TRYING TO GET PREGNANT: 14 FERTILITY MYTHS DEBUNKED

We live in the era of informatics. Knowledge is easily accessible to us: we can learn virtually anything by just googling it. But paradoxically too much information many times leads to misinformation.

When it comes to fertility issues, there is a lot of disinformation going around. Therefore, it is no surprising what a recent survey showed: knowledge regarding ovulation, fertility, and conception issues is limited among women, and many tend to believe certain myths and misconceptions.

These are 14 fertility myths most people believe, but that science has debunked:

MYTH #1.  Maternity wise, 40s is the new 30s

Our life expectancy is longer, and we tend to postpone maternity due to career or study purposes. From that aspect, the 40s can be easily regarded as the new 30s. Unfortunately, this is not true for our ovaries: by the age of 30, a healthy woman has about a 20% chance of conceiving each month, by the time she reaches 40 her odds drop to about 5%.

This is one of the most commonly believed misconceptions: unaware of the age-related fertility decline, many women start seeking  help to conceive in their 40s, when they may have already missed the opportunity to become parents. 

You should be aware that there is a biological clock, and it’s ticking! If for personal reasons you cannot have a child right now, you may freeze your eggs to use them in the future.

MYTH #2. Certain sex positions increase the chances of getting pregnant

You will find plenty of (mis)information on this topic! In general, it is said that the best positions for getting pregnant are the missionary position (the woman lying on her back, her partner on top) and the “doggy position” (rear vaginal penetration, with the woman on her hands and knees) because they provide the deepest penetration, allowing the man to ejaculate closer to the opening of the cervix. 

In fact, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that. This belief is largely based on a single study that looked at the position of the penis in relation to these two sex positions, but it didn’t address pregnancy chances at all.

Therefore, no position seems to be better when it comes to maximizing your chances of making a baby. Sperm can be found in the cervical canal just a few seconds after ejaculation, and within 5 minutes in the tube, regardless of the coital position.

MYTH #3. Lifting your legs in the air for 20 minutes after having sex will help you get pregnant

You have probably heard this one: “lie in bed with your feet in the air after having sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant”. In fact, this is not (totally) true. You may lay in bed for 10-15 minutes after intercourse, as by this time the sperm have largely reached the cervix, and many may even be inside the tube.

In fact, a new study challenged both beliefs: women having artificial insemination were split into two groups – one that rested on their back with their knees raised for 15 minutes after the procedure and one that got up immediately. It turned out that, after several courses of treatment, 32% of the immobile group fell pregnant, compared with 40% per cent in the active group.

Therefore, there is no need to put pillows under your bottom during intercourse to get an advantageous tilt, or to perform cycling motions with your feet in the air.

MYTH #4. If we have sex every day the sperm becomes too weak, reducing our chances of getting pregnant 

How often should we make love to boost our chances of pregnancy? You will find all sorts of advice on the web: every other day, 3 times a week, every single day! Which one is correct?

One thing is clear: abstinence intervals greater than 5 days impair the sperm number and quality. Nevertheless, there is not much difference whether men ejaculate every day or every other day. Most fertility specialists used to recommend intercourse every other day, as this would increase sperm quality, particularly in men with lower sperm counts (oligozoospermia). However, recent studies show exactly the opposite: oligozoospermic men had better semen quality with daily ejaculation!

Recent scientific evidence suggests that making love every day confers a slight advantage: the highest chances of pregnancy (37% per cycle) were associated with daily intercourse, although sex on alternate days had comparable pregnancy rates (33%). On the other hand, we should keep in mind that the “obligation” to have sex every day may induce unnecessary stress to the couple, resulting in lack of sexual desire, low self esteem, and ultimately reduced frequency of intercourse.

Therefore, reproductive efficiency is highest when you have sex every day or every other day. The optimal frequency, though, is best defined by each couple’s own preference.

MYTH # 5. We only have sex when I ovulate, on day 14 of my cycle

Ovulation (when the egg drops from the ovary into the tubes) occurs once a month, usually between day 11 and day 21 of the cycle (measured from the first day of your period).

