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- Patient Comments: Trying to Conceive - Methods
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- Patient Comments: Trying to Conceive - Causes in Men
- Patient Comments: Trying to Conceive - Infertility Causes in Women
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Quick GuideBoost Your Fertility: Ovulation Calculator, Pregnancy Planning and More
Using the calendar method to conceive
This involves recording your menstrual cycle on a calendar for eight to 12 months. The first day of your period is Day 1. Circle Day 1 on the calendar. The length of your cycle may vary from month to month. So write down the total number of days it lasts each time. Using this record, you can find the days you are most fertile in the months ahead:
- To find out the first day when you are most fertile, subtract 18 from the total number of days in your shortest cycle. Take this new number and count ahead that many days from the first day of your next period. Draw an X through this date on your calendar. The X marks the first day you're likely to be fertile.
- To find out the last day when you are most fertile, subtract 11 from the total number of days in your longest cycle. Take this new number and count ahead that many days from the first day of your next period. Draw an X through this date on your calendar. The time between the two Xs is your most fertile window.
This method always should be used along with other fertility awareness methods, especially if your cycles are not always the same length.
Using the ovulation method to conceive
The cervical mucus method (also known as the ovulation method) involves being aware of the changes in your cervical mucus throughout the month. The hormones that control the menstrual cycle also change the kind and amount of mucus you have before and during ovulation. Right after your period, there are usually a few days when there is no mucus present or "dry days." As the egg starts to mature, mucus increases in the vagina, appears at the vaginal opening, and is white or yellow and cloudy and sticky. The greatest amount of mucus appears just before ovulation. During these "wet days" it becomes clear and slippery, like raw egg whites. Sometimes it can be stretched apart. This is when you are most fertile. About four days after the wet days begin the mucus changes again. There will be much less and it becomes sticky and cloudy. You might have a few more dry days before your period returns. Describe changes in your mucus on a calendar. Label the days, "Sticky," "Dry," or "Wet." You are most fertile at the first sign of wetness after your period or a day or two before wetness begins.
The cervical mucus method is less reliable for some women. Women who are breastfeeding, taking hormonal birth control (like the pill), using feminine hygiene products, have vaginitis or sexually transmitted infections (STIs or STDs), or have had surgery on the cervix should not rely on this method.
When to see your doctor if you are having problems getting pregnant
- You are younger than 35 and have not been able to conceive after one year of frequent sex without birth control.
- You are age 35 or older and have not been able to conceive after six months of frequent sex without birth control.
- You believe you or your partner might have fertility problems in the future (even before you begin trying to get pregnant).
- You or your partner has a problem with sexual function or libido.
Happily, doctors are able to help many infertile couples go on to have babies.
What is infertility?
Some women want children but either cannot conceive or keep miscarrying. This is called infertility. Lots of couples have infertility problems. About one-third of the time, it is a female problem. In another one-third of cases, it is the man with the fertility problem. For the remaining one-third, both partners have fertility challenges or no cause is found.