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How do I actually start trying to conceive?

How do I actually start trying to conceive?

4 min read

So you're ready (as you'll ever be) to start trying to have a baby. What now? Is it a matter of literally just doing it, or is there more involved? We know how to prevent pregnancy, but learn very little about how to actually conceive.

Don't worry — we're here with the 101 on how to start smart, know when to ask for help, and more.

Get off birth control (and get your knowledge on)

Before you go off hormonal birth control, though, talk to your doctor about what you should expect in terms of symptoms (like withdrawal bleeding).

Talk with your healthcare provider about how to prepare for pregnancy in terms of your health and wellness, which includes learning the status of your vaccines and updating them if necessary, as well as inquiring about what prenatal vitamins you'll want to start taking.

If you're a smoker, you definitely want to quit, and you'll want to be very thoughtful about your alcohol consumption.

If your partner has sperm, there are important preconception steps he can take as well, like managing stress and alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and seeing a health care provider to make sure he's in good physical health.

Start tracking ovulation

If you're in a heterosexual relationship, you could "just do it," but in order to conceive, you'll want to plan it around your fertile window, or the time you have the best chance of getting pregnant. This is called timed intercourse, and it's where tracking your ovulation comes into play.

The likelihood of conceiving when you're having timed intercourse depends on how old you are, as well as the health of your fallopian tubes and uterus, and (if you have a partner with sperm) if your partner has any issues with reproductive organs.

If everything is in working order, so to speak, and you can pinpoint ovulation using an ovulation test like the Modern Fertility Ovulation Test, which tracks your luteinizing hormone (LH) at low, high, and peak levels to help you predict ovulation and your fertile window, so you can time sex or insemination accordingly For even more insight into your cycle, use the Modern Fertility App to scan and log your Ovulation Test results ~like magic~ with your phone’s camera — as well as track your periods and sex or insemination. Storing all of this useful info in one place helps you build a full picture of your cycle.

Having sex five days before you ovulate gives you a 14 to 23 percent chance of getting pregnant.

Conceiving when you're LGBTQ

If you identify as LGBTQ, you've probably keenly aware that getting pregnant is more complicated that learning when to have timed intercourse. There are options if you or your partner wants to carry a baby, which include intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). You can use a sperm donor you know in real life, or choose one via a sperm bank.

Transgender individuals who want to reproduce have a number of options for doing so. A trans person who's planning to have their testicles removed can bank sperm beforehand, and before they begin estrogen therapy. If they are already taking hormones, it's recommended that they stop for a few months so that sperm quantity and quality can be restored, since long term use of estrogen negatively impacts the maturation and motility (the ability to move and swim) of sperm . For trans people who have ovaries and have been taking hormones like testosterone, stopping the intake of testosterone can reinstate ovarian function. Egg and/or embryo freezing, followed by IVF or IUI, may be good options for getting pregnant.

While you've navigating the process of finding the right doctor, the right clinic, insurance madness, and other bends in the road, remember that you deserve to be held and supported in your journey, and to have all the information you need to make decisions for your future family.

When to ask for help

Once you've been trying to get pregnant for a while, let's say a couple of months, it can start to feel like a chore, and that feeling can intensify if you're surrounded by people who seem like they can get pregnant just by making eye contact. When is "a while" too long? When should you worry?

The definition of infertility is not conceiving after you've been having regular, unprotected sex for 12 months and you're younger than 35, or you're 35 and over and you've been having regular unprotected sex for six months. If this applies to you, you may want to consider seeking out a fertility specialist, who will perform a battery of tests in order to assess what's going on and point you in the direction of further treatment. It's important to remember that around 40% of fertility challenges are due to male factors, such as sperm count and quality, so make sure to advocate for testing for your male partner if your doctor isn't evaluating his fertility as well as yours.

Whether you’re currently trying to conceive, a few years away from kids, or not sure what the future holds yet, it’s always good to learn more about your hormones as a first step. The Modern Fertility Hormone Test measures hormones that play a key role in your fertility, although, and we can't emphasize this enough, it cannot diagnose you with infertility. Our hormone test gives you insight into your AMH levels and the number of eggs you have, and can help you identify red flag issues — like PCOS or thyroid conditions — that could affect your reproductive health down the line.For starters, getting a look at what your AMH levels are (which can tell you a lot about your ovarian reserve) at a time when you're still pondering kids can help you make decisions about timing and more.

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Chanel Dubofsky

Chanel's writing has appeared in Cosmo, Rewire, Lilith, HelloFlo, & Extra Crispy. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts & lives in New York. Follow her @chaneldubofsky.

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