Each woman ovulates on her own schedule. While it is usually said that a woman with a 28-day cycle ovulates on cycle day 14, that’s not necessarily true: a study found that fewer than 10 percent of women with regular, 28-day cycles were ovulating on day 14.

We know that sperm cells are able to survive in the reproductive tract of a woman for about 5 days, and that once the egg is released, it will die in about 12-24 hours. Therefore, the fertile period -or “fertile window”- is a 6-day interval ending on the day of ovulation.

To boost your odds to become pregnant, have sex before and during ovulation, every day or every other day. If your cycles are irregular and you cannot figure out your fertile days, you may use an ovulation predictor kit, or otherwise visit a specialist, who can help you find your fertile window.

MYTH # 6. Smoking doesn’t affect our chances of getting pregnant. I will quit smoking as soon as I get pregnant

You are most likely aware that smoking during pregnancy is dangerous, as it can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low-birthweight babies and -according to recent studies– congenital malformations.

But you should also know that smoking is harmful for your fertility: smoking as few as five cigarettes per day is associated with reduced fertility, both in women and men, and this seems to be true even for secondhand smoking. It has been estimated that smokers may have a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate, and that up to 13% of infertility is due to smoking.

Smoking can affect ovulation, as well as the ability of the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. The effect of tobacco is so harmful for the ovaries that menopause occurs, on average, one to four years earlier in smoking women than in nonsmoking ones.

Men are also affected by tobacco: decreases in sperm density, motility, and abnormalities in sperm morphology have been observed in men who smoke, which impact a man’s ability to fertilize an egg. 

Therefore, before trying for a baby, do yourself a favor … and put out the cigarette for good!

MYTH # 7. You don’t need to worry about your age. There’s always IVF

Another common misconception! Many women believe that, if age-related infertility strikes, they can overcome their problem by getting treated with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, just as natural fertility declines with age, success rates with IVF also decline as a woman gets older.

According to the USA Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women younger than 35 years old have 33% chances of having a baby after IVF; for women ages 38 to 40 the success rate drops to 17%, while those 43 to 44 years old have only 3% chances of giving birth after IVF (using their own eggs).

IVF is not a guarantee to have a baby, and does not extend a woman’s reproductive life. Despite the number of celebrities having babies in their mid-40s and beyond, they may have not necessarily used their own eggs. While every woman has the right to keep her privacy, there is a wrong perception left that fertility treatments can extend a woman’s fertility span. There is a very low probability of improving success of conceiving after age 43 by using assisted reproduction using your own eggs. Nevertheless, you may opt to use oocyte donation (eggs of a younger woman) if age-related infertility stands in the way of parenthood.

MYTH # 8. A woman can’t get pregnant if she doesn’t have an orgasm

For men, things are clear: no orgasm, no pregnancy, as ejaculation occurs during orgasm. Well, that’s not entirely true: semen can be released during intercourse prior to orgasm in the so-called pre-ejaculation fluid, or pre-come (read more here).

For women though, getting pregnant has nothing to do with an orgasm. But could female orgasm improve the chances for conception? The answer is not clear.

Researchers have wondered for years about the purpose of female orgasm, and many theories have been proposed: 

  • Just the pleasure it provokes, so that women want to reproduce and preserve the species!
  • The “poleaxe” hypothesis: orgasms make women feel relaxed and sleepy so that they will lie down after sex and the sperm reach their destination more easily.
  • The “upsuck” theory: the contractions of the uterus “suck up” the sperm released in the vagina and help them travel through the uterus to the tubes.
  • Pair bonding: the hormones produced during orgasm (such as oxytocin and prolactin) contribute to warm feelings towards her partner.

Orgasms are not necessary to get pregnant, but there are plenty of good reasons to have one! Nevertheless, it is not uncommon that women trying to conceive link the desire for an orgasm with their desire to have a baby; this leads to psychological pressure and difficulty achieving orgasm, adding frustration to a process that is supposed to be pleasurable…

Try not to consider the orgasm just as goal to get pregnant. Enjoy the intimate time with your partner, without any pressure. If you have an orgasm, great. If not, that’s fine, too!

