Your How to Get Pregnant Guide: Getting Pregnant

You are here! You have made the choice to try to conceive. Your motherhood journey begins now, mama. We will be with you every step of the way. But first: Do you know how it works? If what you remember from sex ed class is a little fuzzy, we’ve got you. Brushing up on the basics of your menstrual cycle can help you better pinpoint your ovulation window and time sex accordingly.

And just like preparing for any major life change, there are steps to take before you start to increase your chances of getting pregnant, such as prioritizing your and your partner’s health. (Yes, sperm health also plays a big role in getting pregnant.)

Finally, we’ll get into some myths about conception—providing A’s to all your Q’s. Plus, how to handle the two-week wait, or the time between conception and when you can take a pregnancy test, with tips from doctors and moms who’ve been there. Remember, you are not alone.

Are you planning a pregnancy? Get familiar with your menstrual cycle

Understanding your menstrual cycle is key when trying to conceive. Sure, you already know how babies are made, but identifying your ovulation window (it’s different for everyone!) means you can effectively time sex to ensure sperm are there to meet the egg when it arrives.

Getting an idea of ​​the process of how your body makes a baby now can alleviate any confusion and frustration that may arise before you get too far down the line.

Read more: The real chance of getting pregnant each month

The menstrual cycle consists of two interacting and overlapping cycles: one happens in the ovaries and one in the uterus. You can only get pregnant when an egg is released, known as ovulation. But here’s the kicker: Depending on when that egg is released, it could be during any part of those overlapping cycles. Which means, yes, you can technically get pregnant on your period. (We know, we know!).

The phases of the menstrual cycle:

The ovaries are controlled by the follicular phase and luteal phase; the uterus is governed by the period, proliferative phase and secretory phase.

Menstruation: The period, which is the normal shedding of the uterine lining (endometrium) and blood through the cervix and vagina, usually lasts 5 to 8 days.

Follicular phase: The time between the first day of your period and when the egg is released from the ovaries during ovulation, which usually lasts between 10 and 22 days.

Proliferative phase: During this phase, the uterine lining will build up again in preparation to house an egg, should it be fertilized.

Ovulation: The act of an egg being released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of the cycle, usually 13 to 15 days before menstruation.

Luteal phase: The time after ovulation, in which the body begins to produce more progesterone to prepare for a possible pregnancy. This is the time when typical PMS symptoms can strike.

Secretory phase: In the uterus, the endometrium will begin to secrete chemicals to either support a pregnancy or begin to break down the lining for shedding during the period.

Read more: What is a menstrual cycle? (and 7 other things to know about your period while TTC)

Next: Start tracking your ovulation

Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, knowing where you are in your cycle can make it much easier to understand your mood, energy levels, and other factors—and give you a better look at what’s really going on with you. body.

Using an app or a period journal can make recording your symptoms pretty seamless, but to get the most accurate look at your ovulation status, you may want to use an ovulation test kit or ovulation tracker.

Related: This little device is clutch if you are trying to conceive

You’ll also want to pay attention to the following three markers when looking for signs of ovulation:

  • Cervical mucus: The consistency of your vaginal mucus can help decipher when you’re ovulating.
  • Cervical position: If your cervix feels higher, softer and more open, it may mean you are ovulating.
  • Basal body temperature: Taking your basal body temperature each day can help pinpoint the narrower ovulation window when an egg has dropped, as your body temperature will rise very slightly just after ovulation.

Read more: 8 signs of ovulation: How to find your most fertile days

Take time to assess your preconception lifestyle habits

Now is also a good time to do a checkup on your general health—and your partner’s health. After all, it takes two to make a baby, right? Male health related to fertility is often overlooked and underestimated – but it is just as important. Ideally, you’ll start implementing these lifestyle changes at least 3 to 6 months before you start trying to conceive, but don’t worry if you don’t have that much time. Just start taking those prenatals as soon as possible!

Read more: Are you trying to get pregnant? 6 Important Career Moves to Make Now

How to get pregnant

This is the part you’ve been waiting for. Finished? Here’s how to make a baby.

If you’re trying to get pregnant through sex, and you’re not tracking ovulation, have sex every other day for the entire month.

If you’re tracking ovulation, and your partner has an average or high sperm count, you can have sex every day in your fertile window.

If they have a low sperm count, you should have sex every other day to increase the sperm concentration in the ejaculate (your provider can help you determine your partner’s sperm count)

Our quick and dirty guide to getting pregnant spells it all out step by step.

Don’t miss these tips they definitely don’t teach in sex ed.

Plus, we’re debunking the myths about conception sex, like whether certain sex positions are more likely to help you get pregnant (hint: no.).

Read more: Conception guide for LGBTQ families, from choosing a donor to tracking your cycle

What to know about the two week wait

Once your fertile window is over, the waiting game begins. Wondering how soon you can take a pregnancy test? Or what are your actual chances of getting pregnant each month? You will usually have to wait two weeks between when you had sex and when your hormone levels will be high enough to be detected by a home pregnancy test.

We know you’re probably questioning every new symptom that pops up for a sign that you might be pregnant, but to help you get your head around things (unlikely, we know), here’s a list of what to do while waiting for fortnight.

Learn more about what baby can do between conception and a positive pregnancy test.

Read more: What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?

Define fertility challenges

Because fertility struggles are so common, we’d be remiss not to talk about what happens if you don’t get pregnant right away. Know that 15% of couples may have trouble conceiving, and that help, ranging from your OB-GYN to specialists, is out there. Here is how infertility is defined in the medical community:

  • For those under 35, infertility is defined as an inability to conceive after a year of trying to conceive.
  • For those over 35, infertility can be diagnosed after six months of unsuccessful attempts to conceive.

However, it is empowering to know that infertility is not just a woman’s health issue and that no, nothing happens to your eggs the day you turn 35. If you’re concerned about your chances of conceiving, talk to your OB-GYN, who can help answer your questions or recommend a reproductive endocrinologist to perform more in-depth fertility testing.

Read more: 12 signs you may be struggling with fertility, according to experts

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can you get pregnant with birth control?

Yes. Oral contraception is about 90% to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, which means there’s a small chance you could get pregnant if you don’t use an additional form of protection during sex, such as a barrier method. As for whether hormonal contraceptives will affect future fertility, there may be a temporary delay in your ability to conceive, but this should quickly reverse itself. If you have more concerns, talk to your doctor.

Read more: Wait, you can get pregnant with birth control?

Q. Can you get pregnant on your period?

Yes. It’s unlikely, but not impossible. Because sperm can survive in your vagina for up to 5 days, if you have sex near the end of your period and then ovulate 4 or 5 days later, you can eventually get pregnant.

Read more: Can you get pregnant with your period? Yes, here’s how

Q. When should you start taking prenatal vitamins?

In an ideal world, you would start taking prenatal vitamins at least three to 12 months before you want to try to conceive. This gives your body time to start building up nutrients for optimal egg quality (eggs mature every three months) and to support a growing fetus. At least one month before conception, start taking prenatal vitamins, which can help ensure that there is enough folic acid in your body for neural development of the fetus, which occurs very early in pregnancy—in the first four to six weeks of pregnancy.

Read more: I’m a nutritionist: Here are my 5 favorite prenatal vitamins

Are you trying to get pregnant? Find our favorite products for your new journey in the Motherly Shop.

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