If you are trying to have a baby and are not getting pregnant for a really long time, it can be frustrating and disheartening. Especially when so many people seem to getting pregnant with such apparent ease. Many couples feel that if they are not getting pregnant then the problem must lie with them. Women in particular will go on massive guilt trips.
Take heart. These people getting pregnant probably went through the same thing you are experiencing right now. You’re just looking at the end result of months, perhaps years, of anxious attempts.
Getting pregnant can be either easy or difficult depending on hundreds of variables that would require volumes to go into in detail. Let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding getting pregnant, the factors that can affect your fertility, and what you can do to have the odds in your favour when getting pregnant.
What Factors Affect Pregnancy?
When you are trying to get pregnant, there are some factors that will work for or against you. And this does not apply to the woman alone. It takes two to make a baby, so the factors listed below affect both partners.
Your age: The older you are, the lower your chances of easily getting pregnant. This is true for men and women. Fertility in women will begin to decrease in their early 30s as the ovaries release an egg less often, thus there are fewer opportunities for conception. For men, it happens a little later, somewhere in their late 30s. However, just because fertility is lower does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. You can alter your lifestyle to create more compatible possibilities for conception and keep trying, or you can choose to undergo one of the dozens of fertility treatments available today.
Your health: If you have suffered a long sickness or you were afflicted by a serious disease like cancer, it is very likely that your body has undergone tremendous changes that will affect your chances of getting pregnant. Even STDs have been known to mess up the reproductive system to a point where getting pregnant is impossible. Healthy people who have balanced lifestyles generally find getting pregnant a piece of cake.
Your weight: Too skinny or too fat? You’ll have a tough time getting pregnant. Changes in body weight to either extreme will affect normal ovulation and lower your chances of getting pregnant. If you’re too skinny, your body sees it as a sign of low or poor nutrition and thus makes a decision to not allow you to get pregnant. And if you are overweight, your body’s overall systems have to work harder to keep the organs in working condition and to deal with the hundreds of complications arising from obesity, so it has less time and resources to put into the functioning of your reproductive system.
Your lifestyle: If you smoke, you are radically reducing your fertility – this applies to men and women. Studies have shown time and again that smoking negatively impacts fertility. Most women will stop smoking when they get pregnant, but if you plan on a healthy pregnancy and baby then you should quit immediately.
Studies show that alcohol decreases fertility too. As do recreational drugs. Both substances inhibit the release of hormones and suppress the normal functioning of the reproductive system.
Even certain medicinal drugs will prevent you from getting pregnant easily. Anti-depressants in particular are notorious for reducing fertility in both women and men alike. If you are taking any drugs whatsoever, discuss with your doctor which ones you can continue safely taking without affecting your ability to get pregnant.
Your diet: A healthy diet will work in your favour as it will keep your organs in optimum condition and will prevent you from falling sick. But there are a couple of things you should avoid or modify in your diet to better your odds of getting pregnant.
Lower your sugar levels. High or fluctuating sugar levels can play with your nervous system and affect your body and your state of mind. As we’ll see in a moment, the latter is also important when trying to get pregnant.
Avoid certain types of fish. Studies have shown that some fish like shark, tuna, king mackerel and sword fish have high levels of mercury. In case you did not know, mercury is one of the deadliest substances on the planet. If you can cut out fish altogether, nothing like it. But if you absolutely must eat fish, try to stick to the smaller varieties like sardines. There are plenty of websites that document this research and have supporting charts about the mercury levels in all kinds of fish. So if you are planning to eat fish, consult one of these charts first.
Surprisingly, caffeine does not strongly feature on the list of foods to avoid. But that is assuming you have only two to three cups a day. If you are a caffeine-addict and have up to or more than 8 cups of coffee or tea a day, then you are reducing your chances of getting pregnant fast. Research shows that women who consume too much coffee, tea, or soda will usually take longer (more than 1 year) conceiving than women who have maybe one to two cups a day. So moderation is the key.
Your mental state: If you are a woman, then you have probably experienced a point in time when you were really stressed out with something and you didn’t get your period. In the same way, stress can affect your chances of getting pregnant too –after all, it’s a part of the same system that’s responsible for menstruation. When you are stressed and trying to get pregnant, your body will most likely not give you what you want because it reads your stress as you not being ready to take on the responsibilities of a baby at that time. So the best way to reassure your body is to treat yourself with kindness and some pampering once in awhile.