MYTH #9. We’ve already had one child, so conceiving again will be easy

Perhaps, but it’s no guarantee. Many individuals experience secondary infertility, or difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent child. 

Secondary infertility may be caused by age-related factors, both for you and your partner. Sometimes, a new underlying medical condition develops. Eventually, a fertility issue that always existed gets worse; while it didn’t prevent pregnancy before, now it has become a problem. A previous pregnancy may actually be the reason you don’t get pregnant again: surgical complications or infection after childbirth may have provoked scarring, which may in turn led to infertility.

Things change with time. Even if you got easily pregnant on your own before, if you’re struggling to have another child talk to your doctor, who can advice you on the next steps to follow.

MYTH #10. Infertility is a woman’s issue

Typically, the causes of infertility break down like this: 

  • Approximately one third of the couples struggle with male infertility;
  • In another third, the problem is female infertility;
  • The remaining third will either face both male and female fertility issues, or a cause will never be found (unexplained infertility).

Common causes of female infertily are: age, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), tubal or pelvic issues, endometriosis, and family history. 

Common causes of male infertility tend to be from prior surgery, infection, or a problem present at birth.

As part of the preliminary work-up to determine the cause and treatment of infertility, both women and men will need to undergo clinical and specialized complementary exams.

MYTH #11. Men’s age doesn’t matter

While some men can father children into their 50’s or 60’s, men’s fertility isn’t age-proof: it starts declining in their 40s, although less drastically as compared to women’s fertility.

As a man ages, the concentration of mobile, healthy sperm and semen volume overall will decrease. It is clear now that men over the age of 40 have higher chances of having children with chromosomal abnormalities, causing miscarriages in their female partners. Moreover, researchers have found a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia. 

A man’s age does matter. While men may not have a complete drop off in fertility like women do, “advanced paternal age” is something couples should be aware of. Men’s biological clock is also ticking!

MYTH #12. If I take good care of my general health, my fertility will be in check too

Whereas a healthy body and mind may boost fertility in certain cases, most infertility situations cannot be resolved by a lifestyle or diet change, particularly those related to age.

It is a common belief that certain diet types can help you get pregnant. There is no evidence that vegetarian diets, low-fat diets, antioxidant- or vitamin-enriched diets will increase your chances of having a child.

A woman’s weight plays a role in fertility: those who are either very thin or obese may find it hard to conceive. If you are trying to get pregnant, learn more about some lifestyle tips to boost your chances of getting pregnant here.

MYTH #13. If a man can ejaculate, his fertility is fine

Many myths surround male fertility and their sexual performance. It is a common (and unfortunate) myth that if a man’s fertility is compromised, this means his sexual performance is the problem. This is not true. Problems with sperm count, shape, and movement are the primary causes of male infertility. 

Another common myth is that you can tell there is a problem with the sperm just by looking at the semen. In fact, even men that have no sperm cells at all (azoospermia) usually have normal-looking semen. 

For the vast majority of men with infertility, there are no visible or obvious signs that anything is wrong. Healthy erectile function and normal ejaculation are not guarantee that the sperm is in good shape.

That said, erectile dysfunction can be a possible symptom of infertility; it may due to low testosterone levels or a physical injury. Difficulty with ejaculation can also be a signal certain medical problems. But these are uncommon signs of male infertility.

If you are struggling to get pregnant, have your partner check in with his doctor. A semen analysis will help clarify whether his sperm are fit for conception.

MYTH #14. The birth control pill will affect your future fertility

All scientific evidence agrees that hormonal contraceptives do not make women sterile. Moreover, they may confer increased likelihood of pregnancy with long-term use, and in certain cases they can also preserve fertility. Read more on the contraceptive pill here.

 

To summarize:

Myths and misconceptions regarding fertility and conception are, unfortunately, widely disseminated. This is a serious problem, as misinformation may lead not only to unnecessary stress, but also to take wrong decisions…

Get yourself well informed! Consult your gynecologist, who can help you with any concerns you have. Your doctor can also give you some tips on lifestyle changes to optimize your fertility, prescribe some exams, and tell you when to come back if you don’t achieve pregnancy on your own.

