Posts Tagged ‘conception’

Fertility myths – we’ve got the facts

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

negtestWe’ve heard of many different theories about fertility and becoming pregnant through AskUs. We’ve rounded up some of the ones we hear most often to help you weed through fact and fiction.

Q: Can folic acid help me get pregnant?

A: If you are trying to become pregnant, it is a good idea that you take a multivitamin that contains at least 400mcg of folic acid. This will help to prevent certain birth defects if you become pregnant. Folic acid, however, is not known to help with fertility in women. So, if you are having trouble becoming pregnant, folic acid is not something that will help you to conceive.

Q: I have an irregular period, can I get pregnant?

A: If you don’t have a regular period, there are other ways you can determine when you are ovulating, such as using your basal body temperature, cervical mucus and an ovulation prediction kit. For more tips, visit here.

Q: “Does drinking caffeine or smoking cigarettes affect my fertility?”

A: You may have heard that too much caffeine can cause miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy). Some studies say this is true, and others don’t. Until we know more about how caffeine can affect pregnancy, it’s best to limit the amount you get to 200 milligrams each day. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Be sure to check the size of your cup to know how much caffeine you’re getting.

Smoking can affect your fertility and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Need help quitting? We’ve got resources.

Q: If I have sex a few days before ovulation will I conceive a girl?

A: Gender is determined at the moment of conception. During ovulation the ovaries release a mature egg that begins to travel to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. Sperm travel through the uterus to fertilize the egg within the fallopian tube. Only a single sperm fertilizes an egg. Both the sperm and the egg contain 23 chromosomes that will combine to make up the zygote which contains a total of 46 chromosomes. At conception, your baby’s gender, eye color, hair color, and much more has already been determined.

Of the 46 chromosomes that make up your baby’s genetic material, two chromosomes–one from your egg and one from your partner’s sperm–determine your baby’s gender. A woman’s egg contains only X sex chromosomes. A man’s sperm, however, may contain either an X or Y sex chromosome. If, at the instant of fertilization, a sperm with an X sex chromosome meets your egg (another X chromosome), your baby will be a girl (XX). If a sperm containing a Y sex chromosome meets your egg, your baby will be a boy (XY). It is always the father’s genetic contribution that determines the sex of the baby.

There are many old wives tales about choosing the sex of your baby but none of them have been proven.

Q: Will my birth control cause infertility?

A: The type of birth control you use may affect how soon you can get pregnant once you stop using it. To check your specific birth control, visit here.

Using birth control will not hurt your chances of becoming pregnant in the future. All reversible birth control methods will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but they do not have long-lasting effects on your ability to get pregnant when you stop.

Have more questions? Text or email mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Pregnant? How far along are you in your pregnancy?

Monday, March 28th, 2016

pr_mr_lg_ultrasound1Many health care professionals will begin to estimate how far along you are in your pregnancy by asking you when the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) was. But the development of your baby does not begin until conception – which is after your last period.

Are you confused? Let me explain…

Your pregnancy has two ages, gestational age and fetal age. Both are measured in weeks but they will be different numbers. Your gestational age is the age of the pregnancy from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. Your fetal age is the actual age of your growing baby from the day you conceived.

Health care providers use gestational age when dating a pregnancy. It is very difficult to determine an accurate date of conception, so your health care provider may estimate when you conceived based on the first day of your last period. This is your gestational age.

While your provider will use your LMP to initially date your pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), an ultrasound measurement of your baby in the first trimester is the most accurate method of confirming your gestational age. Keep in mind, after a first trimester ultrasound, your due date may be adjusted.

Why is it important to be aware of both?

We often hear from pregnant women that their baby’s development is not matching up with how far along they are in their pregnancy. For example, one question we received, the woman was 12 weeks pregnant but her baby was measuring 10 weeks along.  It is important to confirm with your provider that your gestational age is 12 weeks and your fetal age is 10 weeks – which means your pregnancy is on track. (Keep in mind that there may be other reasons why a baby is not developing on a typical schedule. If you are concerned, speak with your prenatal provider.)

Not sure how far along you are? Our due date calculator, will date your pregnancy based on gestational age.

Still have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Understanding ovulation and fertilization

Monday, July 8th, 2013

coupleWhile it’s obvious to many, there are plenty of folks who don’t really understand the basic mechanisms about how we get pregnant. If you have been trying for a while without success, it can be frustrating. Maybe this will help.

