Pregnancy - How to Get Pregnant

Some women decide they want to have a baby and miraculously, about nine months down the road, they do. For others, the process isn't quite that simple. On the surface the equation seems to only require a man, a woman and a little alone time, but the truth is there is more to getting pregnant than a romantic evening of wining, dining and romance.

While it is a harsh reality that not every woman will be able to physically procreate, there are some tips and tricks others can use to make the time between desiring to have a baby and actually having one go a little more smoothly. The more information a couple is armed with, the better. The fact is it's not always easy to conceive.

The first thing to keep in mind is that pregnancy is a percentage game, so to say. Getting pregnant is like hitting the lottery. Although it might seem like an easy thing to do, the fact is the chances of managing to get pregnant in any single cycle are fairly slim. The best-case scenario sets the odds at about 20 percent, and that's when fertility time is isolated and taken advantage of.

Though it seems rather simple to create a baby, there are very complex processes going on inside a woman's body and a man's. When everything aligns correctly, the chances for conception increase. When things aren't quite as they should be or the timing is off slightly, the chances decrease. Where one woman might get pregnant on the first attempt, another might have to endure numerous cycles and monthly disappointment to accomplish the goal. The circumstances for both the man and the woman have to be right for a pregnancy to occur.

More Tips and Secrets

Beyond making sure the basic components are in place - a man, a woman and a romantic evening - there are things a woman can do to help put the odds in her favor. As long as both partners are fertile, the road to becoming pregnant will very likely lead to the destination. How long that road will take to travel depends on a number of circumstances.

Understanding the biology behind conception can help take some of the pressure off. When the science and math is looked at, even a woman who finds herself disappointed at the start of her fourth menstrual cycle since making the decision to have a baby should take a little comfort. Biology aside, it's also helpful to understand some of the roadblocks that can get in the way of pregnancy and the myths that need to be busted and their advice avoided.

When two people decide to have a baby, it can be a miraculous time in a relationship. Going from Point A to Point B, might take a little time, however. As long as both people are fertile and healthy, the end result likely will be achieved, but knowledge and a few tricks of the trade can help make arriving at the destination a whole lot easier.

Tips for Getting Pregnant

For some women, conceiving can be as easy as tossing out their contraception, whether they're working on their first baby or their fourth. For others, reaching the goal of fertilization becomes a nightly chore, a mad mating dance that revolves around ovulation kits, specific sexual positions, and, more and more commonly, a succession of fertility tests to help pinpoint possible problems.
Whether you've just started trying to become pregnant or have been at it for a while, heeding some common sense advice that's based on good science can help boost your odds of conceiving. Here, noted fertility experts from around the country have outlined the do's, don'ts, and don't-bother-withs of getting pregnant.

Have sex frequently.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but given many couples' hectic schedules, it's easy to overlook this one. If you're not timing your cycles or you have irregular periods, you can cover your bases by having sex every other day, say fertility specialists.

Figure out when you ovulate.

Women with very regular 28-day cycles can just count 14 days from the first day of their period to determine their ovulation date. If your cycles aren't regular (or even if they are), an ovulation kit can help you pinpoint your most fertile time.
Most ovulation kits measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH), one of the hormones that signals the ovaries to release an egg, present in your urine. LH begins to surge around 36 hours before you ovulate, but most kits don't detect it until 24 hours prior. A woman with a 28-day cycle should start testing her urine on day nine or ten after the start of her period so she doesn't miss her surge.
A new palm-size, electronic device called ClearPlan Easy measures LH and estrogen levels, and can signal ovulation up to five days in advance.
Monitoring cervical mucus is another way to track ovulation. "It's not as reliable as a kit," says Sandra Carson, M.D., professor of ob-gyn at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, "but it doesn't cost anything." This method involves checking your secretions for a few months until you notice a pattern. Estrogen causes mucus to thin after your period, while rising levels of progesterone right after ovulation make it thicken. Once you pinpoint when you ovulate, you can plan to have sex several times leading up to that day.
The drawbacks: Many women find this method inconvenient or inaccurate since such factors as nursing and antihistamines, even fertility drugs, can dry up mucus.
Charting your basal body temperature is useful for figuring out when you ovulate. "Your temperature usually dips by half a degree 24 hours before you ovulate; then it goes up as you ovulate," says Pette Zarmakoupis, M.D., an ob-gyn and director of the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine, in Lexington. But since basal body temperature can be thrown off by a number of things, such as illness, don't rely on it alone.

Step up sex before ovulation.

As soon as you pick up a hormonal surge, have sex that day, plus the next two days. Pregnancy rates peak two days before ovulation, says Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D., chief of biostatistics at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Some experts speculate that's when cervical mucus is at its optimum for helping sperm travel to the egg and break down its shell-like coating.
Sperm can live inside the uterus for 24 to 48 hours, which means there will be plenty on hand to greet the egg once ovulation starts.
Another reason to have sex before you ovulate, as opposed to the day it happens: An egg survives for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, so if you begin to ovulate in the morning and wait until nighttime to have sex, the egg may lose its viability by the time the sperm gets to it. In addition, says Dr. Zarmakoupis, cervical mucus starts to become thick and impenetrable right after ovulation, rendering it "hostile" to the passage of sperm.

Enjoy yourself.

"The most important thing to remember is to keep sex fun," says Felicia Stewart, M.D., coauthor of Understanding Your Body: Every Woman's Guide to Gynecology and Health. When it becomes a chore, it's easy to view sex as just one more item on your to-do list.

Give it time.

Barring fertility problems and other conditions or habits that can interfere with conception, half of all couples get pregnant within six months, says Dr. Stewart, and 85 percent do so within a year.