Last, a good piece of advice: if you want to get pregnant, have lots of sex – as much as you want, whenever you want – and enjoy it! After you have had sex, do whatever you want – just don’t smoke 😉

 

Photo credits

Intro: pixabay.com; 1: rma-fl.com; 2: motherandbaby.co.uk; 3: romper.com; 4: pixabay.com; 5: wsaw.com; 6: babycenter.com; 7: nexter.org; 8: irishtimes.com; 9: health.clevelandclinic.org; 10: thefertilechickonline.com; 11: businessinsider.com; 12: hayatouki.com; 13: livescience.com; 14: pinterest.com

MY NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH STORY

Wonderful. Empowering. Overwhelming. It is difficult to find a word to describe the experience of a vaginal birth. As a mother -who went through this experience-  and obstetrician, even after having delivered thousands of babies, I can’t help but admire every single time the beauty of a vaginal birth, it always feels to me like a perfectly designed choreography…

But the fact that something is natural doesn’t mean that is devoid of risks or complications. Thus, a hospital natural birth allows a woman to deliver with minimum intervention, while assuring peace of mind in case something goes wrong. And believe me, sometimes things DO go wrong, and then we may have just a few minutes to save the mother or the baby… 
True, hospitals can sometimes interfere with the process of a natural birth: measures such as fetal monitoring or the IV line are usually non-negotiable requirements for a hospital birth, but they can be invaluable, even life-saving in case an emergency ensues.
A natural, unmedicated hospital birth IS possible, it’s just a matter of having a motivated mom and a supportive team…
Here, KM shares her experience of a natural birth at a hospital and provides some tips to overcome the obstacles that may present in the process…

Natural Birth KM 2 resized

My Natural Hospital Birth: Overcoming obstacles to get to the birth I had

“I gave birth without pain relief and I consider my fifteen hours of labour as some of my best. My husband turned ace birth partner – a nice surprise, and a lucky one considering we opted not to hire a midwife or doula. We swayed to Don Carlos’s Rivers of Babylon and Simon and Garfunkel’s I am a Rock, among other soothing tunes in our Labour Chill Mix; moo-ed like cows; and got tennis balls rolling on my back. The first ten hours at home and en route to the hospital felt like a date: laughter, teamwork, watermelon juice (it was August, we live in Greece)… and some manageable pain thrown in to rally against together.

Natural Birth KM 1 resizedWhat I found least pleasant about my birth experience wasn’t the pain. It was the hospital admittance process keeping my husband and me apart and waiting. The hospitals I know prioritise hospital practicalities and legal self-protection over emotional wellbeing. Routine procedures like the IV are designed to allow quick and easy access to medical intervention, not for soothing pregnant women to “open up and let the baby out”. We didn’t expect the hospital setting to encourage natural birth, so we worked with my obstetrician ahead of time to overcome the obstacles we could predict.

Having read Birthing from Within and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (one of these suggests moo-ing like a cow to relax and open the cervix), attended birthing classes at Eutokia and Babycenter’s online birthing course, we were convinced that the less unnecessary medical intervention the better for both mom and baby. Avoiding unnecessary intervention seems like common sense, but as my obstetrician reminded us: common sense is not so common. We prepared for birth in the country with the highest rate (at 70%) of caesarean births in the world, a Human Rights in Childbirth case study.

Here is what was at stake at the hospital and how we managed each concern:

A. My rights over my body – My obstetrician kept me informed of my choices throughout. Her track record in vaginal births, willingness to explain our options, welcoming attitude to our attempts to be informed all set the stage for mutual respect. When she suggested interventions, we agreed. I had a membrane sweep a day before my due date and had my waters broken when I was about 8cm dilated.

B. My responsibility towards my baby – Protecting my birth experience felt like a first success at parenting. The memory still provides a deep well of confidence that we draw from in the endurance sport of parenting.

C. Recovery time – I was able to walk to the toilet by myself after the birth, and to walk to the nurse’s desk to ask for my baby back.

