Top Questions When Trying to Get Pregnant

Happy, smiling couple holding pregnancy test; advice on trying to get pregnant

Trying to get pregnant brings excitement and a mix of emotions, especially if it doesn’t happen as fast as you’d like. You’re ready to start a family, and while you have a general idea of how to make that happen, you might still want expert advice. Katie Kreamer, ARNP, UnityPoint Health, answers your most common questions for conceiving.

What to do When Trying to Get Pregnant?

A great way to think about it is as soon as you stop taking birth control or using other contraceptive methods, you should start behaving as if you’re pregnant. Kreamer suggests:

  • Waiting two full menstrual cycles before attempting conception to reestablish a normal cycle
  • Taking a daily prenatal vitamin
  • Talking with your provider on any current prescription medications you’re taking, plus any pre-existing health conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Avoiding use of drugs, alcohol and smoking
  • Manage your BMI
  • Refraining from traveling to countries with Zika virus

When is the Best Time to Try and Get Pregnant?

In a normal ovulatory cycle of 28-32 days, ovulation typically occurs between days 12-15. We recommend regular sexual intercourse during days 10-17.

How Often to Have Sex When Trying to Get Pregnant?

Kreamer says regular sex two to three times per week after your menstrual period typically guarantees you’ll hit the fertile period with best semen quality. Recent sources suggest optimal semen quality is when there’s two to three days of abstinence between sex. Longer periods of abstinence have lower pregnancy rates. The highest pregnancy rates usually occur in couples who have sex every one-two days.

“A couple myths about trying to get pregnant include positions during sex and female orgasm,” Kreamer says. “Using one position over another, as well as not having female orgasm, haven’t shown to play a role in fertility.”

What is an Ovulation Predictor Kit?

An ovulation predictor kit (also called a fertility monitor) is an over-the-counter test for a woman to use to help her determine when she is ideally fertile and a good time for sex.

How to Use an Ovulation Kit?

When trying to understand how an ovulation kit works, it’s helpful to know that it works much like a home pregnancy test. It measures the hormone levels in urine just before ovulation occurs, indicating the hormonal surge before ovulation. When the stick changes (double line or smiley face), it’s a good time to have intercourse.

“Ovulation predictor kits can be very helpful in identifying the ovulation window, but they can get expensive if couples rely on them. I encourage couples to try to get pregnant without getting overly concerned with exact timing before jumping into using them right away,” Kreamer says.

She also says a helpful, free way for how to tell if you’re ovulating is to monitor the consistency of cervical mucous during the ovulatory period. Ovulation usually occurs when the mucous appears clear and stretchy, like egg whites.

How Soon Can You Take Pregnancy Test?

If a woman hasn’t started her period by day 35, she should take a home pregnancy test. If she takes the test sooner, she may have a false negative. Most pregnancy tests, however, have certain measures to make sure a false positive doesn’t happen, assuming they’re taken at the appropriate time.

“I know it is difficult to wait, but the accuracy of the test is higher as HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) rises daily in early pregnancy,” Kreamer says.

How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant?

While some couples hear of others getting pregnant on the first try, most pregnancies occur within the first six cycles of attempted conception. Anywhere between 1 and 12 months is considered a normal amount of time to get pregnant.

“When you get a positive pregnancy test, call your provider’s office to schedule an ultrasound and work-up within the first trimester (12 weeks). It’s important to know the first date of your last menstrual period for accuracy of dating,” Kreamer says.

When is it Time to Get Help Getting Pregnant?

If you’re under the age of 35 and you’ve actively been trying to conceive with regular monthly cycles for a full year without success, or if you’re over the age of 35 and have been trying for 6 months. Another reason to see your provider is if you’re having irregular menstrual cycles.

“It’s not uncommon to get frustrated with the process or start to worry about fertility when trying to get pregnant. You can always see your doctor for a conception discussion if/when you’re worried,” Kreamer says.

If a Couple Can’t Get Pregnant, What Options Exist?

Kreamer says the first step is doing preliminary tests for both female and male partners to determine what may be inhibiting or preventing a pregnancy. If the patient is a candidate, we can use medication to assist with ovulation if needed or refer the patient to a fertility specialist at any time in the process.

“I encourage couples to enjoy the process of planning and trying to get pregnant and start a family. Many couples get very anxious about controlling when things happen, and oftentimes, that can interfere with the enjoyment and spontaneity of things. It’s an exciting time for couples, and relaxing and not overthinking things can lead to a more gratifying experience overall,” Kreamer says.

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