From a young age, we are taught that having a child is easy—that you just need to have sex without protection and shortly a baby will be on the way. In reality, trying to conceive is not always that simple, and there are several factors that affect the likelihood of conception. Below, we will outline some of the key variables and break down established science around conception.
1. Understand your family’s medical history
Family history is a significant determinant of one’s fertility and is helpful to understand when trying to conceive. If possible, start a conversation with your parents to find out if either of them has had any experience of infertility, if your mother has experienced two or more miscarriages, and when she entered menopause. The more specific information and diagnoses they can provide, the better, as this information will prove useful down the line during an initial consultation in the case you seek the care of a specialist. A history of infertility may also position you as a candidate for genetic testing, which your doctor can order.
2. Schedule an annual physical
Just as important as understanding your family’s health history is understanding your own. Reach out to your OBGYN (Obstetrician/Gynecology) and schedule an annual well-person visit if it’s been more than a year. Even if it hasn’t, if you haven’t talked to your OBGYN about pre-conception we recommend scheduling an appt. If you don’t have an OBGYN, we can help connect you to your medical insurance to help you find an in-network provider.
Even if you are just beginning your family building journey, being aware of variables that may affect your ability to conceive is empowering and allows you to maintain a sense of control throughout your experience. Your OBGYN can help you address any preexisting conditions and offer general guidance on what you might expect and may recommend testing prior to trying to conceive.
We recommend your partner do the same!
Some testing that your OBGYN may order:
- Hormonal Testing (AMH, FSH, LH, E2, P4)
- An ultrasound to check anatomy
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
- Pre-Conception Carrier Screening (Genetic Testing)
- Infectious Disease Testing
- Proof of immunity to MMR, Varicella, and other diseases
- Semen Analysis for your partner
3. Understand your menstrual cycle
A ‘normal’ menstrual cycle is a period every 21-35 days. If your period isn’t regular, be sure to talk to your doctor. Charting your ovulation is a helpful way to take control of your family building journey and will allow you to plan your conception attempts for when you are most fertile. If your menstrual cycle is the average 28-day cycle, ovulation typically occurs 13 to 15 days after the start of their last period. During ovulation, most will experience an increase in cervical mucus, light spotting, cramping, bloating, breast tenderness and increased basal body temperature (BBT), which is the lowest possible temperature your body will reach during rest.
Tracking your ovulation allows you to develop a better picture of when you are ovulating and most likely to conceive. The use of over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits are typically recommended to check for ovulation (by measuring Luteinizing Hormone in urine). When your test reads positive, that’s a sign that your body is about to (or just has) ovulated and the recommendation is that you have sex over the course of the next 3-5 days.
In addition to self-tracking, there are many charting apps that will allow you to keep track of your cycle and even send reminders around your most fertile days. For Progyny members, your Patient Care Advocate (PCA) is always available to answer any questions you may have.
4. Know when to seek fertility treatment
Conceiving can be difficult for some; an estimated 1 out of 6 couples will have difficulty becoming pregnant. There are many variables that may affect one’s ability to conceive, and knowing when to seek treatment can help save time and heartache. Most recommend couples try on their for own for 6-12 months prior to seeking advice from a fertility specialist. At any point in your journey, you can set up time to discuss your family planning goals and have initial testing done with a fertility specialist.
The Progyny benefit includes comprehensive fertility treatment coverage, as well as emotional support and guidance, and access to a premier network of fertility specialists. Unlike other fertility solutions, Progyny does not need an infertility diagnosis, which opens the benefit to non-heterosexual couples. In addition to treatment, Progyny offers adoption and surrogacy services. If you are a Progyny member interested in learning more about your benefit, contact your PCA at 888.597.5065.
For couples who choose to seek treatment, the first step will be scheduling an initial consultation, where you will discuss your fertility journey with a specialist and provide any information you have on your family’s fertility history. This will allow your provider to have a clearer picture and equip them to develop a personalized treatment plan.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 23). Family health history and planning for pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_plan_pregnancy.htm
Alicia Ogle, A. P. N. P. (2022, November 17). Lubricant that is helpful for sperm. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/trying-to-get-pregnant-select-a-lubricant-that-is-most-helpful-for-