Trying to get conceive, or become pregnant can be challenging, frustrating, and an emotional rollercoaster for some couples. A couple can chart their progress, which may ultimately lead to a successful healthy pregnancy, or, when necessary, lead to discussions with a fertility specialist. If you're a woman, be aware of your menstrual cycle, and you can track when you are fertile during the month using the:
- Basal body temperature method
- Calendar method
- Ovulation method (cervical mucus)
About 10% of women in the US have problems getting pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy full term. Both men and women can have fertility problems. In fact, men and women each contribute about 1/3 when it comes to fertility problems. The other 1/3 are caused by a mixture of problems with both men and women or other problems that aren't identifiable.Read more: Getting Pregnant (Tips for Trying to Conceive) Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
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Related Disease Conditions
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Ectopic Pregnancy (Tubal Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy located outside the inner lining of the uterus. The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include abdominal pain, lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea), vaginal bleeding, fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy include observation, medication, or surgery.
Endometriosis implants are most commonly found on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus or intestines, and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity. They also can be found in the vagina, cervix, and bladder. Endometriosis may not produce any symptoms, but when it does the most common symptom is pelvic pain that worsens just prior to menstruation and improves at the end of the menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, pain with pelvic examinations, cramping or pain during bowel movements or urination, and infertility. Treatment of endometriosis can be with medication or surgery.
Miscarriage is the medical term for the spontaneous loss of pregnancy from conception to 20 weeks gestation. Risk factors for a woman having a miscarriage include cigarette smoking, older maternal age, radiation exposure, previous miscarriage, maternal weight, illicit drug use, use of NSAIDs, and trauma or anatomical abnormalities to the uterus. There are five classified types of miscarriage: 1) threatened abortion; 2) incomplete abortion; 3) complete abortion; 4) missed abortion; and (5 septic abortion. While there are no specific treatments to stop a miscarriage, a woman's doctor may advise avoiding certain activities, bed rest, etc. If a woman believes she has had a miscarriage, she needs to seek prompt medical attention.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal problem that causes women to have a variety of symptoms including irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity, and excess hair growth. Treatment of PCOS depends partially on the woman's stage of life and the symptoms of PCOS.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Turner syndrome is an inherited chromosomal condition affecting women. Women with Turner syndrome do not have ovarian function, and features of the syndrome include webbed neck, lymphedema of the hands and feet, heart defects, kidney problems, and skeletal abnormalities. The X chromosome is related to Turner syndrome. Treatment focuses on the symptoms of the syndrome.
Pregnancy and Drugs (Prescription and OTC)
Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements should be discussed with your doctor. There are some medications that have been found to cause no problems in pregnancy, however, medications such as Accutane for acne, should never be taken during pregnancy.
Heartburn during Pregnancy
Heartburn during pregnancy is quite common. During pregnancy the lower esophageal sphincter muscle becomes weakened , which likely occurs due to the effect of the high levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy. Fortunately, this resolves after pregnancy. Management of heartburn during pregnancy are generally involves lifestyle changes and avoiding foods that promote heartburn, for example, don't smoke, avoid tight clothing, eat small, frequent meals, chew gum, or sip liquids. The effect of heartburn medications on the fetus is unknown, so it is best to check with your OB/GYN if you feel you need medication to treat heartburn.
Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus)
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the womb (uterus). Most uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms; however, if the fibroid is large enough and in the right location, it may cause symptoms of pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and pressure on the bladder or rectum. Uterine fibroids that remain small and do not grow usually do not need treatment; however, surgery to remove the fibroid may be necessary. Uterine fibroids do not cause cancer; however, there is a rare, fast-growing cancerous called leiomyosarcoma.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Infertility is the diminished ability to conceive a child. Infertility can be a problem with both men and women. Infertility in men can be caused by medical conditions, unhealthy habits, and toxins from the environment. Infertility in women can be caused by problems with ovarian function, the Fallopian tubes, or the physical characteristics of the uterus. Methods of conceiving for couples that cannot conceive include intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), specific drugs, assisted reproductive technology (ART), surgery, and gestational carrier.
