Posts Tagged ‘ovulation’

How do you know when you are able to get pregnant?

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

couple with pregnancy testGetting pregnant comes easily to some women, while others have a more difficult time. It is important to know how your body works, in order to increase your chance of conception. Learning about ovulation (the release of an egg every month) is key.

Why does ovulation matter?

A woman’s ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of her period. 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.

A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release. 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

When do I ovulate?

Figuring out when you ovulate can be tricky. Some women have their menstrual cycle like clockwork, while others have no idea when their period will come. Every woman is different.

It is easier to tell when you ovulate if you have a regular cycle.

A regular period is one that comes at about the same time each month. Many women have cycles that last between 25 and 28 days, but others can have a regular cycle that lasts up to 35 days. To determine if you have a regular period, calculate your cycle length:

  • Start by counting the first day that your period begins as day one.
  • Count each day after that until you get your period again.
  • Start over with day one.

If you count for a few cycles and all your periods are about the same number of days, then you have a regular period. Not every cycle will be the exact same number of days, it can be normal to have a few days more or less each month.

If your cycle is regular: Use the March of Dimes ovulation calendar to help you figure out when you can get pregnant.

If your cycle is irregular, there are other ways you can determine when you may ovulate.

  • The temperature method: Use a basal body thermometer to take your temperature every day before you get out of bed. This is a thermometer that can measure really small changes in your temperature. You can buy one at a drug store. Your temperature rises about 1 degree just as you ovulate. Have sex as close as you can to this rise in temperature for your best chance of getting pregnant.
  • The cervical mucus method: Pay attention to the mucus in your vagina. It gets thinner, slippery, clearer and more plentiful 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 if your LH is increasing. You can purchase ovulation prediction kits at pharmacies.

How long will it take to get pregnant?

The timing is different for every woman. Generally speaking, if you have been trying for more than one year, (or six months if you are age 35 or older) you should see your health care provider. Get help along the way: schedule a preconception checkup.

Have more questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

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.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

sad-womanPolycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman’s hormones and ovaries. PCOS affects up to 7 percent of women of childbearing age and is the leading cause of female infertility. Some women learn they have PCOS when they have problems becoming pregnant.

Women with PCOS have high levels of male hormones (androgens), which may interfere with normal ovarian function. Affected women often do not ovulate regularly. PCOS also affects other bodily systems, increasing a woman’s risk for diabetes and heart disease. Signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
• Irregular or absent menstrual periods
• Ovaries containing many small cysts (fluid-filled sacs)
• Increased facial hair
• Acne
• Weight gain or obesity
• Male-pattern baldness
• Abnormal blood sugar levels or diabetes
• High blood pressure

The exact cause of PCOS is not known.  However, there are quite a few factors that may play a role:
• Genetics:  Women who have a mother or sister with PCOS, are more likely to develop PCOS.
• Hormonal imbalance: Women who have PCOS seem to make more androgens (male hormones) than women who do not have PCOS.  All women produce some male hormones, but levels that are too high may affect egg development and ovulation.
• Insulin: Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to convert sugar (glucose) to energy.  Women with PCOS tend to have too much insulin.  And excess insulin seems to result in increased androgen production.

There is no specific diagnostic test for PCOS. Diagnosis is usually based on:
• Signs and symptoms, including menstrual irregularities
• Physical examination
• Blood tests to check androgen and blood sugar levels
• Ultrasound of the ovaries

There is no cure for PCOS so the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and prevent complications.  There are a number of ways that this can be accomplished.  Women with PCOS who are overweight or obese should attempt to lose weight. Women who lose even 10 percent of their body weight can improve menstrual irregularities, lower androgen levels and reduce their risk of diabetes. Weight loss can improve fertility, as well.

Women who do not wish to become pregnant right away can take birth control pills. Birth control pills help to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce androgen levels. In some cases, metformin (Glucophage), an oral diabetes drug, may be used instead of or in addition to birth control pills. Metformin also helps reduce androgen levels and may help with weight loss.

Women who want to get pregnant and are having difficulty conceiving can be treated with medications that stimulate ovulation. If those medications are not successful, other fertility treatments can be considered.

Studies suggest that women with PCOS who become pregnant are at increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure) and premature birth. Women with PCOS should see their health care provider before pregnancy to make sure any health problems, such as diabetes, are under control, and that any medications they take are safe. When they become pregnant, they should go to all their prenatal appointments so that any complications can be diagnosed and managed before they become serious.

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.

La ovulación

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Did you know the March of Dimes offers Spanish language pregnancy videos too?

Trying but not pregnant yet?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

coupleMany couples who want to have a baby get frustrated if they don’t get pregnant right away once they start trying. If that’s you, make an effort to relax and learn more about how everything works. There are many steps you can take to help you get pregnant. For example:
• Learn how ovulation works and calculate when you’re most likely to ovulate.
• Be on the lookout for signs that you’re pregnant.
• Learn more about your and your partner’s family health history.

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 soon. 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.

If you’re thinking about fertility treatment to help you get pregnant, talk to your provider about how to get safe treatment while lowering your chance of having multiples (twins, triplets or more). Having multiples can increase the likelihood that you’ll have a premature birth. Babies born prematurely can face many serious health complications, some that can last a lifetime.

You might see ads for at-home genetic tests that provide information like if you’re a carrier of certain genetic diseases that can be passed on to a child. It’s too soon to know if and how these tests can help you during pregnancy. Talk to your health provider if you have questions.

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.

Endometriosis Awareness Month

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

My daughter has endometriosis and it has caused her a bunch of problems over the years.  She went through horribly uncomfortable periods, painful ovulation, bouts of diarrhea contrasted with constipation… For years she was not a happy camper.

Endometriosis, aside from making one feel lousy, can interfere with fertility and make having a child difficult.  Read more about endometriosis in our previous post.

My daughter ultimately had surgery to “clean up” as much unwanted tissue in her abdomen as possible.  Happily, she now has two daughters and far fewer discomforts every month.  If you have symptoms and think you may have endometriosis, talk to your doc about it.  Don’t suffer in silence.   Although you can’t get rid of it all together, there are ways of treating it.

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!

How can PCOS interfere with fertility?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormones, ability to have children, heart, blood vessels, and appearance (especially excessive hair growth). Although women do  produce small levels of androgens, sometimes called male hormones, women with PCOS  typically have high levels of androgens.  They usually have missed or irregular periods and their ovaries can be swollen with many small cysts.  It is estimated that 6 to 10% of all women of reproductive age have PCOS, and evidence suggests that it may run in some families.

A woman’s ovaries have follicles, which are tiny sacs filled with liquid that hold her eggs. These sacs also are called cysts. For most women, approximately 20 eggs start to mature every month, with only one maturing fully. As this one egg grows, the follicle accumulates fluid in it. When the egg is mature, the follicle breaks open and releases it. The egg then travels through the fallopian tube for fertilization. When the single egg leaves the follicle, ovulation takes place.

In women with PCOS, the ovary doesn’t produce all of the hormones it needs for any of the eggs to fully mature. Follicles may start to grow and build up fluid, but no one follicle becomes large enough. Instead, in some but not all women, some follicles may remain as cysts. Since no follicle becomes large enough and no egg matures or is released, ovulation does not occur and the hormone progesterone is not made. Without progesterone, a woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular or absent. Additionally, the cysts make male hormones, which also prevent ovulation.

Lack of ovulation is usually the reason for fertility problems in women with PCOS. Several medications that stimulate ovulation can help women with PCOS become pregnant. Even so, other reasons for infertility in both the woman and man should be ruled out before fertility medications are used.  Diet and weight loss are essential for overweight women.