Facts About Conception
Facts About Conception
Jay Goldberg (Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What factors affect my ability to get pregnant?; How does my age affect my ability to conceive?; How can I improve my chances of getting pregnant? and more...
What is "conception"?
Conception is the act between a sperm and an egg. Conception is when a sperm and an egg meet, and then they implant themselves into the uterine wall.
What factors affect my ability to get pregnant?
The factors that would affect a woman's ability to conceive include such things as a prior infectious history, where it affected the patency of your fallopian tubes. In particular, chlamydia is most known for that, but pelvic inflammatory disease or any pelvic infection can damage your tubes. A prior surgery can cause problems, where you've had surgery in the past and it's damaged the fallopian tubes and their ability to allow the sperm and the egg to meet. You can have had a history of something called endometriosis that can damage the integrity of the fallopian tubes, as well. Lifestyle as well, leading a poor lifestyle like cigarette smoking and such, can sometimes increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy outside the uterus. Those are several factors that can affect the ability to concieve.
How does my age affect my ability to conceive?
Age is a major factor in your ability to conceive. A woman's most fertile period of life, when it's easiest to conceive is probably in her early twenties; late teens, early twenties. As time goes on, the quality of the eggs diminishes. Eggs are generated or formed at conception, so a woman's eggs are a finite number. You have a certain amount when you're born. At puberty it's less, at 20 it's less, at 30 it's less. So by 40-45 years old your ability to spontaneously conceive without the assistance of fertility specialists is less than 1% at that point.
How does being overweight affect my ability to conceive?
Usually, we encourage you to exercise regularly, because that can release endorphins and put you in a good mood. To eat healthy, because if you are an overeater and you carry around excess adipose or fat tissue, fat tissue makes the hormone estrogen, and that can cause your periods to become irregular. So, if you're overweight and have irregular periods, your ability to conceive is going to be less because you can't time things really appropriately.
When can I expect to conceive after I stop taking hormonal contraceptives?
After you take hormonal contraception, there's a myth that you should have a cleansing period of several months but my personal experience with patients is that that's not necessarily true. There's no reason for you to cleanse your body. You can stop the birth control pill and shortly thereafter attempt conception, and if you were to conceive, I'd be patting you on the back, not telling you that that was a mistake.
When should I seek professional advice if I'm concerned about conceiving?
Ninety percent of fertile couples conceive with in a year. So it's usually our recommendation, if you're under thirty-five years old, to give it a good nine months to a year. If in nine months the two of you are a little bit eager, and you want to be proactive, then I would maybe recommend seeing your healthcare professional and talking about your concerns, and then you can kind of start the ball rolling. For women over thirty-five, your ability to conceive is a little bit more difficult. So, we'd probably look into that a little bit more, and usually people recommend six months. After six months at over thirty-five years old, then I would probably seek medical advice as to how you would proceed.