Sexual health information including birth control, impotence, herpes, sexually transmitted diseases, staying healthy, women's sexual health concerns, and men's sexual health concerns. Learn about the most common sexual conditions affecting men and women.
Female Reproductive System
The female reproductive system is designed to carry out several functions, including: producing the female egg cells, conception, and producing female sex hormones that maintain the reproductive cycle. During menopause the female reproductive system gradually stops making the female hormones necessary for the reproductive cycle to work. Some of the important parts of the female reproductive anatomy include the: uterus, ovaries, vagina, cervix, urethra, and vaginal opening.
Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnant women marked by high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. Eclampsia occurs when preeclampsia goes untreated. Eclampsia can cause coma and death of the mother and baby. Preeclampsia symptoms include rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, headaches, blood in the urine, dizziness, and excessive vomiting and nausea. The only real cure for preeclampsia and eclampsia is the birth of the baby.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)
When a woman is pregnant she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include: Holistic pregnancy diet Vegan or vegetarian diet Low-carb diets Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health-care professional.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)
When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a type of hypothyroidism, and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US. Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis may include dry skin, fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, excessive sleepiness, dry skin, dry coarse hair, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the front of the throat, muscle cramps, mood changes, vague aches and pains, problems concentrating, leg swelling, constipation, and depression. There is no cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Diet changes, natural supplements, vitamins, or other natural products will not treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Treatment for the autoimmune disorder is with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which will be necessary for the rest of the person’s life.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from AIDS, among women. The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include: fever, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, abdominal pain, including pain during intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and related structures and lead to ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious consequences. Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes several types of antibiotics.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs
Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Menstruation (Menstrual Cycle)
Menstruation (menstrual cycle) is also referred to as a "period." When a woman menstruates, the lining of the uterus is shed. This shedding of the uterine linking is the menstrual blood flow. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. There can be problems with a woman's period, including heavy bleeding, pain, or skipped periods. Causes of these problems may be amenorrhea (lack of a period), menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), or abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding. There are a variety of situations in which a girl or woman should see a doctor about her menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy Changes and Body Discomforts
Pregnancy can bring challenges like weight gain, stretch marks, varicose veins, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, problems sleeping, and wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant. Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in water, soil, and the air. Mercury also is contained in some fish, some of the products we use in the home, school, or dentist. Mercury poisoning can cause cognitive problems, dermatitis, tremor and other symptoms. Information about sources of mercury exposure, potential health effects, symptoms of exposure, fish that may contain mercury, consumer products that contain mercury, and ways to reduce your exposure to mercury is important for the health of you, and your family.
Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POF, Premature Ovarian Failure, POI)
Primary ovarian iInsufficiency (POF, Premature Ovarian Failure, POI) is the cessation of normal functioning of the ovaries in women under the age of 40. Premature ovarian failure may be caused by follicle depletion or dysfunction. The most common symptom of premature ovarian failure are irregular periods. There is no "treatment" that will restore the ovarian function, but there are treatments that my relieve symptoms.
Amenorrhea (including hypothalmic amenorrhea) is a condition in which there is an absence of menstrual periods in a woman. There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary. Treatment of amenorrhea depends on the type. In primary, surgery may be an option and in secondary amenorrhea medication or lifestyle changes may be treatment options. We go over the definition of amenorrhea, causes, and treatment options for amenorrhea.
Pregnancy: Swine Flu and the H1N1 Vaccine
Pregnant and women who are breastfeeding are encouraged to receive the seasonal flu shot as well as the 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) vaccine. H1N1 flu is treated with the medications Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) or Relenza® (zanamivir). Pregnant women should not receive the H1N1 attenuated nasal spray vaccine. Possible side effects of the H1N1 flu vaccine include muscle aches, fever, nausea, tiredness, or headache.
