Pregnancy: Trying to Conceive

Infertility Questions

Ten Questions About Infertility to Ask Your Doctor

Print this out 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?

Quick GuideBoost Your Fertility: Ovulation Calculator, Pregnancy Planning and More

Boost Your Fertility: Ovulation Calculator, Pregnancy Planning and More

Trying to conceive facts*

*Trying to conceive facts medically edited by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • 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.

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