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How Do You Know If You Can Get Pregnant?

calendarAugust 23, 2016
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How do you get pregnantHow Do You Know If You Can Get Pregnant?

Ever wondered if you can get pregnant? Most women do, especially after the first two or three months of trying to conceive. The average couples need about 4-5 months to successfully conceive, but it can get you even more than that if you’re over 30-35 years of age. Before you conclude that there’s something wrong with you, make sure you’ve had sex at the right time of the month, and that you’ve followed a few essential rules to getting your partner’s little guys to unite with your precious egg.

We’ve asked our readers about their most common questions in regard to pregnancy, and here they are:

1. How Does Getting Pregnant Work?

Hello, I’ve got married last year, and my husband and I have decided that we’d like to have a baby. The problem is, I’m not sure how conceiving works. I know we have to have sex, but everything else is vague. Does it have to happen at a certain time of the month? For example, when I’m on my period? Should we stay in specific positions? Also, how do I know if there’s anything wrong with either of us? How long are we supposed to try conceiving before asking for medical advice? Thank you so much!

Expert Answers:

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about not knowing how babies are made. Many women don’t unless they have this discussion with a professional or someone else who knows more about this.

To get pregnant, one of your partner’s sperm cells needs to unite with your precious egg. Each month, about 15 to 20 eggs mature in your both ovaries, but only one of them grows completely mature. The eggs are housed in fluid-filled sacs (or pockets) that develop on your ovaries, known as follicles. It takes about 13 days for an egg to reach maturity. Around day 14-16 of your menstrual cycle, the follicle bursts and releases the egg. This can happen in either the right or left ovary.

The egg travels down the fallopian tubes, where it dies after 24 hours if it’s not fertilized. If a sperm cell unites with the egg within 24 hours after it’s been released, you get pregnant. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the egg disintegrates, and is expelled from your body along with the endometrium (soft tissue lining the uterus) during your next period.

Assuming that your egg has been fertilized, then it will continue to travel down the fallopian tubes to the uterus. It takes about 3-4 days for the egg to attach to the endometrium — this is called implantation.

If you want to get pregnant, you need to have sex around the time the egg is released. This is the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle, and happens about 12 to 14 days before your next scheduled period. Count 12-14 days back from the day your next period is due, and you’ll get the approximate time when the egg is released.

However, you’re fertile about one week before the egg is released. If you have sex about 5-6 days before ovulation, there’s a good chance you’ll get pregnant. That’s because sperm cells can survive up to one week in your system, so they may be viable at the time ovulation occurs, ready to fertilize the egg. But keep in mind that the more frequently you have sex, the lower your partner’s sperm count will be. You can wait until ovulation to have sex, or you can have sex every other day within 6-7 days before ovulation, find out how likely is it to get pregnant from precum.

A few signs of ovulation you can keep an eye on are:

  • increased vaginal discharge (resembles uncooked egg white);
  • spotting;
  • abdominal pain;
  • increased basal body temperature (usually by one degree);
  • breast tenderness.

The average couple needs around 4-5 months to conceive, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away. It may take some time before you get pregnant. However, if you’ve been trying for longer than 8-9 months and got no results, talk to your doctor and have a few tests done to ensure that both you and your partner can have babies. Additional tests may be needed to see if there is anything wrong with your reproductive system, and if there’s something in particular that prevents you from conceiving.

Find out more about this topic here: Can You Get Pregnant If You’re Not Ovulating?  

2. How Do You Feel When You First Get Pregnant?

How do you feel when you first get pregnantHow Do You Feel When You First Get Pregnant?

I’ve been sexually active for a few years already. My current boyfriend has been the one and only I’ve ever had sex with. However, recently I’ve got some weird feeling in my stomach. It doesn’t hurt or anything, it’s more like something important is about to happen. I sometimes find myself caressing my stomach! I’m worried I may be pregnant. We never use any kind of protection, so that’s very possible. Do you feel something when you get pregnant for the first time? I mean, something more than just common pregnancy symptoms?

Expert Answers:

Many women report “feeling pregnant,” so I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. However, the feeling itself can’t be really described, but can be anything from a genuine maternal feeling to some sort of inner affection. At this point, it’s difficult to say if you really get pregnant if you don’t take a pregnancy test to determine if this is the cause of your sensations.

You haven’t provided more specific information as to when you’ve last had sex with your partner, or what time of the menstrual cycle it was, so I can’t provide any more suggestions. If you had sex anywhere from 5—6 days before ovulation to around the time you ovulated, there’s a high possibility that you’re pregnant. Some women get pregnant while on their period if they have shorter menstrual cycles of 24-25 days, as they are likely ovulating just a few days after the bleeding stops, meaning they’re in their fertile window while on their period.

Wait and see if your period arrives on time. Note that, if you got pregnant, you might experience something known as implantation bleeding, which can happen around the time your period is supposed to start. However, implantation bleeding lasts for up to 1-2 days and is much lighter than your normal period. Even if you don’t get any kind of bleeding, take a pregnancy test to completely rule out the possibility of pregnancy.

3. How Do You Know If You Can’t Get Pregnant?

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for one year and a half already, but we weren’t successful. I got pregnant once, but I miscarried on week 3. This happened around nine months ago, and we’ve been trying to make a baby ever since. Do you think there’s anything wrong with me? I checked with my ob-gyn, and she says I shouldn’t worry because miscarriages are common, but don’t necessarily impact fertility. I’m concerned — what if I can’t get pregnant? Are there any signs of infertility?

Expert Answers:

I’d say one year and a half is quite a long time for conceiving. Most couples make a baby after about 4-5 months of trying. Although miscarriages are common, I think you should schedule an appointment with your ob-gyn and have some tests done to see if there is anything in particular that has caused yours, and that may be preventing you from conceiving. Uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, ovarian cysts and even endometriosis are all serious issues that should be addressed immediately.

These conditions can definitely hinder your baby—making efforts. However, one factor that plays an important role in conception is age. Women over 35-40 years of age can take a longer time to get pregnant since their supply of eggs is significantly reduced. If you’re younger than 34 years, then you definitely need to see a doctor and have the issue further investigated by a specialist.

It’s important to keep in mind that lifestyle factors may also interfere with fertility, for example:

  • drinking over 400mg of caffeine every day can raise difficulties when you try to get pregnant, and that’s why experts advise women to limit caffeine intake to a maximum of 200-250mg a day, or ditch their cup of Joe altogether;
  • smoking may also hinder your baby-making efforts, and it also increases the incidence of premature births and low birth weight babies;
  • overweight women will also encounter difficulties when trying to conceive. If you have any weight-related issues, talk to a dietitian and start leading a healthier lifestyle so you can successfully reach a healthy weight.

If your period comes regularly, then you probably ovulate regularly, so you should be able to get pregnant. Women with irregular periods often struggle to conceive since they can’t predict when they’re the most fertile. I suggest charting your body temperature every day for a few months, as ovulation usually causes it to increase by one degree. Ovulation kits are available at most pharmacy stores, and they are pretty accurate at saying if you’re ovulating.

Read also: Tips If You Need Help Getting Pregnant

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