Sperm quality improves when the testicle sac is kept a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body.
- Do not use hot tubs. Hot tubs can impact sperm health.
-Moderation in diet and exercise. Eat well, exercise and take your vitamins. You have been paying attention to the notes for your partner haven't you? This applies to you as well as lifestyle can impact sperm quality. If you don't like vegetables, remember that it will make it easier for your partner to keep on her diet if you follow yours.
-Stop smoking. Smoking can impact sperm quality
Step 3: Partner Preparation
-Have fun and relax. Stress can make this process laborious and impact fertility as well. Don't turn conception into a job.
-Know your geography. It sounds simple, but you cannot get pregnant from oral or anal sex. Make sure to use vaginal intercourse methods when having sex during fertile periods.
Step 4: Timing
The next important step in conception is timing. The average egg lives for only 24 hours. Sperm can remain alive after ejaculation for up to 72 hrs. This leaves a window of about 4 days fertility, with best results occurring 24-48 hrs prior to ovulation (ovulation is the release of the fertile egg from the ovary). Learning to predict the period you are fertile will assist in successful conception. Here are a few tools used to assist in prediction:
Step 5: Calender Method
The most inaccurate method used to predict ovulation. The 14th day after the beginning of menses of a 28 day cycle is statistically the day most women ovulate. This however does not cover the massive variation in female ovulation. Many women have different cycle times, and therefore different ovulation times. Stress, hormones, illness, exercise and other factors can also impact the actual day of ovulation.
Step 6: Basal Body Temperature
You can keep track of your body temperature each morning as you wake up. A basal thermometer can be purchased at any drug store. These temperatures can be taken orally or vaginally, but it is important to be consistent in method and time. After ovulation, there will be a rise in body temperature of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius). Charting Basal Body Temperature is only useful historically, as the temperature raise does not occur until after ovulation. This will give you a rough idea of when you usually ovulate. Sites like fertilityfriend.com are useful in tracking historic fertility
Step 7: Cervical Mucus/ Positioning
As a woman approaches ovulation, the cervix becomes soft and mushy, and rises and opens in response to the high levels of estrogen present at ovulation. The cervical mucus will also change texture. Immediately after menstruation, most women have several days of no mucus or dryness. It then usually becomes cloudy and tacky, And changes to clear and slippery just before ovulation. This fertile mucus is called egg white mucus, and will stretch between your fingers like egg whites.
There are a few ways to monitor your cervical mucus:
-wipe the vaginal opening with toilet tissue before urination
-observe the discharge on underpants
-Obtain some of the mucus by placing your fingers in the vagina.
To check cervical position:
-Find a position that is comfortable, and use the same position each time.
-Move your finger within the vaginal cavity until you hit your cervix. It should feel like a rounded cylinder shaped mass within your body.
-During the beginning of your cycle, and after ovulation, your cervix is in a low position. It rises to the higher position just before and during ovulation.
-Your cervix is high when you can barely reach it with your finger tips
Step 8: Saliva Ovulation Tests
When a woman is about to ovulate, her saliva begins to form a fern-like pattern due to an increase in the level of salt and estrogen. This visible ferning pattern begins to appear around 3 to 4 days prior to ovulation. You can purchase an ovulation microscope, and use a sample of your saliva each morning to predict ovulation. Ovulite is one manufacturer of these devices.
Step 9: Chloride-ion Level Tests
Chloride-ion levels surge within a 4 day period of ovulation. A tool called an Ov-watch can be used to track these chloride levels. You wear the watch each night before you sleep for monitoring of your skin chloride level changes.
Step 10: Lutenizing Hormone Tests
Lutenizing Hormone helps regular the menstrual cycle and ovulation. LH levels will surge prior to ovulation. The surge causes ovulation (the release of the egg - from the ovarian follicle). There are multiple ovulation prediction kits that will detect this LH surge. The cheapest are the urine test strips. Clear Blue Easy produces a more accurate version.
Step 11: Practice, Practice, Practice
Even with perfect timing, conception rates are only about 20 percent. So if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. This is perhaps the best part of trying to conceive, lots of sex! It may take several months before conception. Make the most of it as you are unlikely to as much time for sex after the child is born.
If you and your partner have been trying for over a year, it may be a good time to visit a doctor. There are several fertility tests that can be performed to determine if there are any medical issues affecting conception. PCOS and other hormonal problems, structural problems, and sperm quality can all impact fertility, and can often be treated.