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You are here: Home > Fertility & Trying to Conceive > Conception

The Basics of Trying To Conceive

by Lori Ramsey |
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When is the best time to get pregnant? This is the million dollar question for women trying to conceive. Age old advice says to have intercourse on day 13, 14 and 15 and you're sure to hit it. Right? Wrong. The truth is, each woman's cycle is as different and unique as she is.

Ovulation occurs at different times of the month for different women. It can occur as soon as day 6 (or earlier) or much later than day 14. There are many factors involved when ovulation occurs. The hormones estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luetenizing hormone (LH), and progesterone all play key roles, as well as the mental status and physical well being. Stress and illness could very well halt ovulation - even when a woman's body may be gearing up to ovulate. Even minor stresses, such as moving, or company can delay ovulation.

Given the factors involved in ovulation, it is fairly easy to know exactly when ovulation occurs, especially if a woman charts her fertility signs. Charting the temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position is the most definite way of seeing when ovulation occurs. Temperatures should be taken at the same time every morning, before rising and with a good basal body thermometer. When you see an upward shift in temperatures for at least 3 days - it is an indication that ovulation occurred on the day before the rise in temperatures. You draw a coverline by counting back the last 6 days of temperatures before the rise and going .1 a degree above the highest. You then use that to make sure that the temperatures post ovulation stay above this line - otherwise you may have a luteal phase defect or a low progesterone problem.

Charting the cervical fluid is simple. Simply wipe the outside of the vagina and check the fluid. Cloudy or sticky or no fluid means either ovulation isn't near or it has already occurred. The presence of clear stretchy fluid - also known as "egg-white fluid"- is the most fertile, and is indicative that ovulation is very near - usually within a day or two. Some women may spot during ovulation and this is perfectly normal. It is caused from the surge of estrogen - right before the release of progesterone after the egg comes out.

The last charting sign - the cervical position is the most invasive. Not all practitioners recommend this, but should you do it, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and keep your nails trimmed. The cervix, at peak fertile time, rises up and opens - to allow the sperm to enter - and becomes soft - like your lips. This is also known as SHOW - soft, high, open and wet. After ovulation, it becomes low and firm - feeling much like the tip of your nose. It may take several cycles to catch on with this sign.

Once you determine when ovulation is about to happen, it is advisable to have intercourse on the days before and during ovulation. And to be extra sure - have intercourse for 3 days after you see the rise in temps. If the man has a normal sperm count, it is okay to have intercourse every day. If the sperm count is low, every other day will suffice.

After ovulation, if pregnancy occurs, you may have symptoms to let you know that pregnancy was achieved. About 4 to 12 days after ovulation you may experience implantation spotting. This occurs when the fertilized egg burrows into the uterine lining. Not all women will experience this. You may, after implantation experience fatigue, nausea, food cravings or aversions, sore breasts and mood swings. Of course, these symptoms sometimes mimic pms and it can be hard to determine if it is, in fact, pregnancy.

At approximately 10 days post ovulation you can take a sensitive home pregnancy test and get a positive result. Keep in mind that some women won't test positive until as late as 17 days post ovulation, and I have seen some test positive as early as 8 days. If you know the length of your luteal phase (the time between ovulation and menstruation) - and you should if you chart - then you can safely assume that you are possibly pregnant if you go one day past your longest luteal phase.


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