When you’re finally ready to start a family, you’re ready to start, like, yesterday. So it can be incredibly frustrating when the pregnancy test continues to read “negative” when all you want is to be proof positive pregnant.
What can you do to help that process along? Get educated on the ins and outs of getting pregnant so you can give yourself the best possible chance each month.
Here are some of the basics:
1. Determine the length of your monthly cycle
Contrary to popular belief, women don’t all ovulate on the 14th day of a 28-day monthly cycle. It’s not even a guarantee that you have a 28-day cycle. You ovulate during your ‘fertile window.’
We’re talking about the days in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. Pregnancy is technically only possible during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle, and reflect the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours). – yourfertility.org
The first step in determining your fertile window is to determine the length of your monthly cycle. Granted, this will not be exactly the same each month, but it will give you an idea of when you might ovulate.
2. Determine when you ovulate
Figuring out the length of your cycle is only half the battle. That’s because many women don’t ovulate on a typical schedule – some ovulate earlier in the month while others ovulate later.
A friend of mine, for example, was trying to conceive by the have-sex-every-other-day-during-the-second-week-of-the-month plan. Once she started charting, however, she found out she was an early ovulator – her fertile window was actually the first week of her cycle, not the second.
As soon as she and her husband switched up timing to accommodate, she got pregnant right away.
Charting is a method of recording your basal body temperature to determine exactly when you ovulate. All you do is take your temperature each morning before you get out of bed to record your basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature will be lower before ovulation and then spike afterward.
The one problem with that method when you’re trying to conceive is that it doesn’t tell you when you’re about to ovulate, it only tells you after the fact. So, to make charting work for you in your conception efforts, you can also monitor your fertility signs. One great tool for doing so is Fertility Friend.
- Cervical mucus: Just prior to ovulation, cervical mucus will be an egg white consistency. The biological reason for this is because it is conducive for sperm mobility.
- Cervical position: If you are comfortable checking your own cervix, you can do so at the same time each day to determine how open it is and how high it is.
- Ovulation predictor kit: Not really a fertility sign, but you can purchase these kits that you use like a pregnancy test. You test your urine for the luteinizing hormone, or LH, which is the last of the hormones to hit its peak before ovulation actually occurs. You will have a 24–48 hour window once you get a positive OPK.
3. Have lots of sex
Obvious, right? It is, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Once you get into the mechanics of trying to conceive, having sex can be far more of a chore than a pleasurable activity. The more sex you have, the more likely you are to get pregnant, but the every-other-day recommendation can become difficult.
Think about it. You get home from work and you’ve had a tough day. You’re exhausted. Then you realize you may be ovulating. You need to have sex, but it’s the last thing you want to do. Aside from your exhaustion, your partner isn’t exactly turned on by the approach of, “Hey, we have to have sex because I’m ovulating.”
The longer you’ve been trying, the more frequent those interactions.
4. Get help when you need it
Some couples struggle to conceive, which becomes increasingly difficult to endure with each passing month. Despite good intentions, comments of “just relax” or “when you least expect it, it will happen” are far from helpful.
Pregnancy can be difficult for some couples and, when you think about it, is a phenomenon that takes place under very precise conditions. That being said, there are legitimate hurdles some couples have to go through.
Depending on the doctor, your obstetrician will tell you to come in if you haven’t conceived in 8–12 months. At that point, they will run tests and come up with a plan of action.