I’m sharing my story, busting some myths and offering some tips on how to get pregnant, with thanks to IVF Australia. It’s all about the journey from contraception to conception.
Our journey to becoming parents was a little unusual. I’ve known since my early 20s that I would have trouble conceiving. I’ve known since I was a wee girl that I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I just had to meet the person I wanted to have babies with.
Luckily, the Welshman came into my life. I knew he was The One right from the beginning, but when he asked me to have his baby a long time before he asked me to marry him, it was confirmed.
Even though we knew we would need help to get pregnant – but we didn’t yet know what form it was going to take – we still used contraception. For me, it was the only way I had any semblance of a regular cycle. When we stopped using contraception, I charted my cycle. I took my daily basal temperature. I monitored myself for signs of ovulation. You might be wondering why? What was the point?
The point was hope. Plain and simple. Just hope. No one ever wants to give up hope. Miracles happen every single day – there’s always the chance one might just happen to you. Or to me. Later on, my IVF doctor gave me some very good advice about charting my cycle. Not only would it help with the IVF process in terms of guesstimating when my cycle might start, but it would help emotionally.
I called it the Pinocchio Effect – charting my daily cycle made me feel like a Real Girl.
Let’s dial it back a bit. Hop into the time machine with me and we will head all the way to middle school. For me, this was the mid 80s. Yes, I’m that old.
Do you remember having sex education classes at school? Oh, so embarrassing! It was all about periods and puberty and veered between coyness and gory details. 30 years later and I’m still shuddering!
I will never forget the looks on my friends’ faces when the teacher held up the biggest pad in the history of the world. There was a shocked intake of breath from several hundred 11 year old girls. They brushed over the basics of anatomy and gave the sketchiest details about how babies were made. No need for contraception information – we were all horrified and determined never to grow up. Ever.
Fast forward a few more years to high school, where the sex ed got a bit more real. Mixed classes this time – how embarrassment. There were condoms and bananas. Condoms ON bananas. Giggling girls. Blushing boys. Oh and vice versa. The focus was all about how NOT to get pregnant.
By the time we hit our prime babymaking years – let’s say mid 20s to 30s – some of us actually don’t know how to get pregnant. OK, you in the back row. Stop sniggering. Yes, yes, we all know the basics. When a man and a woman really love each other, sperm and eggs and getting jiggy with it and all that jazz.
For some of us, this getting pregnant business can be a bit of a shock to the system. We all have friends who made the decision for her to come off the Pill, only to discover they get pregnant almost instantaneously. As well as those friends who seem to be trying and trying for months on end with no success.
Getting pregnant isn’t that easy for many people. A perfectly healthy couple with no fertility issues in their mid 20s have only about a 20% chance of conceiving every month. Twenty per cent! Luckily, the trying to get pregnant bit is fun, right?!
How to get pregnant – the myths!
There are some myths which need to be busted when it comes to how to get pregnant.
My fertility is lowered after being on the Pill for years
It’s best to have one natural cycle after you’ve come off the Pill, IUD or implant forms of contraception, but it has no longer term effect on your fertility. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Myth. Busted!
Saving up sperm makes them more potent
Not ejaculating for a week to make the sperm better at their job? Luckily for your bloke, this is a myth. Sperm are made in the testes (yup, thanks Captain Obvious) and then deteriorate after 2-3 days as they’re exposed to factors like temperature, free radicals and toxins.
So here’s some good news for blokes trying to get their partners up the duff. Please feel free to bonk every couple of days to increase the chance of conception. Yippee!
Standing on your head sends the sperm in the right direction
An old wives tale of the highest order is the idea that standing on your head, or putting your legs up in the air will encourage the sperm to go where they need to go. Look, by all means do this. It is a good excuse to have a little rest after all your hard work in the bedroom, but sadly, it doesn’t help at all.
Just relax and it will happen
Jeez Louise! I think this might just be the most annoying “helpful” piece of advice ever. Lots and lots of women get pregnant in really stressful situations, when they’re really busy and totally not relaxed. You can get stressed from infertility, or not getting pregnant as quickly as you’d planned, but stress doesn’t cause infertility.
