By Mary Sabo
For Women's Health Foundation
Most American women are well-educated about preventing a pregnancy, but many do not know how to encourage one.
We assume we will get pregnant as soon as we stop using birth control, but often it is not so simple. As women, our fertile time is only at ovulation. Do you know when you ovulate? Most of us don't. How could we? It's not something that is taught in school, and most gynecologists don't educate their patients on the changes that take place in a woman's body around ovulation.
If you're having sex every day (lucky you!), you needn't worry, but not many couples do that, and timing is everything with fertility.
Ovulation is the moment when an egg is released from the ovary and quickly swept into the fallopian tube. If it happens to encounter sperm within a few hours, it may get fertilized and work its way into the uterus where it starts the process of becoming a baby. The egg will naturally break down after 12 to 24 hours if it doesn't encounter sperm, but fertilization usually happens within a few hours of ovulation.
A few hours—that's the window of time to fertilize that egg! Luckily your body has a special substance to widen that small window. In the days leading up to ovulation, the cervix (the opening to the uterus) softens, opens slightly and secretes mucus that can nourish and sustain sperm, allowing thp to pass into the uterus and wait (sometimes for days) for that egg to be released.
This fertile cervical mucus looks like raw egg white and can appear as discharge in your underwear or on toilet paper after you use the bathroom. It is stretchy and usually comes out in big globs. Sound familiar? When you see this, you know it's time to "get busy."
Optimally, you should have intercourse every day once you see the mucus until it is no longer present.
Here are some other helpful tips:
Orgasms boost your chances.
Relaxing (aka cuddling) for 10 to 20 minutes after sex helps your odds.
Foreplay helps improve cervical mucus and lubrication (best to skip the lube if you are trying to get pregnant).
Man on top ("missionary") position is usually best for baby-making.
So keep the quickies to a minimum and try to enjoy yourselves!
If after 6 to 12 cycles you are still not pregnant or you notice that you never have the white discharge, you may want to learn some ways to improve your fertility. A licensed acupuncturist can help you determine a diet and lifestyle that will make your body more balanced and more likely to become pregnant. Acupuncture is a proven way to increase fertility in men and women.
Want to learn more? Check out Making Babies by Sami David, MD, and Jill Blakeway, LAc, or Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.
Mary Sabo is an LAc, DACM, with Mary Sabo Acupuncture in New York. She is a board-certified acupuncturist and doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, specializing in fertility, women's health and stress-related symptoms.