A woman’s ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of her period. This is called ovulation. When a couple has sexual intercourse (and does not use birth control) around the time of ovulation, a man’s sperm swim to meet the woman’s egg. When a sperm penetrates the egg, it’s called fertilization or conception. The fertilized egg (embryo) then travels to the woman’s uterus (womb), where it burrows into the lining of the uterus and begins to grow.

The best time to get pregnant is a few days before ovulation or the day of ovulation. This is because a man’s sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse and a woman’s egg is fertile for 12 to 24 hours after its release. Knowing when you’re ovulating can boost your chances of getting pregnant. If your periods are regular, use an ovulation calculator to get an idea of when you’re most fertile. If your periods are irregular, use one of the following methods. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about the most effective way to use these.
• Purchase a basal body thermometer. Use it to take your temperature before you get out of bed every day. Your temperature goes up by 1 degree when you ovulate.
• Check the mucus in your vagina. It may become thinner, more slippery, clearer and more plentiful just before ovulation.
• Purchase an ovulation prediction kit. Use it to test your urine for a substance called luteinizing hormone (LH). LH increases each month during ovulation.

Having sex as close as possible to ovulation can improve your chance of getting pregnant. Select and watch our video on ovulation and pregnancy to learn more.

Amenorrhea – missed periods

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

There can be many reasons why a woman might not get her period. For women who are sexually active and in their 20s or 30s, pregnancy is the first thing that pops to mind. If you’re in your 40s or 50s, it could be the beginning of the transition leading to menopause, or perimenopause. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find out why.

Extreme exercise can be a cause. Did you know that between 5% and 25% of female athletes work out so hard that they stop getting their periods? This is called exercise-induced amenorrhea. I had two friends, both avid runners, who were unable to conceive while they were in training and running marathons. Their intense exercise altered the manufacturing and releasing of reproductive hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. While still remaining active, my friends had to significantly dial back their exercise routines before they were able to have children. But both of them went on to have kids.

Another substantial body stressor that can affect the operation of reproductive hormones is a severely changed eating pattern. Women with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa are greatly altering their hormonal balance by depriving their body of nutrition. This can shut down a normal reproductive cycle.

Women who breastfeed often do not see the return of a normal period for many months. This lack of a period does not necessarily mean you’re not ovulating and it is possible to get pregnant during this time.

Medical conditions like problems with your uterus, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)thyroid conditions or pituitary gland disorders, or problems with the hypothalamus can cause amenorrhea. Women who are extremely overweight or obese can lose their period.

If you miss your period for an extended period of time and aren’t sure why, check into it with your health care provider.

Ovulation and timing

Friday, August 19th, 2011

The best time to get pregnant is a few days before ovulation or the day of ovulation. This is because a man’s sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse and a woman’s egg is fertile for 12 to 24 hours after its release. If your periods are regular, use an ovulation calculator to get an idea of when you’re most fertile.  If your periods are irregular, use one of the following methods. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about the most effective way to use these.
• Purchase a basal body thermometer.  Use it to take your temperature before you get out of bed every day. Your temperature goes up by 1 degree when you ovulate.
• Check the mucus in your vagina. It may become thinner, more slippery, clearer and more plentiful just before ovulation.
• Purchase an ovulation prediction kit. Use it to test your urine for a substance called luteinizing hormone (LH). LH increases each month during ovulation.

Having sex as close as possible to ovulation can improve your chance of getting pregnant. Watch our video on ovulation to learn more.

Don’t worry if you don’t get pregnant right away. Most couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but chances are it’ll happen before too long. If you’ve been trying for more than a year (or six months if you’re older than 35), talk to your health care provider. You can get tests to find out why you’re having problems getting pregnant. Many couples can overcome these problems without needing fertility treatments.

National Infertility Awareness Week

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

April 24-30th is National Infertility Awareness Week, designed to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and encourage the public to take charge of their reproductive health.  Started by RESOLVE:  The National Infertility Association in 1989, the week brings together the professional family-building community, corporate partners and the media to 1) ensure that people trying to conceive know the guidelines for seeing a specialist when they are trying to conceive; 2) enhance public understanding that infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention; and 3) educate legislators about the disease of infertility and how it impacts people in their state.

If you’re thinking about fertility treatment, read our information with a variety considerations including how do I know if I need a fertility specialist? How do I find one? What sorts of diagnosis and treatment options are there? What are the costs and will my insurance cover them? Where can I go for more information?  For more information and links to resources on the Awareness Week, click on this link.