D. Breastfeeding success – I chose to room in with my baby and I enforced this choice by asking for my baby back. Even though we were “rooming-in”, our baby spent a lot of time out of our sight. My obstetrician informed the hospital staff that I was interested in exclusive breastfeeding and asked that they not to offer formula or water. Leaving the hospital after 24 hours ensured that any accidental feeds during the baby’s long absences from rooming in didn’t sabotage my breastfeeding goals.

E. The opportunity to bond with baby – My obstetrician did her best to remove unnecessary separations between us and our new baby. She arranged some alone time for the three of us before the hospital’s priorities took over again after the birth. She also signed off on our “early” release at 24 hours.

Natural Birth KM 5 resizedEight tips to having a natural birth in hospital: 

  1. Learn about what you can expect. We had read about the “I don’t think I can do this” moment getting through the last couple of centimetres. Knowing about this ahead of time kept us calm and later we laughed in recognition of the predictability of it. Just because childbirth (and breastfeeding, for that matter) is natural, it doesn’t mean that it comes easily or without need for knowledge.
  2. Be vigilant about what you want and get your birthing team on the same page. My husband and I wrote our birth wishes down (see below) and talked them over with each other, our obstetrician and the hospital staff until we reached a version that was more realistic. The process of writing this one pager was invaluable – it helped us become more informed and helped us mentally prepare for what success could look like.
  3. Arrive at the hospital late. On our obstetrician’s advice, we didn’t leave our home until after my contractions were about three minutes apart, ten hours into labour. I credit my obstetrician with sharing this advice, but I imagine that the advice she is able to give varies based on how informed a couple is.
  4. Make yourself at home in the hospital. We dimmed the lights, brought music and admittedly a small suitcase full of other personal touches we didn’t end up using. It turned out that I was focused inward much of the time in the later stages of labour at the hospital and my husband and music were all I needed to feel relaxed. I still claim that having the little suitcase of other supplies was comforting.
  5. Have at least one champion who will be vocal about what you want. There came a time when I was in another zone and talking was difficult. I was lucky to have both my husband and obstetrician fend off well-meaning nurses offering an epidural too late into my labour,  when it was tempting but would have been counter productive. I later roomed with a mom who was given such a late epidural, essentially sabotaging her natural birth efforts after having done most of the hard work.
  6. Rooming in – ask for your baby back! In my experience “rooming in” babies seem to spend a surprising amount of time in some auditorium that parents aren’t allowed even to look into. They are not returned after their individual checks are done but when they are all done, unless you ask.Natural Birth KM 4 resized
  7. Ask for the advice you need to care for your baby yourself – how to change a nappy, how to hold the baby to wash away poop, how to help baby latch onto nipple, how to breastfeed lying down. Many of these are much easier to learn with guided practice rather than through books. I noticed that hospital staff are used to parents who are content to let them handle the baby, but who miss out on learning while in the hospital.
  8. Get out as soon as possible, unless you find the hospital setting a rest from home (my obstetrician suggested I keep an open mind about this since the hospital can be a nice break when there are other children waiting at home). I gave birth at the only Greek hospital at the time that allowed exit after 24 hours, assuming all is well. We fought for our exit and the two couples we roomed with decided to do the same. We were much more relaxed at home and I could stop demanding for my baby back.

The husband adds:

Natural Birth KM 3 resizedPreparation was key to having an excellent birth experience. To support my wife, it was important to be involved, not just by being present for the labour but at an early stage. Reading the books Katerina mentions, Birthing from Within and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, were critical to understanding exactly what was going on – and what to expect — at all of the stages of labour, and how panic can cause the process to go into reverse. Doing my homework beforehand allowed me to remain calm and focused. Being involved also created a sense of shared endeavour with Katerina, an important bond necessary for fostering the feelings of trust and safety between us during the labour.

One more thing: if you’re a birth partner, and you have any feelings of self-consciousness about not behaving “seriously” during the labour, get over them. The books were full of useful tips about what to do in specific situations to help Katerina overcome fears and relieve tensions that commonly crop up. If she was going to open up her whole body to let a human out, mooing like a cow was a small ask for me.

