For years, pregnancy has been considered a woman’s prerogative. The archetypal rules associated with a successful conception have long been tethered exclusively to a woman’s health and body.
“Eat greens”, “go easy on the coffee”, “avoid alcohol”, she was told. And while this advice still remains golden for any woman hoping to conceive, gearing up for pregnancy ought to be an equal effort by both partners. There are several factors to consider as you begin planning a family, including when to time intercourse, how to know when you’re ovulating and measures you and your partner can take to augment your chances of conception.
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Let’s take one at a time.
Factor 1. The Fertility Metre
In a typical scenario, assuming your fertility is optimal, you have about a 25% chance of conceiving in any given month if you have intercourse frequently. That said, regular intercourse isn’t always a surefire way to light up an egg inside you. There are several influences that may come in the way of conception.
Age, for one can have a huge impact on your fertility. Your fertile days are likely to dip after you cross 30, dwindling further as you enter your forties. Male fertility also declines with age, although this comes into effect much later than in women.
Frequency of Intercourse
You already know that regular intercourse increases the odds of conception. But successful conception is all about timing. Charting your menstrual cycles can go a long way in helping you determine when you’re most fertile. By timing intercourse around this time, you’re more likely to introduce sperm to an egg. Granted, ovulation isn’t a mechanical operation and there are bound to be oscillations in certain months. To ensure that you have all your bases covered, schedule intercourse two or three times a week through the month.
Inability to Conceive
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may notice that the double pink on the pregnancy test proves to be elusive. If you’re below 35, meet a doctor on Cloudnine if you have been trying to conceive for more than six months. If you’re over 35, the equivalent timeline for that is one year. If you are diagnosed with infertility, our specialised fertility specialists will thoughtfully tailor a fertility treatment for you, optimising your chances of conception.
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Factor 2. Regularity of Periods
Stress, anxiety and conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome can withhold the production of oestrogen in your body, in turn, deterring menstruation. And while foregoing monthly menstrual cramps may have seemed like a welcome relief a few years ago, it can make determining your ovulation window, a challenge. Typically, menstrual cycles that vary significantly in length between months can make it hard to identify your fertile period. In such a situation, there are various alternate measures you can seek to be certain of when you are ovulating.
An ovulation prediction kit or a thermometer to gauge basal body temperature may come in handy. Ideally, having intercourse during the 5-day lead up to ovulation is recommended for conception. Sperm can live in the female body for up to 5 days, so it’s best to have them waiting when an egg arrives. An egg, on the other hand, is viable for only up to 24 hours.
Factor 3. Birth Control Pills
If you’ve been consuming birth control pills in months or years prior, you may wonder how long it will take your body to flush out its effects. Technically, it is possible to conceive immediately after stopping these pills, although you may find that your ovulation cycle takes a few months to settle into a quiet rhythm. This is because it may take a while for the hormones released by these pills to be released entirely from your body. As far as healthy conception is concerned, there’s nothing to worry about at all. Studies suggest that women who conceive immediately after giving up birth control pills are just as likely to have a healthy baby as those who have waited a few months.
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Factor 4. Lifestyle
Your lifestyle is the only controllable influence that can play a role in the conception and also the only attribute that affects you and your partner equally. Making healthy food choices, avoiding excessive drinking and quitting smoking may seem like cliches, but they’re oh-so-relevant when it comes to conception. Unhealthy lifestyles can affect men and women; the former by lowering sperm count and the latter by wreaking havoc on hormonal composition.
As you weigh these factors in your mind and reflect on your own experiences, you may recognise concerns you may have overlooked before. Every couple has its own path to building a family. It’s alright if yours is a little longer; you’ll have more to look back on later. Every cloud has a silver lining. Find yours on Cloudnine.
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