There is only so much we retain from middle school biology class when it comes to the human body and reproduction. And sex ed, at least when I went to high school, only discussed how NOT to get pregnant. So, here are a few quick tips for those ready to start trying to get pregnant.
How do I know when to have sex?
First of all, tracking cycles and timing intercourse may not be your cup of tea right now and that is okay! If you want to keep it casual, intercourse with your partner 2-3 times a week will increase your odds of getting pregnant. This will likely ensure the sperm is where it needs to be (fallopian tube) for fertilization when it needs to be there (ovulation).
For those ready to track their cycles, I recommend starting with a quick calculation. Generally speaking, the phase of a woman’s cycle following ovulation (called the luteal phase) is the most consistent phase of the menstrual cycle. For most women, the luteal phase is 14 days regardless of the length of your cycle. Whether your cycle is 20 days or 40 days, your luteal phase is probably 2 weeks long. Which means… ovulation occurs 2 weeks before your next period.
So, ask yourself the following:
- What is your cycle length? This means how many days are there between DAY 1 of your period (full flow period, spotting doesn’t count) to the next DAY 1?
- Is it regular (similar cycle length each month)? For regular cycles, we can predicate ovulation fairly accurately by subtracting 14 days from our cycle length.
Then, plan to have intercourse every 1-2 days during the “fertile window” defined as the 5 days prior to ovulation to optimize chances of pregnancy.
For women with regular cycles, this day should line up with your ovulation predictor kit results, if you choose to use one, and your physical signs and symptoms of ovulation, if you have them! Check out our tips on resources to track your cycle and signs of ovulation here. If you have irregular cycles, it can be harder to predict ovulation. If you’re having a tough time getting a positive reading on an ovulation predictor kit, we recommend discussing with your OB-GYN so they can investigate further and provide guidance.
When should I see a fertility specialist?
Now that you’re on your way to predicting ovulation and beginning the process of trying to conceive, you may wonder at what point it would be helpful to see a specialist. Consider seeking medical assistance if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are interested in freezing your eggs or embryos for future use
- If you are age 35 and over and have been trying to conceive for greater than 6 months
- If you are under age 35 and have been trying to conceive for 1 year
- If you have a suspicion of infertility you should see a specialist sooner:
- Abnormally painful periods
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- History of chemo or radiation
- History of a pelvic infection or surgery that could affect your fallopian tubes
- Ruptured appendix
- GYN condition
- Uterine surgery
- Known genetic diagnosis or known carrier of a genetic disease
- If things just feel “off”
- If your mother had trouble conceiving
Wishing you the best as you begin! Please reach out if you have any questions at all.