Timing is critical when trying to conceive. Try these tried-and-true tips to nail down your ovulation window and boost your chances.
Understanding Your Monthly Cycle
The first phase starts with the first day of your period. Your body releases hormones that stimulate eggs to grow within follicles in your ovaries. Between day 7 and 11, these hormones also help thicken the lining of your uterus to get ready for the implantation of a fertilized egg.
What Happens During Ovulation
Most women have a cycle of between 26 and 30 days long. On average, if ovulation happens, it does so between 11 and 21 days after your last period, although it can be different for every woman. A brain hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) surges, triggering the release of the egg that’s most ripe. At the same time, your cervical mucus changes to a slippery, egg-white consistency, to help sperm to make their way to the egg.
It’s All About Timing
Women are born with about 1 million eggs – and they cannot make anymore – but only 300 to 400 will be released through ovulation. Usually just one egg is released each month. The egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus, where it’s ready to be fertilized. The egg only lives about 12 to 24 hours. Sperm can live for about 3 to 5 days, so knowing you’re due to ovulate soon can help you and your partner plan sex for when you’re most likely to conceive.
Tracking Your Most Fertile Days
Generally, most women are fertile during the days just before and during ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having sex every other day around that day – say days 12, 14, and 16 (having sex every day may decrease a man’s sperm count). Your cycle may be longer or shorter, so using an online ovulation calculator may help identify the likely day.
Tracking Ovulation by Temperature
After an egg is released, what’s left of the follicle – the corpus luteum – releases the hormone progesterone to help thicken the lining of the uterus and maintain a pregnancy. Progesterone causes your body temperature to go up slightly. Taking your temperature every morning with a basal thermometer (about US$ 10.00) before getting out of bed is one way to track ovulation. It’s inexpensive, but not accurate as other methods.
Tracking Ovulation by Hormone
A surge in LH is what triggers the egg to be released from your ovaries. Using ovulation kits (from US $20 to $50) to check LH levels in your urine can help you pinpoint the day of ovulation. Some kits allow you to test daily to determine when you are ovulating. These kits are more expensive than basal thermometers but may be more convenient and are 99% accurate.
The Last Phase of Your Monthly Cycle
The lining of your uterus thickens to get ready for a fertilized egg to implant. If the egg isn’t fertilized, it disintegrates and about 12 to 16 days later, it – along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus – is shed. That process, which usually lasts 3 to 7 days, is menstruation. Then the cycle begins again.
Foods That Boost Ovulation
Choose monosaturated fats (like olive oil) over trans fats (those in fast food and baked goods); vegetable protein (soy) over red meat; and high-fiber, low-glycemic foods – whole grains, veggies, and some fruits – over refined carbs and sugars. Ice cream lovers take note: A moderate amount of high-fat dairy products (ice cream, whole milk, and cheese) may help increase female fertility.
Weight Affects Fertility
Being overweight or underweight can make it harder to get pregnant. Those with body mass index (BMI) above normal take twice as long to get pregnant as those with a normal BMI, according to one study. In men, those who are obese are more likely to have low testosterone. One researcher found that a 20-pound weight gain can boost infertility chances by 10%.
Age Affects Your Conception Chances
A woman’s decline in fertility starts at around age 30. Experts say a woman should talk to her doctor if she’s under 35 and has been trying to conceive for more than 12 months, or is over 35 and has been trying to conceive for more than 6 months. An FSH hormone test can evaluate you ovarian reserve, or egg supply, which is an indicator of your potential to get pregnant. The test may be available over-the-counter or from your obstetrician-gynecologist.
Fertility Declines in Older Men, Too
Studies indicate that sperm count and motility (movement) usually decreases as men age. One study found that it took men age 45 or above longer to achieve a pregnancy once the couple started trying to conceive. If your partner is older, you may want to talk to your doctor about ways to boost your chances of conception.
How Men Can Boost Fertility
Managing stress, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, maintaining a proper weight, and eating a diet high in zinc (found in meat, whole grains, seafood, and eggs), selenium (meat, seafood, mushroom, cereals) and Vitamin E can improve male fertility. So can keeping the testicles cool – no long hot baths or hot tubs, which can decrease the number of sperm.
Treatments for Infertility
A number of factors can cause infertility, so the first step is for your doctor to evaluate you and your partner. Infertility treatments can include taking fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation and in vitro fertilization, which involves removing eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them, and then implanting them back into the uterus.
How Home Pregnancy Tests Work
Home pregnancy tests check your urine for the “pregnancy hormone,” called hCG, that you body produces once a fertilized egg implants in your uterus. Usually a home pregnancy test can tell if you’re pregnant as early as 6 days before your first missed period. You can get a false negative if you test too early, so repeat the test a few days or a week later. Your doctor can provide more accurate results with a blood test.
5 Early Signs You’re Pregnant
• You miss a period
• You need to urinate frequently
• You tire easily
• Your nauseous in the morning – or all day
• Your breast become tender and enlarged
See you next week.
People of the north, Dr. Victor Emanuel will be in Portsmouth on Fridays from 8 am to 3 pm at Bayside Medical Center across from the police station.
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