The perception is that getting pregnant and having a baby is always an amazing and joyous experience.
However, when a desired pregnancy doesn’t happen right away, you may feel utterly bewildered. Your feelings of anticipation can give way to hours of worry and days or even weeks of anxiety.
Every time one of your friends breathlessly confides they are expecting, you catch your breath just a little. You want to congratulate them fully but there’s that nagging little voice asking when your turn will come. Over time, the voice starts to get louder and louder. This is when you realize you need to do some more research so you can get answers to your questions.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, it is normal for it to take a bit longer than you initially expected. Some things just take time.
To help answer some of the questions you might have at the moment, I have outlined some of the biggest factors that might be affecting how long it is taking you to conceive.
The Underlying Cause of the Problem
One of the biggest reasons why you mightn’t get pregnant right away is due to age. As we age, our eggs and sperm get older. Which makes perfect sense once you think about it.
The thing that most people overlook however is that ageing can also compound bad lifestyle habits that have been built up over time such as weight gain from poor diet and the cumulative effects of stress. So if you have been overweight and had a poor diet for 10 years it will have a much more negative effect on your hormones and chance of fertility then if you are younger and are only now starting to shift into a unhealthier lifestyle.
Ageing can and does affect both male and female fertility. While your male partner may be less affected by a decline in age-related fertility, he can also experience problems as he moves past his thirties. Studies have shown that the ideal time to conceive is typically between nineteen and twenty-six. This does not mean you can’t get pregnant if you’re a bit older. Even older women can expect to be get pregnant if they are smart about trying and work on factors that may be inhabiting their ability to get pregnant. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to shake off your old habits, get in shape and get pregnant ASAP.
Stress Really Hurts
Just relax may be the hardest advice you’ll ever hear when you’re trying to conceive. Even if it makes you want to scream, there is a grain of truth here. Believe it or not, researchers have found women who have elevated levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that is known to be correlated with stress, really do have a harder time getting pregnant. When you can find ways of letting stress out of your life by seeking support from your partner or even working less overtime, you will increase your chances of getting pregnant. The very thought of fertility issues can also affect you and increase your stress levels more than your male partner.
Menstrual Cycle Abnormalities
If you are trying to get pregnant, you’ll want to pay close attention to your menstrual cycles. Irregular or abnormal menstruation accounts for about twenty-five percent of all fertility problems. As women age, they may experience a subtle but noticeable shortening of menstrual cycles. This can give the egg less time to mature during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle or increase the risk of miscarriage during your luteal phase. A condition called PCOS or Polycistic Ovary Syndrome may impact your ability to conceive. Many women with this condition can be successfully treated for it.
Alcohol can also reduce your chances of conception. It is best to drink as little as possible or even not at all because alcohol can decrease you chances of conception and easily harm a fetus once you get pregnant. Put down that glass of wine and reach for the grape juice instead at the office party.
Smoking can have decrease your chances of conception by up to thirteen percent. If you smoke, you may be even be thrown into menopause up to four years earlier than you would if you didn’t smoke. Smokers may also have other conception problems from smoking as well including ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. If you smoke, you need to quit as early as possible to help you get pregnant. A simple over the counter prescription can help you drop this terrible habit, get healthier and have a baby.
Being Underweight or Overweight
To get pregnant, you need to be the right weight. If you are underweight, you may not have enough body fat to trigger the release of hormones necessary for conception. Underweight women may take much longer to get pregnant. If you are carrying too much weight, this can also cause fertility problems. Women who are overweight may also have problems with hormonal imbalances that can make it harder for them to conceive.
If you are underweight or overweight, you will want to get your BMI (Body Mass Index) to between 19 and 29 to increase your chances at conception. A healthy diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein can vastly up your chances of having a baby and make you feel better about yourself at the same time.
One of the most surprising fertility risk factors is exercise. Both too much and too little exercise can impact your ability to get pregnant. Intensive six hour a day marathon training can decrease your body fat level and lead to an inability to menstruate at all. On the other hand, sitting around doing nothing but couch potato-ing can also make it tough to conceive. You need to find your happy medium. Go for a daily session on the thread mill each morning or an afternoon walk with you dog instead of sitting around letting worry get the best of you. But if you’re trying to get pregnant, you may have to give up your dream of running in the local triathlon for a couple months.
- B. Dunson, D. D. Baird, and B. Colombo , “Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle,” Human Reproduction Vol.17, No.5 pp. 1399–1403, 2002.
- E.W. Freeman, A.S. Boxer, K. Rickels, R. Tureck, L. Mastoinni, “Psychological evaluation and support in a program of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer,” Fertil. Steril, 43 (1985), pp. 48–53.
- Brodin, T. Bergh, L. Berglund, N. Hadziosmanovic, and J. Holte, “Menstrual cycle length is an age-independent marker of female fertility: results from 6271 treatment cycles of in vitro fertilization,” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 90, no. 5, pp. 1656–1661, Nov. 2008.
- “Smoking and infertility,” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 86, no. 5, pp. S172–S177, Nov. 2006.