 

BIRTH WISHES

KM & MB

Due date: Sunday, 11 August 2013

Baby details: Our first, a girl, we intend to name her CLLB

Obstetrician: Dr. Liliana Colombero

 

We are open to any intervention that Dr. Colombero judges is necessary for the safety of mom and baby. We ask that, outside of an emergency, we are informed before any procedures and be allowed to ask questions about the pros and cons. We are aware that things can change suddenly. Below is our best case scenario, as we imagine it today, 9 August 2013. Thank you for taking the time to read our birth wishes. 

HOSPITAL ADMISSION & PROCEDURES 

Once I’m admitted, I’d like to: 

Prep

  • Opt out of being shaved, assuming I’ve shaved myself already.
  • Opt out of the enema, assuming my system has emptied out ahead of time on its own.
  • Have a heparin lock instead of routine IV, assuming I’m not going for an epidural or c-section.

Environment

  • Listen to music and limit outside noise.
  • Dim the lights when visibility isn’t important.
  • Drink water, or other clear fluids.

LABORING AND BIRTH

As long as the baby and I are doing fine, I’d like to:

  • Avoid a cesarean.
  • Avoid being induced with pitocin.
  • Try a membrane sweep before induction by pitocin.
  • Progress in labor without time limits.
  • Not be offered an epidural, unless I request it.

When it’s time to push, I’d like to:

  • Try different positions.
  • Try perineal massage or compress.
  • Push instinctively when I have the urge.
  • Get guidance about how to push during crowning to reduce the chances of perineal tearing.
  • Avoid an episiotomy, unless Dr. Colombero feels that tearing will be very extensive.

After birth, I’d like to: 

  • Have the baby placed on my stomach immediately for skin-to-skin contact.
  • Hold off on the cutting of the umbilical cord until it stops throbbing.
  • Try to nurse immediately.
  • Wait for the placenta to be delivered in its own time, as much as possible.
  • Hold off on procedures (labelling, shots, tests) for an hour to allow for nursing and bonding.
  • Stay together during recovery with my husband and baby as long as possible.

IF CESAREAN IS REQUIRED

  • I would like to be conscious and have skin-to-skin contact with the baby as soon as possible.
  • Please use double-layer sutures to raise my chances of a VBAC in future.
  • I would like to stay together with my baby during recovery, and to breastfeed as soon as possible.

POSTPARTUM 

While recovering, I’d like to: 

  • Choose 24-hour rooming-in with our baby.
  • Have procedures on our baby done in our presence, as much as possible.
  • Breastfeed exclusively.
  • Speak to a lactation consultant as soon as possible.
  • Avoid baby formula, sugar water, or a pacifier being offered to my baby without my consent.
  • Go home as soon as possible, if all is well.”

 

Do you have any experience to share with us? You may help other women! Send us your story to woman2womenblog@gmail.com

REPEATED ABORTIONS

Repeated or recurrent miscarriage is an issue that concerns us particularly because unfortunately is quite common, and causes intense anxiety to couples. A post specifically on this subject will follow later, but today I want to share with you the story of a woman who went through this problem, and fortunately managed to overcome it…

Baby's and daddy's hands resized

 

“I’m 30 years old and I just gave birth to my second child, but in order to arrive here we went through a long and hard road.

When we decided with my husband to take a step further with the birth of a child, we encountered some difficulties we did not expect. Our first attempt began with a loss, as the pregnancy suddenly stopped between 6 and 7 weeks of pregnancy. My gynecologist told me that many women start with a missed abortion and that I should not get discouraged. So, we retried but unfortunately our second attempt had the same inglorious end, between 6 and 7 weeks the gestation stopped.

..with faith and confidence in the medical team, we brought into the world our first child…

After this experience, my gynecologist proposed that, before we would try again, it would be a good idea to see more in detail if there was anything that could explain these losses, if something was wrong with us. For that reason, we did a series of tests for thrombophilia, antipaternal antibodies, autoimmune diseases, hormonal determinations, and a karyotype of the couple, which may hinder the smooth progress of pregnancy; and with these results on hand we went to consult a hematologist.

