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Preconception FAQ

By Rachel Lower

Q: How many days can sperm live?
A: Generally speaking, two to five days. If you're extremely fertile, possibly up to a week. To be safe, go with 2-3 days. Try to bd ("Baby Dance", intercourse) every day around 'O' or every other day around ovulation. There are differing views on what is better: every day or every other day, despite sperm count.

Q: How long does the egg survive after ovulation?
A: Between 12 and 24 hours.

Q: How many days before my period is due do I ovulate? How I do I tell when I'm ovulating?
A: Generally you ovulate 12-16 days before your next menstrual period begins. If it is less than 12 days you may have a luteal phase (length of days between ovulation and your next period) defectin which case you should see a doctor. The best way to find out when you are ovulating is to chart your bbt for a couple of months and during ttc. (See for free online basal body temperature charting.) Your luteal phase normally should not vary.

Q: Is there anything I can take, eat, or drink to increase our chances of conception?
A: Evening Primrose Oil and Robitussin are both said to increase cervical fluid, but they are medications! I would recommend avoiding medicines, instead drinking Green Tea and getting your 8-10 glasses of water a day. Eat healthy, take your vitamins, and exercise. Stay relaxed and avoid stress. Get your sleep! Avoid obsessively spending hours a day at due date club boards. Have hubby get in on it too, making healthy lifestyle changes and taking Vitamins C, Zinc, and E.

Q: How do I have a boy/girl?
A: This is controversial! One method, Shettle's, recommends having sex a few days before O (ovulation) for a girl, and right before O and the day of O for a boy. This is based on the theory that girls have more endurance and boys have the speed. Then there is another method that is the opposite, which is unsettling for wishing to believe you can have any say. I can tell you what worked for my mom when she wanted a boy: Shettle's method prescribes a douche of water and baking soda (alkaline) will help for a boy, water and vinegar (acidic) for a girl. Keep in mind they frown upon using a douche these days. It's probably simple 50/50, with just a slight slither of a chance more for a boy. It may be worth a try. Pray!

Q: When does implantation occur?
A: Implantation occurs 7-10 days after Ovulation. Theory/research has that the absolute best day for implantation is 8dpo. It can happen at 11 and 12 dpo as well, but along with the wait comes an increasing chance of miscarriage. You may have a little spotting along with implantation, faint twinges of pain, or scant spotting when you would have expected AF. Also, if you chart, you'll want to note that the implantation dip is a myth. Dips on your chart are generally caused by an increase in estrogen (as around O) or perhaps other factors, but are not proven to be tied to implantation.

Q: How early can I take a pregnancy test?
A: Since implantation usually occurs around day 8, a few days after that hcg may be detectable. If you are regular, the best thing to do is wait until the day after 'AF' (Aunt Flo, your period) is due. If your period is irregular, give it two weeks and a day after you had expected AF.

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Q: Should I start taking prenatal vitamins now?
A: Yes!! They recommend switching from your regular (or no) vitamins to prenatal vitamins as early as three months before trying to conceive. It is especially important to get your folic acid.

Q: What about laying on your back after intercourse?
A: Laying on your back, with your legs propped up, can help the sperm along. Sperm will be well on their way within 30 minutes. It is suggested you do this for 20-30 minutes. If your doctor has told you that you have a tilted uterus, it'll be the opposite - lay on your stomach instead!

Q: What are the best positions for conception?
A: Missionary. As a rule of thumb, keep gravity and depth of "copulation" on your side.

Q: How long will it take to get pregnant?
A: You have about a 25% chance if you are in tune and your timing is promising. 50% Percent of couples will conceive within a few months of ttc. Most of the rest will have conceived by the end of the year. If it takes longer than a year, see a fertility specialist. Don't worry, most fertility problems can be corrected.

© Rachel


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