While some women conceive and fall pregnant quickly and easily, for many women the process can be frustratingly slow and painfully emotional – after all, the big moment should be coming to the decision that you’re ready for a baby – not the mechanics of how you’re actually going to fall pregnant.
You can make conception more likely if you fully understand how your own body and that of your partners works, so that your chances of conceiving as a great as possible.
Sperm and egg basics
- An egg will survive for 12 to 24 hours after release from the ovary so fertilisation is possible during this period after ovulation if sperm enter the uterus at this time, though it is more likely that the egg will be fertilised by sperm already in the fallopian tube.
- While sperm can survive for up to six days in the uterus before ovulation, it is most likely that they’ll survive only one to three days before ovulation to fertilise an egg.
- You have a greater chance of conceiving if you time having sex one to three days before ovulation.
- Ovulation phase
- Physical ovulation signs
- Ovulation prediction kits
- Follow your ovulation cycle using Kidspot’s ovulation calculator
You can increase your chances of conception by:
Counting the days
If your menstrual cycle is regular, counting the days of your cycle can help you identify your fertile days. For example, a in a 28 day cycle, your fertile period will fall between days 12 and day 16 when you ovulate. This means that theoretically you could conceive between day 6 and day 17, though it’s more likely to occur between days 9 and 15.
Observing mucous changes
Your cervical mucous changes during your fertile period becoming more slippery, wet and clear – it’s often described as having the look and feel of uncooked egg whites – indicating ovulation.
Avoiding ejaculation in the days leading up to your fertile period
To optimise conception, your partner should ideally avoid ejaculation for 2 -3 days before your fertile period to increase his sperm count.
Avoiding additional lubricants during sex
Additional lubricants may have a detrimental effect on sperm motility so it’s best to avoid them while you’re trying to get pregnant.
Orgasming during sex
If you orgasm before – or at the same time as – your partner ejaculates, the alkaline secretions in your uterus and vagina increase, and this helps sperm motility. The uterine contractions that occur during orgasm also help to move the sperm up towards your fallopian tubes where most fertilisation occurs.
Choosing a sexual position that encourages deep penetration
Deep penetration of the penis into the vagina during sex enables more sperm to move beyond the acidity of the vagina – where a lot of sperm ‘die off’ – and directly into the fertile cervical mucous.
Keeping the penis in the vagina post-ejaculation
Leaving the penis in the vagina until it goes soft after ejaculation can help aid conception
Letting gravity do the work
After sex, you can increase your chances of conception by lying flat for half an hour after sex – by getting up and moving around immediately, the sperm in your vagina will start to leak out without ever reaching the fertile cervical mucous. To further help gravity, you may wish to elevate your hips slightly by sliding a pillow in under your bottom.
Being in the healthy weight range
Being overweight or underweight has a dramatic effect on your fertility so ensure that you are in the healthy weight range for your height by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise to maximise your chances of conception.
Follow a pre-pregnancy diet to aid healthy conception
With each menstrual cycle, a normal, healthy, fertile couple have about a 20% chance of falling pregnant – this percentage begins to decrease if you are over 35 years – so it’s completely normal for fertile couples to take up to 12 months to fall pregnant while having unprotected sex during your fertile period each month.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot NZ, New Zealand’s parenting resource.