Sometimes a couple fails to conceive even though they long for a child, stop using contraception and have intercourse during every ovulation. Usually in this situation they are advised to have intercourse during every ovulation, to continue their normal life – and to be patient.
They are often advised by other people to relax and not think about it, and it will happen naturally. This is easier said than done, especially when you are under pressure to have intercourse at specific times to optimise the chance of conceiving.
The older the couple, the sooner they should start thinking about what to do if things don't go as planned.
Chance of pregnancy during ovulation
In order for fertilisation to occur, the sperm needs to reach the egg at the right time. Try to document your ovulation cycle so you can have intercourse on the right days. The chance of conceiving is greatest 48 hours before and 24 hours after ovulation. The likelihood is about 30 percent on these days.
But you can also get pregnant on the days before and after the optimal ones. An egg can survive in the fallopian tube for up to 48 hours, and sperm can live for up to five days. This means the egg could be fertilised a couple of days after intercourse occurred.
How do I know when I will ovulate?
Ovulation usually occurs around 12-16 days before menstruation. But the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman. For this reason, it is advisable to find out exactly when you are due to ovulate. The easiest method is to buy an ovulation test. Another method is to take your temperature every morning until you see a clear pattern. Your temperature rises by about half a degree during the 24 hours after ovulation.
One sign that a woman is ovulating is a clear, stretchy cervical mucus with a consistency like raw egg white.
Having sex at planned times might seem unromantic, but try seeing it in a positive light and maybe joke about it a little when you enter the dates in your calendar.
A visit to the gynaecologist or fertility assessment
The general recommendation is to wait at least a year before considering a fertility assessment. However, women over 36 can request one earlier. As the first step, your gynaecologist usually prescribes hormone therapy to induce ovulation. For some women, this treatment is sufficient to get pregnant.
You should seek help immediately if you suspect there could be medical reasons why you can't get pregnant, such as past illnesses. Bear in mind that reduced fertility is more common that complete infertility.
A woman's fertility starts decreasing at age 30-32 and drops increasingly quickly after age 35. Many, although not all, women have very low fertility by age 40-42. Men's fertility also gradually decreases, but without such clearly defined age limits.
The average age of first-time mothers has increased by about 5 years in Sweden over the past 30 years. The average age of first-time mothers has increased from 24 to 29. As a result, an increasing number of people are seeking fertility treatment.
When you don't get pregnant
It is often difficult to discuss one's infertility since it is such a personal subject. When the woman's period keeps arriving month after month, it often causes enormous disappointment and emotional stress. It doesn't improve matters when family and friends keep asking, "When are you going to..."
There are many traditional tips for increasing one's chances of conceiving. Some are nonsense, while others can be worth a try. The best advice is to continue your normal life while following guidelines that actually can increase fertility. Read tips to increase your chances of conceiving.
Contact a gynaecologist for advice on how you can proceed.
You might find it useful to contact others in the same situation. It often helps to know you are not alone, and to discuss and process your experiences.
Read articles about IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or adoption.