Becoming pregnant at home
So you are ready to start a family and begin the wonderful journey of raising a human, but don’t know where to start to make sure you are prepared? Not to worry, we are here to help you. Whether you are in a hurry or simply wish to make the most of your early conception attempts, Kindbody has you covered. Read on for a review of all that you may want to keep in mind at the very start of this exciting adventure.
Not Your Average Fertility Clinic
Kindbody is not your usual fertility clinic. Folks here are not only committed, but also personable and experienced. Many of our care team members have experienced aspects of conception preparation firsthand and are excited about helping you achieve your fertility and family-building goals. We believe that readiness to conceive requires both mental and physical optimization. We believe in improving fertility care access, advancement of historically underrepresented communities, and cost control of treatment options.
We also understand that gender is a fluid concept. We understand and celebrate that not all women were designated female at birth and not all men were designated male at birth for that matter. Our caring providers stand ready to help guide trans patients towards the family of their dreams.
Uterus, egg and sperm
Those in a heterosexual relationship in which one person is genetically female and the other genetically male, and those who collectively have a uterus, egg, and sperm sources have the three essential at-home conception ingredients. If you find you do not have a uterus, egg, and sperm source, we encourage you to schedule an assessment to jump-start your efforts. We have members of our team who can assist in finding your donor source(s) if needed.
Known Challenges to “Retro” Conception
It is also worth noting that a more traditional at-home approach to babymaking is not always a great starting point if you have known genetic, surgical, illness, or injury-induced challenges to conception. If you are already aware of any such challenges, you may also wish to bypass these “natural” efforts, sometimes clinically referred to as “spontaneous conception,” as your family-building method and start the process with a more streamlined and successful treatment option.
So, as a recap, if you are in a relationship with a male and a female without known medical barriers to direct conception, and you have not been trying to conceive for over a year with no success, then here is where you start.
Rates of Successful At-Home Conception
Okay, let’s begin by setting some realistic expectations. Twelve percent of women experience difficulties becoming pregnant or carrying a child to term, and one in six couples have an unwanted delay in conception. But this is not a reason to panic, it is instead a reason to adopt a flexible mindset. Generally speaking, if a woman is in good health and under age 35, she has a 15% and 25% chance of conceiving each month. Typically 80% of women will conceive by 1 year of having unprotected intercourse, whether or not the goal of trying to get pregnant was being considered. If you are above 35, we generally recommend attempts to conceive at home for no more than 6 months prior to seeking assistance to increase time to conception.
A Personalized Fertility and Family-Building Plan (Type A’s start here)
If you are the sort of person who prefers personalized and strategic planning, you may want to consider scheduling a 60-minute virtual session with a fertility specialist. This appointment allows you to learn about your fertility from the comfort of your home. We’ll discuss the fundamentals of fertility and a plan for your fertility journey. The consultation kicks off your fertility journey by reviewing your medical history and family planning goals, and creating a personalized fertility plan.
Consider Preconception Testing and Carrier Screening (Risk Averse Start here)
Preconception blood work includes testing for various hormones that determine one’s fertility potential as well as ensuring sexually-transmitted disease testing is negative and titers for vaccination/viral immunity are adequate. Carrier screening is a type of genetic test which indicates if a person is at increased risk for certain genetic disorders. These genetic mutations are passed on from one generation to the next and you may not even be aware. If you are planning your first pregnancy, Kindbody suggests that you and, if possible, your partner consider carrier screening. Even if neither of you have a family history of disease or directly experience symptoms, it is still possible that you may be “silent carriers” of any of several hundred genetic diseases. As Kindbody’s Dr. Kristen Cain explains, ”… if two carriers of the same disease conceive a pregnancy together, there is a definite risk of having a baby with that disease.” (blog)
Kindbody is excited to offer genetic testing directly to consumers by 2023.
Initiation of Prenatal Vitamins
Providers recommend that prenatal vitamin supplementation begin at least 2-3 months prior to conception attempts. In addition, we encourage healthy eating habits and routine exercise. We know its not always easy, cheating is OKAY sometimes, but try your best to stick to the game plan!