Shingles and Pregnancy
Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also cause problems for your unborn child. If you are pregnant and haven't had chickenpox, avoid exposure to infected people. Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, can reduce the incidence of shingles by half. Women should wait at least three months after receiving the vaccine before trying to get pregnant.
Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, low birth weight or premature birth, and more. Secondhand smoke also increases your baby's risk of developing: lung cancer, heart diseases, emphysema, asthma, allergies, and SIDS.
Bleeding During Pregnancy (First Trimester)
Bleeding during pregnancy is never normal. Causes of bleeding during the first trimester of a pregnancy may be caused by implantation bleeding, ectopic or tubal pregnancy, subchorionic hemorrhaging, infections, and miscarriage. Bleeding during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can be caused by a variety of factors.
Doula vs. Midwife (Differences between Care, Costs, & Duties)
A midwife and doula are not the same thing. A doula's job is to provide non-medical, emotional, and personal support to a woman throughout her pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum experience. A certified nurse midwife is a medical health care professional that manages the overall general health of the mother and baby; for example, performs exams, orders laboratory tests, and procedures, and performs fetal monitoring from the pregnant woman's first prenatal visit to post-partum and aftercare. A midwife can deliver the baby, whereas a doula cannot. A midwife usually tries to minimize the use of unnecessary technological interventions. A midwife cannot perform C-sections, use vacuums or forceps during labor and delivery. Midwives generally work with an Obstetrician (a doctor that specializes in pregnancy, birth, and women's reproductive health) when medical intervention by a specialist is necessary. A doula does not require a medical degree, but requires certification in some states. Certification for nurse-midwife in the US requires a certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Entrance into the AMCB program requires a Bachelor's Degree and a licensed RN degree. AMBC certification is a Master's Degree program.REFERENCES: Government of the District of Columbia. "Municipal Regulations for Nurse-Midwives." Oregon Health Authority.gov. "Utilizing Doulas to Improve Birth Outcomes for Underdeserved Women in Oregon." Feb 22, 2012. American College of Nurse-Midwives. "Become a Midwife." AMCB.org.
Embryo vs. Fetus (Differences Between Stages Week by Week)
The embryonic stage of pregnancy occurs from the moment of conception until the 11th week pregnancy, or first trimester. During this time the embryo develops major body structures, for example, the organs, heart, and main blood vessels. At this stage the baby's heart begins to beat. The fetal stage, or second trimester is next, and begins during the 11th week of pregnancy, and continues through to week #40. During this time the baby's organs and structures continue to develop, the fetus' gender can be identified, and fetal movement begins. The fetus is about 2 pounds by the 27th week. During the third trimester the baby is the size, and has the characteristics of a newborn. The greatest risk of miscarriage is during the very early stages of pregnancy before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
Conjoined twins are identical twins. In both types of twins, the embryo is supposed to separate during the first two weeks after conception; however, in conjoined twins the embryo does not separate in two. The types of conjoined twins are based on the location of the fusion, and include thoracopagus or xiphopagus, omphalopagus, craniopagus, parapagus, pygopagus, ischiopagus, and rachipagus or rachiopagus. The possibility of surgery for separation, prognosis, and life expectancy of conjoined twins depend on the type.
How Soon Can I Take A Pregnancy Test After a Missed Period?
You may take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss a period or if your period is late. You would know the date of your missed period if your periods are regular. If your periods are irregular, or you do not have periods for some reason, you can do a pregnancy test at least three weeks after having sexual intercourse.
When Can You Find Out How Many Weeks Pregnant You Are?
A woman can find out how many weeks pregnant she is at any time during pregnancy. There are several ways to calculate how many weeks pregnant a woman is and the estimated due date or estimated date of delivery (EDD). Some ways are more accurate than others.
