Conception – getting pregnant

Finding out about your fertility will increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Advice from The Family Planning Association

The expectation is that just as you plan not to have a family, so you can plan to start a family. For some couples that expectation comes true. After six months of trying, six out of ten couples will have conceived a baby. For the other four, it takes longer.

The process can be frustrating and stressful but many GP's prefer you to try for a year before they consider referring you for fertility tests and treatment.

To make the most of your chances, be aware of your body changes month by month.

Finding your fertile time

Getting to know your menstrual cycle

Most women ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) about two weeks before their period. If your cycle is regular, count back 12-16 days from the day your period normally starts and this will give you a rough idea of when you are fertile.

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Cervical mucus changes

During the menstrual cycle a woman’s vaginal secretions change. At the beginning and end of your cycle the fluid is white or yellowy, sticky and thick. As your body prepares for ovulation the amount of mucus increases and becomes thinner and clearer. Immediately before ovulation it becomes very thin, slippery and stretchy, like raw egg white.

Temperature

The temperature of your body at rest (basal body temperature) drops slightly immediately before ovulation. It rises to a higher level when ovulation has taken place. You need to take your temperature around the same time every day ideally after at least five hours’ sleep, before getting out of bed or having anything to eat or drink. Find out more about taking your BBT

Ovulation predictor kit

These test kits identify LH (Lutenising Hormone) when it's present in your urine. This hormone increases as ovulation approaches and the test will tell you that ovulation is likely to happen in the next 24-36 hours. They don't predict the precise moment of ovulation. If you go to the iVillage Pregnancy Calendar you can enter the date of your last menstrual period and find out when ovulation is likely to take place.

Even if you keep track of your body’s changes it may still take a while to get pregnant. If you have just stopped taking the Pill, ovulation may be delayed or irregular for a while. Air travel, a change of job, illness, sudden weight loss or strenuous exercise can also affect the time you ovulate. Even if you have sex when you ovulate you may not become pregnant immediately. Sometimes fertilisation takes place but the egg does not implant.

There is a short time each month when you are likely to conceive. An egg lives for about a day and sperm survive for up to seven days. Having sex two or three times a week would include ‘the fertile time’. If you don’t get pregnant at once you are not unusual and it doesn’t mean that you have a problem. However, after several months of trying you may feel you want to see your GP.

Natural family planning methods will help you understand your fertility better.

For more information visit: Marie Stopes here

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