When it does finally happen, there’s always going to be some prat who tells you it was because you finally relaxed. Avoid the temptation to give that person a high five. In the face. With a chair. Smile and nod and remind them of the law of averages. Duh!
How to get pregnant – tips that might actually work
Taking my temperature will tell me when I ovulate
Your basal body temperature rises a few days after ovulation, so it is a myth with a base in fact. However, this is only useful when you record your daily temperature for a few cycles, and then look back to work out when you ovulated.
This helps you estimate when your next ovulation is due – and when it is time to get busy! If you have a regular 28 day cycle, you’re likely to ovulate around days 12-14, so the fertile period is usually days 9-16.
Egg whites are not just for omelettes
Monitoring your cervical mucous can let you know when you’re ovulating. Fertile mucous is voluminous, wet, very slippery and resembles raw egg whites. The best advice I got from an older friend who’d been there, done that, and had the stretchmarks to prove it, was when you go “whooooooosh” when you wipe, then that’s fertile mucous!
Keep a diary
Record your cycle on a daily basis, and note down the various signs, like temperature, mucous, pimples, headaches, breast tenderness, back twinges, even your sex drive. It will help you to pinpoint your cycle. For me, it didn’t help a lot other than to pinpoint that I had no regularity of cycle at all. It did make me feel like I was doing something on a daily basis. Yep, the Pinocchio Effect.
I had an old school paper grid diary, and I charted my temperature on a little graph. Now, there are amazing apps and websites to do all this for you. They can even send you reminders. I’d opt for one with discreet messages though. I’d live in fear of leaving my phone on the meeting table and have everyone read that I’m ovulating today!
Consult alternative medicine practitioners
Personally, I don’t think herbs or acupuncture or crystals or massage will do anything to help get you pregnant. But I do believe that if they make you feel more positive and happy throughout your journey on how to get pregnant, then they certainly can’t hurt. Anything that increases your physical and / or mental health is an excellent life choice.
Talk to a Fertility Specialist
After six months or so, if you haven’t managed to conceive, it might be worth talking to a fertility specialist. Visit your GP to get a referral. The standard advice is that most completely healthy couples will take about 12 months to conceive. However, the closer you are to 35 years old, the more important it is to seek medical advice and further help.
About 20% of couples will need some medical help to get pregnant. Fertility specialists have simpler treatment options, such as ovulation cycle tracking, ovulation induction and intra uterine insemination, which they may recommend before you hit the IVF option.
About 50% of the couples who seek help go on to get pregnant without IVF. Just remember, it never hurts to get some advice and explore your options.
How to get pregnant – my story
A few months after our wedding, we visited a Fertility Specialist and formed a personalised How to Get Pregnant plan. For us, this was IVF and it resulted in the awesome little dude we call Boyo.
Trying for a baby earlier in life, or having more knowledge about how to get pregnant wouldn’t have helped our situation. We needed IVF to conceive due to my medical issues.
However, we know lots of couples who struggled with fertility and have experienced issues becoming pregnant. Some of these people didn’t find the people they wanted to have babies with early enough in their lives. Some have had health issues which affected their fertility. Some were unlucky enough to have unexplained infertility.
Most of these people have gone on to have babies – through assisted fertility procedures such as IUI or IVF. Some have used donated embryos, sperm or eggs. Many fertility clinics can provide anonymous donor sperm, and many will also support you if you have a known egg donor. A new service in Australia is IVF Australia’s embryo donation website.
This whole how to get pregnant thing is not as scary as it sounds. Having babies with the person you love is exciting and emotional and draws you closer together. Having some knowledge up your sleeve before you start something new in life is always a good idea. It certainly applies to the journey from contraception to conception!
If it’s not happening as quickly as you’d like it to, getting some expert advice is a good idea. IVF Australia have some great tips for you. I’m happy recommending IVF Australia as that is how we completed our family.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What was your journey like? Are you at the contraception stage (with babies in your future), into the trying to conceive stage, or out of the other side and back to contraception?