Local ResourcesFind a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- bromocriptine (Parlodel)
- clomiphene, Clomid
- folic acid (folate, vitamin B9, FA-8, Folacin, Folic Acid, GNC Folic Acid 400, and many more)
- progesterone vaginal gel (Crinone, Endometrin)
- choriogonadotropin alfa - injection, Ovidrel
- follitropin beta - injection, Follistim
- follitropin alfa - injection, Gonal-F
- gonadotropins, chorionic - intramuscular, Chorex, Pregnyl
- norethindrone (Nor QD, Nora-BE, Ortho Micronor)
- Biologics (Biologic Drug Class)
- Prenatal Vitamins (Side Effects and Types)
Prevention & Wellness
- Science Not Yet Advanced Enough for Genetic Editing of Embryos: Expert Panel
- Don't Wait, for Your Baby's Sake: Quit Smoking Before You're Pregnant
- Frequent Male Pot Use Linked to Early Miscarriages
- Trying to Conceive? Both Dad and Mom Should Give Up Drinking in Months Before
- High-Fiber Diets Might Shield Against a Common Pregnancy Complication
- Even Slightly Elevated Blood Pressure Early in Pregnancy a Bad Sign
- A Healthy Baby Starts With a Healthy Mom
- Fertility Treatment Tied to Deadly Heart Problem in Pregnancy: Study
- What Couples Considering IVF Need to Know
- Pregnant? The Earlier You Quit Smoking, the Better
- Are Some Birth Control Methods Doomed to Fail?
- How Soon Should You Conceive After a Stillbirth?
- Health Tip: Raise Your Chances of Having a Baby
- Female Anatomy May Play Big Role in Sperm's Success
- Fertility Treatments Don't Raise Cancer Risk for Offspring
- IVF Won't Cause Birth Complications: Study
- Faulty Sperm May Explain Recurring Miscarriages
- Obamacare Helped More Women Access Care Before Pregnancy: Study
- Fewer Pregnant U.S. Women Smoke or Drink, But More Are Using Pot
- Dad's Age May Play Role in Pregnancy Outcomes
- Take at Least a Year Between Pregnancies: Study
- The Ideal Weight Makes for a Healthier Pregnancy
- Women Who Breastfeed Longer More Likely to Have More Kids
- Boxers vs. Briefs and Your Chances of Becoming a Dad
- First IVF Baby Louise Brown Turns 40
- Stress Won't Undermine Fertility Treatment Success: Study
- It's Men, Not Careers, That Drive Women to Freeze Their Eggs
- Few Women Who Freeze Eggs Use Them for a Pregnancy Later
- Conception Tougher for Couples When Male Partner Is Depressed
- No Evidence Acupuncture Boosts Fertility Treatment
- Food for Thought: Keys to Fruitful Fertility
- Kids of Youngest, Oldest Moms at Risk of Developmental Issues: Study
- Health Tip: If You're Pregnant and Have Diabetes
- Raised Blood Pressure Before Pregnancy Linked to Miscarriage
- Mom's Pre-Pregnancy Waist Size Tied to Autism Risk
- More U.S. Women Obese Before Pregnancy, Experts Sound the Alarm
- Premature Births Cost Health Plans Billions
- Shooting Ranges Pose Hidden Risks: Study
- Could Night Shifts, Heavy Lifting Impair a Woman's Fertility?
- Obese Couples May Take Longer to Conceive
- Fertility Treatments Marketed in U.K. Without Proof They Work: Study
- Painkiller-Addicted Babies a Growing U.S. Concern, Especially in Fla.
- It Pays for Moms-to-Be to Stop Smoking
- Experimental Infertility Treatment Seems Effective, Cheaper
- Short 'Birth Spacing' Linked to Preterm Delivery
- Ob/Gyn Group Urges Docs to Help Prevent 'Octomom'-Type Multiple Births
- Nearly 50 Million Couples Worldwide Report Infertility
- 5 Million 'Test Tube' Babies Born to Date