Let’s talk about the birds and the bees – and ovulation test kits and basal body temperature, too. Creating a little human is sometimes left to chance, but as women have their first child later and later (the average is 28 years old right now), many would like to get down to business ASAP once they feel the time is right to add to their brood.
When Is the Right Time?
Leah Millheiser, MD, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, was happy to bring us up-to-date on the latest and greatest in baby-making. While not much has changed on the home-front (women get pregnant, men play an important part in that), new technology has been introduced that can help women get in the family way more quickly – you just need your phone.
“In the past 10 years, a lot of apps have come out that help track your cycle. Based off of the information that you supply in the app, it can actually predict when you’re ovulating,” she said.
For example, the Kindara app is paired with a thermometer to record your basal body temperature, then you input different factors like cervical fluid consistency. Your body puts out a lot of different signs to tell you if you’re approaching max “pregnability”, but it can be hard to read them, let alone know what they all mean together. Apps can help you understand when you may soon be ovulating, and can also be used with ovulation prediction kits that tell you when your hormone surge is near. Then, when the time is right (around two-three days BEFORE you ovulate), light some candles and put on some music.
What to Do BEFORE You Become Pregnant
If you’re planning to have a baby within the next year or two, you should start certain preparations well before you even start thinking about nursery decor. The factors that affect your fertility include your age, health, and medical conditions.
“First, you really want to be at an optimal weight. If you’re over and underweight, you may not be able to ovulate. You should be on prenatal vitamins for several months before you attempt pregnancy. Also, if you’re on the pill, discontinue its use about 3-6 months before you start actively trying to get pregnant,” Dr. Millheiser suggests.
Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or those who are underweight, have an eating disorder, are avid exercisers, or are pro athletes may also have difficulty conceiving. Plus, Dr. Millheiser says, high levels of stress can also be a problem.
If you’re breastfeeding another child and want to become pregnant, remember that nursing isn’t the same as contraception – although it’s harder to ovulate when you’re breastfeeding. If you’re only nursing once or twice a day and having regular periods, then you can get pregnant. She also suggests talking to your doctor if you want to continue breastfeeding early in your pregnancy, since complications can occur.
40 and Over: What to Keep in Mind
Women on the more mature end of their fertility should keep several things in mind. “Fertility at 40 is different than 25 or 30. By your late 30s, your fertility decreases. If a women has regular periods, then I recommend they use ovulation prediction kits or ovulation apps. If a woman who is 40 or over has been actively trying to get pregnant for six months, she should talk to a clinician. Don’t wait for a year. Also, women can get anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) testing, which estimates your egg supply,” says Dr. Millheiser.
Remember, if you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, you should visit your doctor. If you’re over 35, when it’s more difficult to achieve pregnancy, then you should call after trying for six months.