by Dr Agilan Arjunan, Fertility Specialist, KL Fertility Centre (Malaysia)
How To Improve My Chances of Getting Pregnant
Treatment options for infertility can not guarantee a 100% success. However, YOU and your partner can help to improve the success rate. Every effort and step to achieving your goal of holding your little sunshine is worth trying. There are some aspects where the male and female partners can play a role.
- Knowing your most fertile period ( fertile window).
Fertile window is the time in the month when the women is most likely to become pregnant. This window is usually the 6 days interval ending on the day of ovulation. Ovulation occurs about 14-days prior to next period , so in a woman with 28-days period cycle, ovulation occurs on day 14 of her menses (Day-1 is when the woman starts to bleed).
2. Knowing when you will ovulate (releasing the egg into the Fallopian tube).
The knowledge of when you might ovulate will help you increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally. Methods you can use are:
a) Cervical mucous changes: Cervical mucous and vaginal discharge will increase 5-6 days prior to ovulation and peaks 2-3 days before ovulation. When you are nearing ovulation, cervical mucous will be more abundant, takes on a more raw-egg-white-like consistency. It will also be more stretchy in between your fingers. This method is easy to do and also helps you know your body better.
b) Basal body temperature: Your body temperature will increase by 0.1 – 0.2 degree celcius once you have ovulated. You need to measure your body temperature everyday at the same time before your are up from your bed and chart it. If your body temperature rises, it indicates that you HAVE OVULATED. It means that this method tell you that ovulation had happened, it does not predict ovulation.
c) Urine Test for ovulation: There are commercial test kits available to test your urine for ovulation. It measures a hormone called Lutenizing Hormone (LH) , a hormone that helps ovulation. The LH hormone peaks in the body about 2 days prior to ovulation. When the LH hormone level is peaks in the body, it is measured in the urine. A positive test indicates that ovulation may occur in 24-48 hours.
d) Other general signs :
i) Increased sexual drive . This is nature’s way of telling you when you are fertile. However, sexual drive can also be provoked by many other factors.
ii) Breast tenderness: It can occur just before or after ovulation. Just like increased sexual drive, breast tenderness can be due to other reasons such as it can occur just before menstruation.
iii) Position of your cervix: Cervix is also known as neck of womb. Cervix, at the time you are not fertile, is easily felt vaginally, firm and closed. During fertile period, cervix will move higher, soft and open. Some says it feels firm like tip of your nose when you are not fertile and soft like your lips when fertile. Cervix is felt by inserting your clean middle or index finger gently into vagina. Find a comfortable position to do this such as sitting on a toilet bowl, equating or placing one leg up on the edge of a toilet seat.
3. General health.
You must make sure that you are healthy enough before a pregnancy. If you have any underlying illnesses such as Diabetes Mellitus or high blood pressure, make sure it is well controlled. Uncontrolled illnesses not only makes it difficult to get pregnant, but you run a higher risk of complication during pregnancy. You should also take pre-conception vitamins such as folic acid. You should stop smoking and stop consumption of any recreational drugs (ie marijuana, cocaine).
4. Give more time.
Sometime, just giving a little more time is all what you may need. Generally, after 1 year of trying to conceive, 80% of couple will succeed. If given another year , 90% of couples will succeed. However, pregnancy rate reduces in older women and men.
5. Timed sexual intercourse.
Research has shown that increasing the frequency of sexual intercourse may improve your chances. You should have sex every 1-2 days during your fertile period.
6. Watch your diet.
You should aim to maintain an ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) of 24kg/m2 or less, if possible. Obesity and being underweight has been shown to have adverse effect on fertility. Foods high in Mercury ( seafood such as shark, swordfish and king mackerel) can reduce fertility. Heavy alcohol and caffeine intake are also shown to affect fertility.
7. Does sex position matters?
Well, this a question that has been asked time and again. Research did not find any relation between sex position and fertility. Resting on bed after sex are also not shown to affect fertility. However, usage of certain lubricants can reduce your fertility due to their chemical contents.