Trying to conceive? Conception tips, symptoms and signs

By: Julie Fletcher

Will I ever get pregnant?
Some women seem to get pregnant so easily that we make cute jokes, like, 'Her husband can't walk by her without her getting pregnant!' But others cannot seem to have that sort of luck. Trying to conceive can become work, hard work, for a couple who want to have a child of their own. If you are trying to become pregnant there is information about conception and your body that you need to know.

The stages of conception

The first stage of conception is ovulation. In most women, one and sometimes two eggs mature every twenty eight to thirty days. These eggs are released and travel down the fallopian tubes. This is ovulation and when an egg is met by sperm in the fallopian tubes, a sperm may make it's way inside of one of the mature eggs. This is fertilization. If the sperm is successful, the now fertilized egg will travel down the fallopian tube into the uterus or womb and burrow into the lining of the womb. This is known as implantation.

What is ovulation?
Ovum, or eggs, are located in the ovaries of all women from birth. You are born with a finite amount of eggs which mature at intervals after a woman has reached puberty then menstruation. In women who have not had intercourse during this fertile time of their menstrual cycle, the egg will not encounter sperm and will not be fertilized. The egg will pass through the womb which is full of blood and ready for implantation without implanting itself into the lining of the uterus.

The Menstrual Cycle
Most doctors consider days 1-5 of your menstrual cycle as the day you first begin to have a discharge. If you're trying to conceive, be sure to record the date your period starts, your doctor will use this as the date to calculate ovulation and to estimate the due date of your baby if you become pregnant. Days 6-11 are also called 'dry days'. You are not fertile during this time as your body is preparing to release the mature egg from the ovary. The following days of ovulation are the most fertile. Days 12-18 are the most fertile part of the menstrual cycle. If you are trying to become pregnant, this is the time to be intimate with your partner. The egg has been released and is now traveling through the fallopian tube. Days 19-32 of your cycle are much like the 'dry days' as you are no longer fertile. The egg has passed through the tubes and through the uterus at this time.

Make a calendar
If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to make a calendar to keep up with your own cycle. Not every woman will have the same ovulation cycle and getting to know yours intimately will greatly increase your chances of becoming pregnant. (Also in avoiding pregnancy, but that is a topic for another discussion!). Nearly every outlet sells ovulation prediction kits which resemble home pregnancy test kits. Once you have a calendar of your ovulation cycle, try one of these ovulation kits to help you predict the best day to plan relations with your partner for what is known as conception sex. The kits come with detailed instructions on their use. These ovulation kits can even be found in grocery stores now.

Signs of ovulation
Most women do not know they are or have ovulated. Some women have slight cramps or other pains when the follicle holding the egg has ruptured to release the egg. In fact, nearly all women can feel something a little out of the ordinary during this time, but most attribute it to different things, such as a pulled abdominal muscle. One of the best descriptions of the cramp is a slight shooting pain on whichever side of the abdomen that the ovary is on that released the egg. The cramp may radiate downwards and feel like a twinge felt from a urinary tract infection, then go away. Emotional signs of ovulation can also manifest with feelings much like premenstrual syndrome.

What odds do I have of conceiving?
The odds of conception vary from woman to woman just as the ovulation cycle varies. No doctor can tell a woman exactly how well her chances are of conceiving unless extensive tests of both partners involved in the conception process. Stress, physical fitness, timing, and diet all play a part in increasing the odds of conceiving. Constantly trying to conceive and placing the full empathis of sex being only for getting pregnant can affect both partners and lower the chances of success. Relaxation will increase your odds, as too much of a clinical enviroment and a routine will place stress on a relationship. This stress can lower sperm production, make the sperm weaker, and force the woman's body to reject conception since the body has stress chemicals marauding through the system.

Do not smoke!
Smoking will not only harm the developing fetus if you do become pregnant, smoking will lower your odds of becoming pregnant in the first place. Cigarette smoking and the effects it has on the body damages all partners involved. Smoking constrict blood vessels, resulting in less of a healthy enviroment for conception. Not enough blood flow will reach the uterus and in some cases, the lining will not be as healthy for the fertilized egg to implant properly or for the developing placenta to do it's job. Smoking also lowers the sperm count of a male which is vital for conception.

Eat a well balanced diet

A healthy body begins with the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, food. Food is rich in the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed to build a perfect enviroment for a baby to develop in. Preparing for pregnancy begins well before conception. Folate is an important B vitamin that occurs naturally in food and is a key component in a diet for a woman trying to conceive. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate and is added into food during the enrichment process. Folate is important for the production of news cells and for maintaing them in a healthy condition. This is why folate and folic acid is so important during pregnancy as cells for the new baby are rapidly being produced and dividing. A lack of folic acid (folate) has been linked to specific birth defects, namely Spina Bifida. A diet rich with leafy green vegetables, citrus, and certain beans is also a diet rich in the much needed folate.

Regular exercise

Being healthy and including regular exercise in your daily routine will not only make your body stronger, it will also help reduce stress. Endorphins are released when a person exercises and gives a feeling of well being. Better sleep will also result from exercise which results in a better rested body that can work on healing itself and utilize the nutrients introduced by a healthy diet. A fit body can also help make your sex life more enjoyable, resulting in stronger orgasms which have been found to help with conception. During a female orgasm, the uterus 'dips' down which may be a throwback to times when a female had to 'choose' a proper mate that was strong and virile to sire her offspring. The uterus is stronger and better placed in a woman who exercises regularly and will make a stronger enviroment for a baby to grow. Not to mention help with labor later on!

See your doctor and advise him/her you are trying to conceive
Talk with your doctor about your attempts to conceive. He or she has access to a great amount of information and they can help you plan a diet, exercise program and offer physical checks to make sure you are in condition to conceive and carry a child. If you are having problems conceiving, your doctor can also refer you to a specialist who can perform tests on you and your partner to rule out any health issues. The specialist can possibly offer fertility drugs if all other attempts fail and also offer other options as well.

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