Trying to conceive? 4 ways to improve your chances

July 05, 2018 | by Diana Calero, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

You and your partner are ready to start trying for a baby. Getting pregnant may not be as easy as you think.

To improve your chances of conceiving, it helps to know the days when you are most fertile. This is the time when you should have lots of sex — ideally every day or every other day.

In a normal menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs when an ovary releases an egg. The egg then moves into the fallopian tube. An egg can survive in the fallopian tube for about one day after ovulation, and a man’s sperm can survive inside a women’s body for about three days after sex.

Your chance of pregnancy is highest when live sperm are in the fallopian tubes when ovulation occurs —or when an egg is there too. This means you can become pregnant if you have sex anywhere from 5 days before ovulation until 1 day after ovulation. If no sperm is around to fertilize the egg, it moves through the uterus and disintegrates.

How do you know when you ovulate so you can give yourself the best chance to conceive?

A menstrual cycle is defined from the first day of menstrual bleeding to the first day of menstrual bleeding of the next cycle. In an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation occurs about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period.

There are ovulation predictor kits and fertility monitors you can buy to help you track when you are ovulating. There are also fertility apps and web sites (e.g., with ovulation calculators) to help you record information about your menstrual cycle and calculate your fertile periods.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) lists four fertility awareness-based methods you can use to improve your chances of getting pregnant:

  1. Standard Days method: This method follows a standard rule of what days during the menstrual cycle are the most fertile. This works best if your cycles are regular. If your cycle is between 26-32 days long, days 8-19 would be considered the most fertile days. To promote pregnancy, try to have intercourse between day 8 and day 19, either every day or every other day.
  2. Cervical mucous method: This method involves recognizing changes in the mucus produced by the cervix (or discharge). Just before ovulation, the amount of mucus noticeably increases, and becomes thin and slippery. When you first notice this type of mucus, you are most likely fertile. You should have intercourse every day, or every other day. Similarly, with the TwoDay method, you check your cervical mucus at least twice a day. Once you have two dry days in a row, pregnancy is less likely. Be aware that things like medications and feminine hygiene products can change how the cervical mucus appears.
  3. Basal body temperature (BBT) method: With this method, you monitor your BBT, or your body’s temperature when you are fully at rest, by taking your temperature every morning immediately after waking up. Most women’s temperature increases slightly during ovulation (0.5-1°F), with the most fertile days being the 2-3 days before this increase in temperature. This method shows only when ovulation has already occurred, but it can help you look for patterns.
  4. Symptothermal method: This is a combination of methods. The two most commonly used are the BBT method and the cervical mucus method. Other methods can be used, such as the Standard Days method, as a double check to identify when the fertile time begins and ends.

Remember, it can take normal, healthy couples 12 months to become pregnant, even if you have had intercourse during your most fertile time. If you have been trying to get pregnant for several months without success, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about preparing for pregnancy.

Explore pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Related blogs:

7 steps to take before you start trying for a baby

Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to get your folic acid

Fit mamas benefit during pregnancy and after

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