Your gadgets: Yes, those rumours are true, especially for the men. Scientific research has shown that if you habitually place your laptop on your lap while working on it, the heat and radiation from the laptop can kill protein and affect the production of sperm. So put the laptop on a desk. And this is something you should do not just when you are planning on getting pregnant but all the time. There is still no research about whether damage from laptop heat can be reversed. So better not take any chances.
Cell phones in trouser pockets can also affect sperm motility and even sperm viability. Motility refers to the movement of the sperm, how far they’re willing or able to go to fertilise an egg. And viability refers to the percentage of living sperm. So put those radiation-emitting cell phones in a briefcase or your partner’s bag. Try not having it on your person.
Myths About Getting Pregnant
Many couple who are trying to conceive have heard hundreds of myths about getting pregnant from aunts, midwives, distant cousins, recently-met acquaintances, and strangers on the street. Everyone has an opinion or suggestion about how to get pregnant. While it’s all well-meaning, most of it is a lot of hot air.
However, when you are desperate to get pregnant, you will listen to anything anyone has to say about the matter, and you will follow the advice no matter how silly it is “just in case.” And it then gets frustrating when the tips don’t work. Here are three of the most common myths about getting pregnant that have been doing the rounds for decades.
Myth 1: The position you have sex in will determine whether you get pregnant or not.
This is one of the most prevalent and untrue myths about getting pregnant that many people still believe in. Even some doctors will recommend it. But there is absolutely no basis in science for this theory. Whether you do it missionary style or try something acrobatic from the Kama Sutra, there’s nothing you can do to get more sperm into the vagina to get pregnant. Many folks also think that raising a woman’s legs after sex will keep the sperm in her vagina instead of letting it flow out. Also untrue. However, just lying there for about five minutes after sex may help.
Myth 2: The more often you have sex, the greater your chances of getting pregnant.
Couple who are trying to get pregnant will often try too hard i.e. they’ll schedule sex on their To-Do list and have sex every single day, sometimes several times a day, regardless of whether they feel like it or not, thinking that somewhere in these frequent attempts they’ll hit the mother lode. But having sex everyday can have adverse affects.
Frequent sex reduces sperm motility. In layman’s terms, the frequency of sex in a short time frame can affect the quality of the sperm, make them less ambitious, so to speak. Plus, if you plan sex on a daily basis this way simply because you want to get pregnant, you tend to view it as a chore and do not really enjoy it.
Remember that your state of mind can affect your body’s systems. So it would be more conducive to have sex when you really feel like it, and to schedule it around the days when the woman is ovulating and is thus most fertile. But even then, don’t overdo the planning and make it compulsory as it can get emotionally stressful.
Myth 3: Only women have fertility problems. Men don’t.
This is probably one of the most destructive myths. Since many people believe this to be true, men will not even have themselves tested for fertility to see if they are the problem. So instead of finding a solution, there is a stalemate. Statistics have shown that in couples that are having a hard time getting pregnant, 40% of the time it is the woman who has fertility issues, and 40% of the time it’s the man. The remaining 20% has both partners suffering from infertility. If you have been trying for a very long time (well over a year) and doing everything right and yet seem to be getting nowhere, it’s time you both get fertility tests.
How To Go About Getting Pregnant
Couples generally put off having babies for the first few years of their relationship so as to have time for each other and their careers. It is often assumed that getting pregnant is something that will happen without a hitch once he stops using a condom or when she gets off the Pill or the Depo-Provera. However, getting pregnant is a lot more than just sex without contraception.
By the time a couple chooses to have children, they are both much older and this can affect their fertility too. But this does not mean you cannot get pregnant. Simply be aware of this fact so that you do not get frustrated if your initial attempts at getting pregnant fail.
As we have seen earlier, there are quite a few things that will increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant. So the key is to manipulate those factors to your advantage.
Most couples who are getting pregnant are able to successfully do so in the first year of trying. Some couples will manage getting pregnant only in the second year, and there is a small percentage of couples who can even take up to five years or more getting pregnant. 20% of all couples will succeed in getting pregnant in the first month itself. With luck, you’ll fall into the latter category. But read on just in case.
- When you are thinking of getting pregnant, you first have to make sure that all systems are good to go. This applies to both men and women. Make an appointment with your doctor and get a full physical examination to make sure your body is healthy and will work with you in your efforts to get pregnant. Also start to eat healthy – ask your doctor for a diet plan if you are unsure what a healthy meal looks like. Also start exercising on a regular basis. You don’t have to pump iron or run for miles. Just half an hour of walking a day will do fine. Simply learn to be more active. If you are overweight or underweight, then you are going to have problems getting pregnant. So regulate your body weight first.
