Posts Tagged ‘getting pregnant’

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.

Three common folic acid myths

Friday, January 8th, 2016

pills-moon vitaminWe receive a lot of questions about folic acid. Here are three of the most common misconceptions people seem to have.

Myth #1: Folic acid reduces the risk for ALL birth defects.

TRUTH: Folic acid reduces the risk of certain birth defects.

Folic acid reduces the risk for a very specific type of birth defect called a neural tube defect (NTD). The neural tube is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord. A NTD can happen when the neural tube doesn’t close completely. This results in birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. If all women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, it may help reduce the number of pregnancies affected by NTDs by up to 70 percent.

Myth #2: Folic acid will help me to get pregnant.

TRUTH: Folic acid is important to take before pregnancy, but it will not help you to become pregnant.

Folic acid does not help a woman to conceive. However, it is recommended that ALL women take folic acid, even if they are not trying to get pregnant. This is because folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects only if it is taken BEFORE pregnancy and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

The neural tube is one of the first structures that is formed in a developing embryo, therefore you need to make sure you are taking folic acid BEFORE you are pregnant. And because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, it’s important that all women take folic acid every day, even if they are not planning to get pregnant. So take a multivitamin that has 400 micrograms of folic acid in it every day. Most multivitamins have this amount, but check the label to be sure.

Myth #3: I eat a healthy diet, so I can get enough folic acid from food.

TRUTH: It may be possible, but most women will not get enough from their diet.

Folic acid is naturally available in many fruits and vegetables, including:

  • Beans, like lentils, pinto beans and black beans
  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and Romaine lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Peanuts (But don’t eat them if you have a peanut allergy)
  • Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit

Many flours, breads, cereals, and pasta are fortified with folic acid, as well. This means they have folic acid added to them. You can look for the words “fortified” or “enriched” on the package to know if the product has folic acid in it.

However, it’s hard to get all the folic acid you need from food. And according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), your body only absorbs about 50 % of that. So even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, make sure you take your multivitamin each day too.

Some women, like those who’ve had a pregnancy affected by NTDs or women with sickle cell disease, may need more folic acid. Talk to your provider to make sure you get the right amount.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Planning to become a mom

Friday, May 9th, 2014

pregnant womanHopefully we all remember that Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you aren’t a mom yet, but are thinking of starting a family soon, there are a number of things that you can do to start getting ready. One of the best things you and your partner can do for your baby is to plan ahead. Having a healthy baby begins well before you get pregnant.

More than half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. This means that a lot of women get pregnant without really being ready for it. Babies who are planned are more likely to be born healthy than babies who are unplanned. This is because women who plan their pregnancies are more likely to get healthy before pregnancy. And they’re more likely to get early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy. Doing these things can help you have a healthy baby.

One of the most important things that every woman of childbearing age can do is to take a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid is B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development. If all women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, it may help reduce the number of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects by up to 70 percent. All women, even if they’re not trying to get pregnant, should take folic acid.

When thinking about future pregnancies you may want to make a reproductive life plan. This means thinking about if and when you want to have a baby. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many children do I want?
  • How far apart do I want them to be?
  • How can I get healthy before pregnancy?

Talk about your reproductive life plan with your partner. There are no right or wrong answers and your answers may change during different times in your life. The important thing is to really think about your plan and your family before you get pregnant. On our website we give you some things to think about to help you decide whether you are ready to be a parent, both emotionally and financially.

So to all the moms out there, have a Happy Mother’s Day! And for the moms-to-be, remember, it is never too early to start planning!

Considering fertility treatment

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

coupleIf you’ve been trying to get pregnant for three or four months, keep trying. It may just take more time, even longer than you think it could. But, you may want to think about fertility treatment if you’re younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, or you’re 35 or older and have been trying to get pregnant for at least six months.

Here are some things you and your partner can do to find out if you need treatment:
• Talk to your health care provider about whether or not you need treatment.
• Learn about how things like smoking and weight affect fertility. It’s possible that you may be able to make changes in your life that will help you get pregnant without fertility treatment. Talk to your health care provider about what you can do on your own, without fertility treatment.
• Tell your health care provider about diseases and other health problems in your family.
• Keep a monthly diary of your periods. Write down the date you start and end your period each month. This will help you figure out when you ovulate.
• Have your partner get his sperm tested to make sure it’s healthy.
• Have a test to make sure your fallopian tubes are open and your uterus is a normal shape. (When your ovary releases an egg, it travels down the fallopian tube to your uterus.)

If you’ve tried various options and think it’s time to speak to a fertility specialist, read our information on when and how to find a fertility specialist and center. You’ll find information on risks and benefits, who pays for it, and more.

So you think you might be pregnant

Friday, December 13th, 2013

One of the most common questions that we get asked at askus@marchofdimes.com is “Am I pregnant?” Although we can’t answer that question, there are a few signs that indicate you might be pregnant:
•    You miss your period.
•    You feel sick to your stomach or throw up.
•    Your breasts are big and sore. The area around your nipples gets darker.
•    You crave certain foods. Or you really dislike certain foods.
•    You feel tired all the time.

