Creating a fertility plan
For women, a yearly check-up with their healthcare provider is an essential part of maintaining their overall reproductive health. And if you are trying to get pregnant, it's even more important. Here are some tips toward both goals.
Understand your cycle
Understanding your ovulation cycle is a basic step in maintaining good health, and especially important for women trying to conceive. A recent study by First Response, a brand of pregnancy tests, and Yale School of Medicine researchers revealed that 40 percent of women were not aware of the timing of ovulation in relation to their period, and 60 percent incorrectly believed that intercourse should be timed after ovulation to maximize chance of conception.
There are charts and apps available to help alleviate the guesswork in tracking a woman's cycle. For example, the First Response Tracker is a smartphone app for iPhone and Android users. The app keeps track of a woman's period and ovulation cycles, and calculates her most fertile days. If she's pregnant, it can estimate how far along she is and predict her due date. For more about the app, visit knowsooner.com.
Be open with your doctor
"Whether or not you're trying to get pregnant, it is important to know your body and to have a good relationship with your OB/GYN," says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. "You should never feel intimidated or embarrassed to talk about your sexual activity, menstrual cycle and health."
Minkin goes on to say that if you are trying to get pregnant, knowing your history will help your doctor discuss a specific fertility plan, and help you make any lifestyle changes that will best condition your body and overall health.
Guidelines for seeing a specialist
As Barbara Collura, president/CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, explains, "The guidelines state that you should seek the advice of a fertility specialist if you are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months, or over 35 and have been trying for six months."
However, she also points out factors such as being overweight or underweight, tobacco and alcohol use, and prior health issues such as surgeries can all impact your fertility and chances of conception. To find out more about what can affect fertility, visit resolve.org.
Talk with your partner
When it comes to trying to get pregnant, it's not just physical — it's mental and financial, too. Planning to start a family is an important conversation for both partners to have so they can get on the same page about the responsibilities of raising a child, says Dr. Diane Ashton, vice president for Health Equity and deputy medical director of medical affairs at the March of Dimes.
Issues to discuss include lifestyle changes, baby budgeting and making sure you are both emotionally ready to balance your careers and free time with having a family.
Knowing as soon as possible
Confirming pregnancy as soon as possible is important for women to make lifestyle changes and initiate prenatal care as close to conception as possible. Look for early pregnancy tests at the drugstore that have been cleared by the FDA and have the highest accuracy rate.