The hematologist, in collaboration with my gynecologist, told me that I as soon as I would become pregnant, I would need to follow a special therapy that would help me, and would increase the chances of having a healthy baby.

So when I got pregnant again, with the special treatment, with faith and confidence in the medical team, we brought into the world our first child. With continuous monitoring and support by my gynecologist, but also by the haematologist, I gave birth, with natural delivery, to a healthy baby boy.

No matter what problem you are facing, don’t give up, get informed, learn what you can do, ask help from people who can help you, don’t you stay in the dark and things might work out well for you too.

In the same way I just managed to deliver a beautiful baby girl.

When I decided to discuss the problem with some couples we knew, I found out that exactly the same problem faced two out of four close friends. That scared me, but in the end everything went well for all of us.

No matter what problem you are facing, don’t give up, get informed, learn what you can do, ask help from people who can help you, don’t you stay in the dark and things might work out well for you too. “

A.T.

Do you have any experience to share with us? You may help other women! Send us your story to woman2womenblog@gmail.com

WANT TO GET PREGNANT?

You have decided to get pregnant, that’s great! Before you start trying, here are some tips you may find useful….

  1. Schedule a visit to your gynecologist
  2. Start taking folic acid
  3. Give up drinking, smoking, drugs…
  4. Eat healthy
  5. Reduce caffeine intake
  6. Watch your weight
  7. Exercise, but not too much
  8. Don’t forget your oral health
  9. Reduce your stress levels
  10. Avoid certain infections
  11. Reduce exposure to environmental hazards
  12. Figure out your fertile days

1. Schedule a visit to your gynecologist

Embed from Getty ImagesIt is a good idea, before trying to get pregnant to consult your gynecologist. At that visit, you may want  to discuss:

-any medical problem you may have. Some diseases may get better or worse while you are pregnant, some others may affect your baby.

-any medication you are taking. Certain medications are dangerous during pregnancy, and some have to be switched before you even try to conceive.

-your family history. There are diseases that run in families, and you may be able to do some tests to understand if you are at risk. Be sure to mention whether someone in your family has any health problem (e.g. Down syndrome, thalassemia or sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis, mental retardation), or if someone was born with a cardiac, neurological or other defect.

-your habits: diet, weight, exercise, any unhealthy habit (such as smoking, drinking, or taking drugs).

If it’s been a year since you had a checkup, you can also expect to have a pelvic exam, eventually an ultrasound and a Pap smear. You may also get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and other bacteria that can reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

Some couples may decide to undergo some prenatal blood exams, including genetic testing for specific conditions, such as hemoglobinopathies (e.g. thalassemia) or cystic fibrosis, based on their ethnic background or family history.

A folic acid supplement may be prescribed at that point.

2. Start taking folic acid

2800841720_ab6c229284_o

Taking a folic acid supplement is very important. By taking 400 mcg of folic acid a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester, you reduce your chances of having a baby with some births defects (such as spina bifida) by 50 to 70 percent.

You may also consider some multivitamin supplements that may help you get pregnant. Make sure though, not to exceed the recommended doses of vitamin A (unless it’s in a form called beta-carotene). Getting too much vitamin A can cause birth defects.

3. Give up drinking, smoking, drugs…

4322475363_b7d6a1c20d_qIf you smoke, drink or take drugs, now’s the time to stop!

Tobacco use can affect fertility both in women and men, and this seems to be true even for secondhand smoking. Smoking or taking drugs while you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low-birthweight babies and (according to recent studies)  congenital malformations.

Alcohol can also reduce fertility, therefore it’s a good idea to cut back when you start trying to get pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects and other severe problems to you baby.

4. Eat healthy

9577668909_02670b3797_qIt is now a good time to start eating healthy: plenty of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as whole grains and foods that are high in calcium – like milk and yogurt. Eat a variety of protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and meats.

While fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (which are very important for your baby’s brain and eye development), as well as proteins, vitamin D and other nutrients, it also contains mercury, which can be harmful. It is usually recommended that pregnant women eat up to 2 servings a week of fish that are not high in mercury (such as herring, trout, salmon, and sardines), and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish. The consumption of white canned tuna should be limited to 1 serving per week.