Not every woman will have all of these symptoms and some women may have none of them.  Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so there is really no way for a woman to know for sure that she is pregnant just by her symptoms.  For instance, some women may think they have had a period, but they actually have experienced implantation bleeding.  Implantation bleeding occurs when the embryo attaches to the lining of your uterus. This may occur 10-14 days after fertilization. Although this spotting is usually earlier and lighter than a menstrual period, some women don’t notice the difference, and don’t even realize they’re pregnant. And many early signs of pregnancy are similar to some premenstrual signs, so it can be very confusing.

If you think you might be pregnant, the best thing to do is to take a home pregnancy test.  Home pregnancy tests are usually more accurate when your period is late – about 2 weeks after conception (getting pregnant). If they’re done too early, they may say that you’re not pregnant when you really are. This is called a false negative. That’s why it’s best to take a home pregnancy test when your period is late. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

If you’ve taken a home pregnancy test and it’s negative (shows that you’re not pregnant), you may want to take a blood pregnancy test at your health care provider’s office. A blood pregnancy test is more sensitive than a home pregnancy test that checks your urine. The blood pregnancy test can tell a pregnancy very early on.

Pregnancy tests work by looking for the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that a woman’s body makes during pregnancy. If both a blood and urine test come back negative and you still have a missed period, talk with your health care provider. Things like stress, eating habits, illness or infection can cause changes in your menstrual cycle.

Finally, if you are trying to get pregnant, and that test is negative, try not to get discouraged. Nearly 9 out of 10 couples who try to get pregnant do so within 1 year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.  You can read more about getting pregnant on our website.

Does caffeine affect fertility?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

7236819_thbSmall amounts of caffeine probably don’t reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. Most studies have found no effect on fertility when women consume less than 300 mg of caffeine a day. A few studies have found that women who consume more than 300 mg a day may be more likely to have trouble conceiving. But, again, this has not been proven. If you’re trying to get pregnant it’s better for your body if you drink water, milk and fruit juice. But, the occasional cappuccino is probably just fine. You might want to ask your doctor during your pre-pregnancy check-up what he/she thinks.

When is your body ready to get pregnant?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

You’ve thought carefully about having a baby and decided you’re ready. You stopped smoking and drinking alcohol. You’re eating a healthy diet and taking a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. You’ve visited your health care provider, and you’re putting money in your savings account each month. You’re ready to start trying to get pregnant.

A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, ovulation.  Ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of a woman’s period.  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
• The day of ovulation

The closer intercourse is to ovulation, the more likely it is you’ll get pregnant. You can track your ovulation using different methods.  And the more often you have sex, the more likely you are to get pregnant. But don’t get too anxious if it doesn’t happen right away.  On average, there is a 15-25% chance of conceiving each month.  Studies have shown that roughly half of couples trying to get pregnant conceive within four months, 75% of couples by six months, and 85% within a year.

Ladies – keep on taking those vitamins!

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

You may have seen recent news coverage about a study showing that daily multivitamins may not help prevent cancer or heart disease. But that doesn’t mean you should stop taking your multivitamins. That’s because most multivitamins have folic acid, and folic acid is known to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before the end of early pregnancy. The trouble is that most women may not even know they’re pregnant at the time when folic acid is most beneficial at preventing birth defects. That’s why it’s important that women take multivitamins before getting pregnant.

When shopping for a multivitamin, make sure it has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Once you know you’re pregnant, your health provider will give you prenatal vitamins, which have the amount of folic acid you need.

Fertility tracking methods

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

If your periods are irregular and you want to figure out the best time to try to conceive, try a fertility tracking method. They can help you determine when you’re ovulating. Talk to your health care provider about the most effective ways to use them.

The temperature method – use a basal body thermometer to take your temperature every day before you get out of bed. Your temperature will rise one degree as you ovulate. Having intercourse as close as possible to this temperature rise improves your chances of getting pregnant.

The cervical mucus method – pay attention to the mucus in your vagina. It gets thinner, slippery, clearer and increases just before ovulation

Ovulation prediction kit – Ovulation prediction kits test urine for a substance called luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone increases each month during ovulation and causes the ovaries to release eggs. The kit will tell you of your LH is increasing. You can purchase ovulation prediction kits at pharmacies.

If you use the temperature or cervical mucus method, begin tracking changes a few months before you want to conceive. If you’re using an ovulation predictor kit, begin using it about ten days after the start of your last period.

Coping with the pressure

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

So when are you two going to have a baby? That question makes, “so when are you two going to get married” seem like a walk in the park. You still haven’t unpacked your bags from the honeymoon and your MIL is already harassing you for grandchildren.  “You’re not getting any younger you know.” Thanks for the reminder! The truth is many healthy women from age 35 into their 40s can get pregnant and have healthy babies. A lot of women over 35 are in good health. But, no matter how old a woman is she should have a preconception visit with her doctor before trying to get pregnant.  It’s important to manage any conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes and discuss any medications you may be taking.  To learn more about pregnancy after 35 read the fact sheet on our website.