The decision to begin a family is often reached after a couple has been together for an extended period of time, and has finally come to the conclusion that the time is now.
Many simply begin trying wholeheartedly by just having sex often and making sure that the woman’s menstrual cycle is regular. And while these are very definitely important steps, they are only a tiny portion of the things that you need to be aware of in order to accomplish your dream of becoming parents.
First of all, even couples who are trying to conceive, and have no real issues with their health or fertility, only have a 20% chance of success with each cycle. Now, this may sound frightening, but it is a fact, and one that you need to be aware of. After all, if you don’t become pregnant right away, that doesn’t mean you have a problem, it may just be taking some time. More than 80% of couples with no obstacles usually become pregnant within one year of trying.
KNOWING A WOMAN’S MOST FERTILE TIME
Next, is knowing exactly when your fertile time occurs. A woman’s fertile period will begin 5 days before ovulation and will end at approximately one day after, giving you only an approximate 6 days per month to try and conceive, making it vital to be completely aware of when you are ovulating. The main reason for this is because a man’s sperm, which has the ability to survive for 100 hours or more, have to be in the upper part of a woman’s fallopian tube when the egg finally emerges from the ovary. Therefore, it is much more likely that conception will happen if a couple has sex before ovulation occurs and not afterward. Detecting ovulation can be done in several ways. For example:
- An over-the-counter ovulation test kit
- Keep a menstrual calendar for several months before trying
- Keep a chart of your basal body temperature (just as you are about to ovulate your temp will be at its lowest all month long)
- Pay attention to your body, which may tell you that you are ovulating by a set of cramps or some slight, often called, middle pain
*Pay attention to the position of your cervix, because as ovulation nears the cervix will go from low, hard and closed, to slightly softer, a little bit open and will pull back up (check your cervix daily until you have a general idea of the position)
- A saliva test which will check estrogen levels of a woman as ovulation time approaches
- Keep an eye on your cervical mucus, as you will go from almost dry after your period, to a more gradual increase and then just before ovulation if you try to stretch it between the fingers, it will no longer break apart as it will the rest of the time, but stretch to several inches long and be slippery
Also, keep in mind that even a period that arrives every 28 days like clockwork, does not guarantee you the same day of ovulation each cycle. Having sex every other day, beginning on day 8 and continuing through day 19 (day 1 would be the first day of your menstrual cycle) is a good basis.
AGE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Another incredibly important subject that tends to have a fair amount of bearing on conceiving is age. What most women are unaware of when it comes to having children is that while waiting until the time is right for you to have a baby is, of course, a very important step, it may mean a more difficult road to actual conception. The reason for this is due to the fact that the 20s are the most fertile time period in a woman’s life. Once a woman hits around 30 years old, her fertility will begin to decline. And once she reaches the age of 35, it will drop much more steeply. This is because the system that is inside a woman’s body, and is responsible for releasing the eggs, starts breaking down, which makes ovulation less frequent and more difficult. Also, the number of healthy eggs decreases as well.
But don’t give up hope. Women between the ages of 30 and 39 do have an approximate 90% rate of success with getting pregnant. Although the time period seems to be closer to 2 years instead of one.
SOME ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS CAN INTERFERE WITH OVULATION
While it is true that taking some drugs during pregnancy is perfectly safe, there are others that are not so safe, and can actually prevent you from ovulating, which can keep you from becoming pregnant altogether.
Here are some drugs of different types that could have an effect on fertility, though this is only a partial list so checking with your doctor before trying to get pregnant is the absolute best choice. They include:
- Some steroids taken in high doses, such as prednisone and cortisone
- Aldomet or Largactil-antihypertensive drugs used to control blood pressure
- Many drugs that target the central nervous system specifically, such as seizure meds or tranquilizers
- Sometimes thyroid medications, but usually only if too little or too much of an amount is prescribed
- Antibiotics can sometimes, change the cervical mucus patterns which can make it more difficult to know when you are ovulating
- Street drugs (cocaine, heroin and ecstasy)
Not a great deal is known about how most drugs affect the male’s fertility, except for a few items. They include:
- The same steroids taken in high doses that can affect a woman’s ovulation, can also affect a man’s fertility (prednisone and cortisone)
- Street drugs (cocaine, heroin and ecstasy)
Though most people are unaware of it, heavy consumption of alcohol has an incredible effect on not only a women’s fertility but men’s as well. Drinking a total of more than 6 alcoholic beverages per day, can affect a woman’s ovulation and a man’s sperm production, due to an increase in the risks of hormonal imbalance. In addition, many couples who consume more than just 5 drinks per week can also take a much longer time to conceive.
The basic conclusion from both numerous studies and many, many doctors is simple, if you are trying to become pregnant, avoiding alcohol is the best option.
It has been said by many people that having sex in a certain position could improve your chances of conceiving. The truth is, there really isn’t. The reason for this is because sperm only have a few short minutes to swim into a woman’s cervical mucus and no position or propping of your hips onto a stack of pillows is going to make that happen any faster. Some doctors say that if you constantly have sex in an upright position, it may delay things, but there is no scientific evidence to prove this theory. Just being relaxed and enjoying one’s self during intercourse is more helpful than any position could ever be.
There are a number of different physical problems that can cause fertility issues in women. Some that you are aware of and some, that many times, come with no signs or symptoms at all, which keeps them from being discovered. A few of these things would include the following:
- Ovarian cysts
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Physical problems with the uterus
- Uterine fibroids
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Also health issues that can cause hormonal changes such as primary ovarian insufficiency and polycystic ovarian syndrome
Surprisingly, being either underweight or overweight can affect a woman’s fertility. The reasons are actually quite simple. If you do not consume enough fats and calories in your diet, you will become too thin and put yourself at great risk of not being able to ovulate normally. On the other hand, if you consume too many fats and calories, you will become too heavy, which can interfere with fertility and normal hormone function.
Although many people probably don’t want to hear it, smoking can actually have a large effect on a man or woman’s fertility. This is true of both non-assisted reproduction as well as in vitro fertilization. The chemicals that are in cigarettes, for example, nicotine, carbon monoxide and cyanide, can speed up the loss rate of eggs. Unfortunately, they simply cannot be regenerated or replaced once they have died off. With men, their quality of sperm can be decreased. This can involve things such as a lower sperm count, higher numbers of sperm that are abnormally shaped or motility. The more cigarettes that are smoked, the higher the chance of fertility problems. The infertility rates of smokers compared to that of non-smokers is almost doubled. This is true of both men and women. Second hand smoke has an effect on fertility also, so if you want to have a baby, quitting smoking and staying away from others who do, would be the best option to take, for both sexes.