5. Reduce caffeine intake

3155462396_d7f6b94586_qThere seems to be an association between high caffeine consumption and reduced fertility. Too much caffeine has also been linked to a risk of miscarriage in some studies, but not in others. To be on the safe side, it is recommended to limit coffee consumption to 1 cup a day.

 

 

6. Watch your weight

belly-2354_1280You may have an easier time conceiving if you’re at a healthy weight. Being over or under the ideal weight makes it harder for some women to become pregnant.

 

7. Exercise, but not too much

8552318056_f938f51ff2_qA fitness program will result in a healthy body, fit for pregnancy. In addition, exercising is a great way to relieve the stress that can be both the cause and consequence of not getting pregnant…

You may consider walking or cycling or swimming, on most days of the week, for about 30 minutes. To increase flexibility, you may try stretching, Pilates or yoga.

But be careful not to overdo it. Very intense exercise seems to have the opposite effect, as it has been related to infertility in some studies.

8. Don’t forget your oral health

Woman with toothbrush

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make women more susceptible to gum disease, causing the gums to bleed easily while flossing or brushing. But if you take care of your oral health before trying to conceive you have less chances of experiencing problems while pregnant.

 

 

9. Reduce your stress levels

7676579466_42b4fd82d1_qIt is becoming clearer that stress is responsible for infertility; indeed, several studies reveal that relaxation techniques increase the chances of getting pregnant. Furthermore, a recent study confirms something we see in everyday practice: pregnancy is much more likely to occur during months when couples report feeling happy and relaxed and is less likely to happen during the months they report feeling tense or anxious. The influence of stress on infertility, though is not straightforward, and it may vary in different women.

10. Avoid certain infections

337315801_4f8f28992f_q

You’ll want to stay away from certain foods such as raw and undercooked red meat, fish and poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses. These foods can cause dangerous infections, such as listeriosis, salmonella and toxoplasmosis.

In order to avoid toxoplasmosis it’s also a good idea to wear gloves when digging in the garden or the cat’s litter box, if you have one.

11.Reduce exposure to environmental hazards

2575598759_f2109d9152_qThere is some evidence to support that routine exposure to certain chemicals or radiation may be harmful for pregnant women. If you work in such an environment, you’ll need to make some changes before you conceive. In addition, some cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, etc, can be dangerous during pregnancy.

 

12. Figure out your fertile days

2827062969_951d6cf19b_qInitially, you may prefer to let fate decide when you will conceive. But if you want to be more precise in calculating your fertile days:

First, you should understand when your ovulation occurs. For that, you may use an ovulation calculator, that is, a web tool or application where you write down your period days for some months and you learn when you are fertile; you will find several online, many are designed for smart phones. With these calculators, you get a rough estimate of your fertile days.

If you want to be even more exact, you may start recording your basal body temperature (BBT) and your cervical mucus changes. If you chart them over several months, you may more easily understand when you’re ovulating each month.

Ovulation predictor kits can also help you figure out when you’re ovulating by detecting a hormone (LH) in your urine.

Once you have a clear picture of your cycle, there’s only one thing left to do — get to work! It is advised to have sex every day or every other day beginning about five days before ovulation, and continuing through the day after ovulation. This is because, though sperm can live as long as five days inside a woman’s body, an egg’s life span is only about 12 to 24 hours. By having intercourse before you ovulate, as well as on the day of and the day after ovulation, you maximize your chances of getting pregnant.

 

Good luck! And hopefully soon with good news!

More info at gofertile.eu

Photo credits
1. Getty images; 2. @Doug88888 Flickr.com; 3. Paul Heskes Flickr.com; 4. PeterFranz Flickr.com; 5. Adam Selwood Flickr.com; 6. pixabay.com; 7. Richard foster Flickr.com; 8. Wagner Cesar Munhoz Flickr.com; 9. MeditationMusic.net Flickr.com; 10. Joost Nelissen Flickr.com; 11. tk-link Flickr.com; 12..craig Flickr.com