Getting Pregnant: Introduction

If you are planning a pregnancy, probably a lot of questions arise in your mind. What are the odds? When to have sex? How often to have sex? How long will it take to get pregnant after going off the pill? Here, we will answer your questions.

What are the Odds of Getting Pregnant?

Women often wonder what are the odds for them to get pregnant during a particular month when they start trying. Generally, there is only a 25 per cent chance that a woman will get pregnant during any particular month, therefore, it may take 4 months or even longer for a couple to get naturally pregnant [1]. However, there are a number of factors that determine your chance of getting pregnant, including:

Age: Fertility declines with age, more rapidly so after 32 years of age. It is significantly reduced in 4 th decade of life

State of Health: The healthier a woman is, the more likely she is to conceive and carry a baby to full term [3]. It is recommended for a woman to start preparing for pregnancy at least 3 months before conception. For example, folic acid and iron supplements can be started even before the pregnancy occurs.

Regularity of Menstrual Cycle: Irregular menstrual cycles make it harder to calculate the day of ovulation and hence you may not know the ideal days to have sex to get pregnant.

Medical conditions: Any illness that affects your fertility may decrease the chance of getting pregnant.

Frequency of intercourse: The greater the number of times you have sex in a month, the greater your chances of getting pregnant.

Duration: If you are trying to get pregnant for a long period of times i-e 1-2 years, you should consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of fertility issues.

Other Factors: Smoking, obesity and drugs can affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle which ultimately affects fertility

Understanding your Menstrual Cycle

Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you a great deal for getting pregnant. By keeping a track of your menstrual cycle, you can determine the most fertile days and have more sex during those days. There are a number of apps available that can help you keep track of your cycle easily.

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Home ovulation tests can also be taken to determine the day of ovulation. In general, the first day of the cycle is when your period starts and the last day is the day before your next period. The number of days in the menstrual cycle varies from women to women. Cycles ranging between 21 to 35 days are considered normal. If your cycles are shorter or longer, you should consult your doctor.

Irregular cycles are also a matter of concern. If your cycle varies by a few days from one month to the next, you most likely have irregular cycles. Irregular cycles do not always equate to a problem but you can consult your doctor to rule out any problem.

How Often to Have Sex?

There is no upper limit, really. You should have sex as often as you can to improve your chances of getting pregnant. This is particularly important during the fertile window. For a woman, the number of fertile days in a month is very small. The studies have proven that the possibility of a sperm fertilizing an egg is limited to a few days i-e 3 to 5 days before the day of ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. It is best to have sex during these days especially 2 days before the day of ovulation. Medically, it is recommended to have sex every day during these days or starting after the end of periods because in many cases, it can be harder to exactly predict the fertile window.

Although the calculations and having sex on apparently fertile days is logical, there are yet some problems associated with it. Your body is not always predictable and your biological clocks may vary depending upon a number of factors. Even if your menstrual cycle is very regular, the day of ovulation can vary from one month to the other.

So, if you are thinking you are having sex on the day of ovulation, you might be wrong. The safest bet is to frequently have sex 2 weeks following your periods. Also, if the man has a normal sperm count, having sex every day further increases the chance of getting pregnant early after you start trying.

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How Long Will It Take After Going Off the Pill?

After you go off the pill, it may take a few months to get pregnant as the hormones from the pill may still be present in your system. As time passes, the hormones are metabolized and removed from the body and the natural biological clock is restored. However, it is not impossible to get pregnant soon after going off the pill. But it usually takes a few months for ovulation to normally start again as the body takes time to readjust. You must be wondering whether it is safe to get pregnant right after going off the pill. The answer is yes. Women who get pregnant immediately after are just as likely to have a healthy baby as women who choose to wait a few months.

Facts About Fertility

Knowing more about fertility can be helpful for couples actively trying to get pregnant. here are a few lesser-known fertility facts.
● Your genetics play an important role in determining your fertility. Women are born with all the eggs that will mature later in life. The number of eggs at birth is determined by your genes. It is also believed that the number of eggs you are born with determines how long you will stay fertile during your life. Genetics also play a significant role in maintaining the health of your reproductive tract. Several genes play a role in follicle damage, repair and ageing [8].
● Regular menstrual cycles signify a healthy reproductive system. Regular ovulation is a sign of fertility.
● Monitoring basal body temperature during the cycle is frequently used as a marker of ovulation. However, this method is not useful because the body temperature rises only after ovulation has occurred. Egg lasts for only about 24 hours after ovulation so measuring temperature is not very useful. A more reliable and easy method is to use an over-the-counter urine ovulation test that can help you determine your day of ovulation.
● Stress is not associated with infertility, except for a few cases of extreme physical and mental stress, women keep ovulating.
● Fertility starts declining after 30 years of age, and it may be impossible to become pregnant at the age of 44 even if menopause has not yet set in and ovulation is occurring.
● Pelvic infection can cause infertility and many women are unaware of that. Many STIs can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which if left untreated, can lead to infertility. Most women with a fallopian tube blockage have had a pelvic disease in
the past.
● It is commonly believed that a good diet, or eating certain items can promote fertility. However, there is little scientific data available to support this stance.
● Having fathered a child in the past does not atomically mean that you are fertile at a specific point in time. Sperm count can change significantly over time. So a previous pregnancy does not guarantee you will be able to get your woman pregnant again. It is best to get yourself tested for sperm count.
● Healthy body weight within normal BMI enhances fertility. Being either underweight or overweight can reduce fertility.
● Sexually Transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are the most important avoidable cause of infertility in men. It is important to get yourself regularly tested for STIs.
● Just as for women, male fertility also decreases with age. However, far more slowly compared to women. It occurs because, with ageing, the sperm count decreases. Sperm quality significantly declines after 40 years of age.
● Smoking adversely affects the quantity and quality of the sperm. A damaged egg cannot penetrate the egg; thus fertilization does not occur. Drugs like marijuana and cocaine also affect sperm quality and erectile function.
● Studies have shown that like older women, older men are more likely to father children with genetic defects.

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