Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive

Trying to conceive facts*

*Trying to conceive facts medically edited by:

  • If you are trying to conceive, the first step is to be aware of your menstrual cycle and changes that happen to your body during that time.
  • It helps to know when you are fertile. There are three ways to track your fertile times: 1) basal body temperature method, 2) Calendar method, and 3) Cervical mucus method (ovulation method).
  • Some women experience miscarriages or pregnancy losses, or cannot conceive at all (infertility).
  • Causes of infertility include age, health problems (both men and women), and lifestyle factors.
  • There are several options for infertile couples including drugs, surgery, intrauterine insemination (artificial insemination), assisted reproductive technology, third party assistance, adoption, and foster care.

Fertility Awareness

The Menstrual Cycle

Being aware of your menstrual cycle and the changes in your body that happen during this time can help you know when you are most likely to get pregnant. See how the menstrual cycle works below.

  • Day 1 starts with the first day of your period. This occurs after hormone levels drop at the end of the previous cycle, signaling blood and tissues lining the uterus (womb) to break down and shed from the body. Bleeding lasts about 5 days.
  • Usually by Day 7, bleeding has stopped. Leading up to this time, hormones cause fluid-filled pockets called follicles to develop on the ovaries. Each follicle contains a potential egg.
  • Between Day 7 and 11, one follicle will continue to develop and reach maturity. The lining of the uterus starts to thicken, waiting for a fertilized egg to implant there. The lining is rich in blood and nutrients.
  • Around Day 14 (in a 28-day cycle), hormones cause the mature follicle to burst and release an egg from the ovary, a process called ovulation.
  • Over the next few days, the egg travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If a sperm unites with the egg here, the fertilized egg will continue down the fallopian tube and attach to the lining of the uterus.
  • If the egg is not fertilized, hormone levels will drop around Day 25. This signals the next menstrual cycle to begin. The egg will break apart and be shed with the next period.

The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. But normal cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days. The amount of time before ovulation occurs is different in every woman and even can be different from month to month in the same woman, varying from 13 to 20 days long. Learning about this part of the cycle is important because it is when ovulation and pregnancy can occur. After ovulation, every woman (unless she has a health problem that affects her periods or becomes pregnant) will have a period within 14 to 16 days.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/2/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Methods Question: What methods have you used to try to conceive?
Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with trying to conceive.
Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Age Question: How old were you and your partner when you began trying to conceive? At what point did you seek treatment?
Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Health Problems Question: Please discuss any health issues that might have affected your ability to conceive, including treatment.
Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Infertility Causes Question: What was the cause(s) of your infertility? Please discuss any treatments you tried to conceive.
Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive - Adoption Question: Did you choose adoption after you were you unable to conceive? Please share your experience.
Infertility Questions

Ten Infertility Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Be sure to take along the records of any diagnostic studies and/or fertility treatmentsyou may have had in the past if you are visiting a new fertility specialist. If you have been keeping records of the dates of your menstrualcycles and/or basal body temperature charts, take these along too. Also, print this and take it with you to your doctor visit.

  1. What is my diagnosis, and how does this condition specifically interfere with fertility? Does my partner have a condition that interferes with fertility? Will these conditions worsen over time, improve, or remain constant?
  1. If the reason for my infertility is unclear, what diagnostic tests do you recommend? What is the likelihood that each of these tests will establish a diagnosis? Are there any risks associated with the testing? Does my partner need additional testing?
  1. What type of treatment would you recommend trying first? Does this treatment involve surgery, medications, or both? What are the risks of treatment?
  1. In your practice, how often does this treatment result in pregnancy? (Be sure to determine whether your doctor is talking about pregnancyrates or live-birth rates when discussing specific treatments so you can make adequate comparisons. For example, a treatment may have a 30% pregnancy rate per cycle but only a 25% live-birth rate due to early miscarriages.)

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