- Reduce your stress levels. Yes, it’s almost impossible to not be stressed at all in today’s rat race. But you can learn way to manage your stress and perhaps not undertake activities that stress you out. This will not just aid in getting pregnant more easily, it will also help you in other areas of your life.
- Try to completely eliminate drugs (medicinal and recreational), smoking and alcohol. Men in particular have fertility issues if they are smokers. With alcohol, the odd glass of wine or a beer at a get together will do once in awhile. But bingeing and hard drinking are out if you want to be successful at getting pregnant. The movies will have us believe that getting pregnant happens precisely because of sex when a girl is drunk. But this does not mean that it happens all the time or that alcohol does not make a difference to fertility levels. It probably has more to do with the fact that you are more likely to indulge in risky behaviour when you are drunk, for example, have much, much more sex without protection. Which brings us to the next point.
- A large part of getting pregnant involves having unprotected sex at the right time. Figuring out when exactly is the right time is a little tricky initially. But you’ll get the hang of it. It all has to do with the time the woman is ovulating. Ovulation is when the egg descends from the ovaries into the fallopian tube. When it is in the fallopian tube, sperm can reach the egg to fertilise it. So if you have sex around the time you are ovulating, you chances of getting pregnant obviously increase considerably.
The days of ovulation can be calculated after careful charting of the menstrual cycle. You may already have heard that ovulation occurs on the 14th day of your cycle. This is only a rough calculation, but is nevertheless a good estimate. The days of ovulation will differ from woman to woman depending on the length of her individual cycle and whether or not her periods are regular.
There are a couple of other ways besides counting through which you can determine the days of ovulation. One is to measure the basal body temperature on a daily basis with a basal body thermometer. Do this as soon as you wake up in the morning, preferably before you even get out of bed, and repeat this at the same time every day. The temperature usually rises around the time you are ovulating. Ask your doctor about basal body temperature so that you can use this handy tool in getting pregnant.
The second, less-technical method is to check the level of cervical fluid. Higher levels of cervical fluid are produced by the cervix during the days you are ovulating. You will have to check the levels for two to three months to determine what your normal levels are so that you can judge when it has increased. Cervical fluid is the sticky whitish stuff that you see on your underwear. Simply insert a finger or two into your vagina and feel the consistency of the cervical fluid or mucous.
If this is all too complicated for you, you can simply buy an ovulation detector. You pee on a stick and it tells you whether or not you are ovulating. Quite a handy little kit for getting pregnant, and much less complicated than the other methods.
Getting Pregnant: Points to remember
Note though that a woman is fertile even on the days she is not ovulating. So having sex on those days will also get her pregnant. Having sex on the days of ovulation simply increase the odds of getting pregnant. Don’t forget to have fun though. There’s no point jumping into bed in hopes of getting pregnant if you aren’t really into it. Your body may read it as stress and as we have seen, that is not the most conducive state of mind to getting pregnant.
- Do not use lubricants while having sex as the substances used in lubricants have been known to kill off sperm. If you cannot have sex without a lubricant, then buy one that is specifically made for couples trying to get pregnant. These are created with ingredients that help sperm survive.
- If you are one of those women who douche after sex, stop if you want to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Although many women can conceive even if they douche, you want to make sure that you are doing absolutely every little thing possible to keep every single sperm inside of you. While douching does not affect sperm, it does wash away cervical fluid, which is actually what helps the sperm on their way into the uterus.
- Men should ejaculate either every day or every alternate day to better their partners’ odds of getting pregnant. Have sex or masturbate – it doesn’t make a difference. Ejaculating will keep the quality of the sperm fresh. So you can be sure that only the latest supply of swimmers is making its way through the vagina when you’re having sex.
- Men should wear boxers instead of briefs. This is to keep the testicles cool. Briefs keep the genitals packed tightly together and this causes heat, which in turn can lower sperm count as we have already seen earlier from the example of the laptop. Also avoid saunas or sitting for very long periods of time if you want to succeed at getting pregnant.
- If you have been trying for over a year and you are still nowhere near getting pregnant, then there may be fertility problems in one or both partners which need to be checked out. There are generally medications prescribed to increase fertility. And if that doesn’t work, you can opt for in-vitro fertilisation or IVF, a method that involves injecting the woman’s egg with the man’s sperm in a test-tube, and then implanting the fertilised egg in the woman. There are breakthroughs made in fertility treatments almost every day. So one way or another, you will get help in getting pregnant.
- And finally, the most important tip of all – be patient and don’t make your sex life a chore. Let things work out on their own. Follow these tips and leave the rest to the powers that be.