Patience may be a virtue, but one that is certainly lost on the woman who wants to have a baby. Whether you have only just begun or have been trying for quite some time, the truth is the process can be exhausting. All of the waiting, timing, scheduling, and more waiting can take a toll on even the most solid of partnerships. And if your timeline reads like "I need to get pregnant this month," then the pressure is definitely on. But experts say the science of it all is less complicated than you might think.
For starters, Dr. David Diaz, reproductive endocrinologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California tells Romper, don't rely too much on timing. "Trying to have a baby should be as natural as possible. The emotional and psychological burden of trying to 'time' sexual contact is fraught with problems which cause unnecessary stress for the couple and ultimately can lead to marital strife when the love making process becomes a chore instead of being pleasurable."
Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explains that it's easier to take the focus off of timing when you have a firm grasp on the natural rhythm of your body. "I spend a great deal of time giving a brief biology lesson on knowing when during the menstrual cycle pregnancy can occur," she tells Romper in an email interview. "Understanding when is the right time during your menstrual cycle to conceive is essential."
Ross explains that on average women have a period every 28 days. But many women don’t have a perfect 28-day cycle which, she says, can make it challenging to know when the egg is available for conception.
"Ovulation is the time when the egg is available to be fertilized over a 24-hour period," Ross says. "Typically ovulation occurs 14 days prior to getting your period. Some women notice an 'egg white and slimy' discharge around the time of ovulation while others actually notice a twinge or slight pelvic discomfort."
Ross explains that this information, coupled with the fact that sperm lives for 72 hours, can make timing intercourse a rather straightforward process. "The idea is to have the sperm waiting for the egg," she says. For example, if you have determined that you ovulate on Day 15 (day one being the first day of your period), then you can have timed intercourse on Day 14, 15, and 16. "Having intercourse on these days ensures that the sperm and egg are interfacing with hopes of an embryo being formed," Ross says. "Additionally, since the lifecycle of sperm is 72 hours, some experts suggest having intercourse on Day 10 and then abstaining until Day 14 based on the example. This way there is fresh sperm ready to find the egg in the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place."
If you are looking to plan out your next few weekends, then Diaz says that it also doesn't hurt to have sex more often.
"Many couples believe they should 'save up' the man's sperm until the most fertile days of the woman's cycle but in reality, the complete opposite is true," he says. "Frequency of sexual intimacy three to four times weekly is the simplest way to increase the likelihood of increasing the odds of pregnancy. It is pointless to avoid sex for weeks trying to store the sperm until the woman is ovulating."
Most importantly, Diaz says, "Try to make intimacy less clinical and more enjoyable by going on a date, giving massages, and staying off the Internet."
Chilling out is also crucial because it helps to decrease stress, says Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. "The stress of trying to get pregnant will often not cause fertility issues," he tells Romper. "However, as couples are trying to conceive the longer the process goes on sexual activity becomes more of a chore than a pleasurable experience." That's why, Ruiz says, he often recommends patients take a vacation or go away for a long weekend when a woman is ovulating. "I remind couples that sexual activity should also be pleasurable," he says.
Which, next to your hope for a bun in the oven, is really the whole point of this, right?
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.