Getting pregnant is the most natural thing in the world. Except when it’s not.
In my practice I regularly see couples who want to conceive. Sometimes women can get out of touch with their natural body rhythms and, ironically, technology can help women “get back to nature” by helping track their cycles and fertile periods, and even just helping them relax.
Anyone can book a pre-conception visit with her primary care or women’s health provider, but you should definitely check in with your provider if you’re experiencing any of these issues:
- You have irregular periods.
- You’re over 35 with regular periods and have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for at least six months.
- You’re under 35 with regular periods and have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for up to 12 months.
Is Your Former Birth Control Regimen Preventing You from Getting Pregnant?
Most forms of hormonal birth control like pills and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) stop working when you stop using them. In rare instances, your body may need 3 to 6 months to re-regulate ovulation. Depo-Provera is the major exception–it may take up to 18 months after your last Depo-Provera injection before you get pregnant (although some women start ovulating immediately). If you were on Depo-Provera and are having trouble conceiving, see your health care provider.
What About the Guys?
It takes two to make a baby, right? In cases where the man has had testicular issues in the past, he should see his primary care provider for an examination. A semen test can rule out basic motility or volume problems.
If these issues don’t apply to you, you might just need a little help to get pregnant. Here are my top fertility tool recommendations.
1. LoveCycles for iPhone and Android
How it works: More than a menstrual cycle calendar, this smartphone app predicts your fertile days, lets you enter past period history, and syncs to multiple devices so your partner can track which dates are prime for conception, too. Free in the iTunes store and on Google Play.
2. Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor
How it works: This little device identifies your peak fertile days by measuring an increase in luteinizing hormone in your urine. Just pee on a stick, put it into the monitor, and discover your high fertility days. Luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation, so measuring the hormone’s levels in your urine accurately predicts fertility. Available online at the P&G Store and at major retailers.
How it works: Our stress-laden lives can inhibit conception, so I recommend you do everything you can to de-stress. Calm.com is a great tool available online or as an iPhone app that provides free, guided meditation sessions in increments from 2 to 20 minutes. Taking time out twice a day to relax can improve your odds of conceiving.
4. Tanita Duo Scale Plus Body Fat Monitor
How it works: In our type A society, many women who exercise vigorously for health and stress relief can actually lower their body fat percentage too much–your body needs a certain amount of fat to support the needs of pregnancy. A body fat scale as well as a free BMI calculator can be a great tools to help you maintain a healthy, mid-range BMI. Just be sure to take measurements consistently at the same time of day and hydration level to ensure you’re getting the most accurate reading.
5. Mabis Healthcare Digital Thermometer
How it works: Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) is a cost-effective way many women track their ovulation cycles and pinpoint their most fertile days. Your BBT typically rises following ovulation due to an increase in the hormone progesterone. A digital thermometer like this one from Mabis Healthcare is a fast, easy way to monitor your BBT and predict when you’ll ovulate next.
Bonus: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Wechsler
How it works: For the less tech-savvy, simply unwinding with a good book can be a relaxing experience and, in this case, can provide you with a great roadmap for getting pregnant. Toni Wechsler’s classic book Taking Charge of Your Fertility covers many natural approaches to reclaiming your cycle and your fertility, including how to chart your basal body temperature. I highly recommend it.