Discontinue Birth Control (Risk Tolerant, Type B Begin here)
Once you decide you are ready to start to attempt conception, it is time to “pull the goalie,” as they used to say, or rather, to discontinue using birth control. If you are using barrier contraceptives, which prevent sperm from entering the uterus and fallopian tubes, either chemical such as spermicide or physical, such as a male or female condom, diaphragm, discontinued use is all that is required.
If you have been using hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, or plan on removing a contraceptive implant such as an IUD, we suggest discontinuing a month before you would like to begin attempting pregnancy (blog). On average, 3 months time is needed for cycles to regulate once you’ve stopped your birth control method.
- How soon after discounting the pill can I become pregnant?
- “The contraceptive pill stops your body from ovulating, but as soon you stop taking the pill this process kicks back into action and can happen as soon as 2 weeks after cessation”
- How soon after discontinuing the Depo-Provera® shot can I become pregnant?
- You could become pregnant as soon as 12 to 14 weeks after your last shot.
- How soon after discontinuing the vaginal ring can I become pregnant?
- It is generally recommended that you go off and experience at least one natural cycle before you attempt to conception, that said conception is possible immediately.
Begin Tracking Your Cycle
The next step is to begin tracking your cycle. We encourage you to download a tracker app on your phone so that you can start to create a pattern of your cycles and their characteristics. There are four phases of the menstrual cycle:
1.) Menstruation (bleeding) – for most women, this is the phase that they are most conscious
2.) The Follicular Phase – when eggs are being recruited to be prepared for maturation
3.) Ovulation – maturation and release of 1 mature egg
4.) The Luteal Phase – knowing where you are at in your cycle will help increase conception.
Timed Intercourse / Sex During your fertility Window
You can begin timed intercourse at home without any clinical intervention. Our FAQ page on Ovulation Tracking and Timed Intercourse will provide you with a quick overview. Most women who have a 28- day menstrual cycle have about 6 days each month that are considered their fertility window, or the days they are most fertile. Making the most of these days is key. Logging your cycles in an app can help you to predict when your fertility window may be if your cycles are not the typical 28 days in between menstruation.
Now that you know when you are more likely to conceive, plan on having sex regularly (we recommend every other day) and with a concerted effort to engage on the five days before and on the day of ovulation.
Will having sex too often decrease conception?
No. Despite old wisdom regarding the frequency of sex having a ceiling for conception, it is very difficult to have “too much sex.” If the activity remains pleasant and productive, and both partners feel inspired, do not feel limited.
Although “not stressing” is not a cure all for every conception concern, in early days of at home conception attempts, maintaining an easy and flexible demeanor is ideal. Stressing too much over duration or timing of intercourse can make the activity less fun and in worst case scenarios, even affect your cycle.
For some, the knowledge that stress can impact conception is a vicious cycle. Some can become stressed over their level of stress.
Optimizing for conception
We invite you to read more about preparing your body for pregnancy by checking out this blog, prepare your body for pregnancy, and of course, you should do the following:
1. Stop smoking
2. Decrease (and eventually stop) alcohol consumption
3. Stop any drug use and speak to your doctor about any prescription you are on and whether they may be continued through your conception attempts and pregnancy.
4. Eat healthy
5. Avoid strenuous exercise, outside of your normal routine.
When to speak to a doctor?
Heterosexual couples who are healthy, under the age of 35, and are regularly having sex are encouraged to speak with a fertility doctor if they have not conceived within a year of unprotected intercourse whether or not they are actively trying. Remember that a delay doesn’t mean that you are “infertile” or that you will need IVF. Sometimes there are simple solutions to a improve success rates of at-home conception. Your Kindbody provider will work with you to optimize yourr family-building dreams.
As my colleague, Dr. Erica Louden, wisely summarized, “Delay in pregnancy does not mean no to ever being a parent”. Get a consultation from an REI physician: get evaluated, make a plan for your ideal family size and if it doesn’t happen with at home conception, don’t be afraid of reaching out for a little help.”
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