You have had your first child and now you are ready to add to your family.
But sometimes trying to conceive a second or third time can be difficult – even if you’ve had no problems in the past.
When this happens, it can often help to take a step back to look at your life in order to see if there are any factors that may be affecting your ability to conceive.
If your first pregnancy was planned, then chances are you spent some time researching the things you needed to know about conception, pregnancy and starting a family.
But with the experience of one or more children behind you – and with the demands a young family can place on your time – you may not have had the opportunity to revisit the factors that may be affecting your or your partner’s fertility or the measures you need to take to increase it. And in all of these assessments, it is important to remember that any problems you may be having with conception are equally as likely to rest with your partner as with you.
A range of considerations, for both you and your partner, like your ages and weights or whether either of you smoke or drink, can affect your ability to conceive. If either of you are overweight, losing as little as 5kg can increase your respective fertility, just as quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol can make a difference to your chances of conceiving. But one of the essential issues to consider is timing.
In fact, in many ways, timing is everything.
As soon as you are ready to try for a baby, it helps to remind yourself about when is the best time to conceive. Ovulation, when an egg is mature and released from the ovary, occurs roughly 14 days before the end of your menstrual cycle. In a typical menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation tends to take place on the fourteenth day of a woman’s cycle. But not every woman is the same. So, depending on the length of your cycle, you may find that you ovulate earlier or later than the 14-day average. But if you are still not sure how to work things out, you can use an ovulation calculator which will do the sums for you.
But knowing when you are ovulating may not be enough, it is also important to be able to identify your fertile window – in other words, the days in your cycle when you are most likely to conceive. Technically, it is possible to conceive during the five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. But the likelihood of actually becoming pregnant dramatically increases if you have intercourse in the three days leading up to and including ovulation.
If you know all this and you have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a while, it may be time to consider medical assistance.
- Women aged 35 or older are recommended to have a conversation with their GP if they have been trying to conceive without success for more than six months.
- Younger women are advised to seek advice after a year of trying.
To make the most of your preconception health check with your GP it is useful, in advance of your appointment, to take a note of the overriding picture of your fertility. A good way to do this is by filling in a ‘pre-conception checklist’. This checklist will allow you to come prepared with much of the information a doctor will need to know about your circumstances and those of your partner.
If you are experiencing delays with conception it is important to seek medical advice as early as possible. There is a chance that your inability to conceive could be the result of physiological issues for you or your partner, a number of which can be easily resolved. Either way, getting the most accurate understanding of your fertility is best achieved by meeting with your GP who can work with you to assess your situation.
Many factors can affect your chances of conceiving. Knowing what they are and what you can do about them can make all the difference to your attempts to build a family. And these days there are many excellent resources available to give you much of the information you need to ensure you give yourself, your partner and your family the best possible opportunities.
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