Stressed? WHO’S STRESSED?!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

stressedWe all have stress in our lives and some of us deal with it better than others.  Aside from the major traumas in our lives (death in the family, divorce, terminal illness…), what’s stress for one person may just be a nuisance for another. (So, how’s your MIL?  Got a really unique co-worker or boss? Has your car broken down lately?…)

Did you know that stress may impact your fertility?  A recent study in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that stress, which alters a woman’s chemistry, may make her less likely to get pregnant than a woman who is not stressed.  Researchers in the United States and England measured women’s levels of alpha-amylase, a body chemical in saliva that’s considered a barometer of stress. They followed the women for six months. Their findings indicate that women with higher levels of alpha-amylase were less likely than women with lower levels to get pregnant each day during the fertile window.

So, if you are hoping to get pregnant and are upset that you haven’t yet conceived, chill out.  Find a way to relax and let nature take its course.  If you don’t get pregnant right away, don’t worry. Nearly 9 out of 10 couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.

Pregnancy in your late 40s

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

pregnant-womanMany of us have heard that Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, is pregnant at the age of 47. Wow, you go girl!  I hear some women asking “If she can, why can’t I?”  Good question, complicated answer.

Women over age 35 may be less fertile than younger women because they tend to ovulate (release an egg from the ovaries) less frequently. Certain health conditions that are more common in this age group also may interfere with conception. These include endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes and fibroids.

A woman over age 35 should consult her health care provider if she has not conceived after 6 months of trying. Studies suggest that about one-third of women between 35 and 39 and about half of those over age 40 have fertility problems.  At age 47, most babies are conceived with some form of fertility treatment.   This can be time consuming and expensive.

Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester for women of all ages. The risk of miscarriage increases with age. Studies suggest that about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies for women in their 20s end in miscarriage. The risk rises to about 35 percent at ages 40 to 44 and more than 50 percent by age 45. The age-related increased risk of miscarriage is caused, at least in part, by increases in chromosomal abnormalities.

Women in their late 30s and 40s are very likely to have a healthy baby. However, they may face more complications along the way than younger women. Some complications that are more common in women over 35 include: gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, placental problems, premature birth, stillbirth.  About 47% of women over age 40 give birth via cesarean section.

All these things taken into consideration, many women who do conceive in their late 40s, either on their own (unlikely but not impossible) or with some fertility treatment, do manage to have healthy babies.  The important thing to remember is to have a preconception checkup and early and regular prenatal care.

Free folic acid

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Kmart Pharmacy is committed to helping educate women about healthy pregnancies. As part of their efforts this year, Kmart pharmacies across the U.S. will provide one free month of folic acid to expectant mothers.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord called neural tube defects (NTDs). Folic acid works to prevent these birth defects only if taken before conception and during early pregnancy. Folate is the natural form of folic acid that is found in many foods.

Because NTDs originate in the first month of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, it is important for a woman to have enough folic acid in her system before conception. Studies show that if all women consumed the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of all NTDs could be prevented.

Once you’re pregnant, you should increase your folic acid intake to at least 600 micrograms of folic acid. Your prenatal vitamin should have the right amount of folic acid you’ll need during pregnancy.

Most women should limit the amount of folic acid they take to 1,000 micrograms a day unless otherwise directed by a health provider. For example, women who have had a previous pregnancy affected by birth defects of the brain and spine and women with sickle cell disease should be sure to talk with their health providers about the need for more folic acid.

Folic acid is recommended for all women of childbearing age because about half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned.  Kmart is stepping up to the plate to help.  From March 28 through May 1, customers can obtain folic acid when they fill their prescription at their local Kmart. Additionally, over-the-counter folic acid is available as part of this promotion. Limited quantities per store are available.

Marathon sex

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

rabbitsI was reading today about someone’s “absolutely reliable” way of conceiving.  She said you need to have sex for ten days straight – five days before and five days after ovulation. And positively no cheating with “I’m too tired tonight!”

Absolutely reliable?  Well… there’s good reason to think it couldn’t hurt. Since most of us don’t know exactly when we ovulate, the five days before and after the date you think you’ll ovulate covers most bases.  A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release from the ovary. A man’s sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse. So the best time to have sex if you’re trying to conceive is a few days before ovulation (ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of a woman’s period) and the day of ovulation.  The closer intercourse is to ovulation, the more likely it is you’ll get pregnant.

Check out our ovulation calculator to get an idea of your most fertile days.  You also can check your basal body temperature to try to better pinpoint your ovulation date.  Once you have a good idea of when that is, make a pact to act like rabbits for ten days.  No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.  And it might be fun… or exhausting!