Jessica is 29. She recently married the love of her life and now contemplating pregnancy next year. She has no health issues. No one in her family has struggled with infertility. She does not give pregnancy much of thought except that it will happen when it does. While there is still much to be discovered about conception and pregnancy, science has shown that there are many aspects of Jessica’s health that can affect conception and pregnancy. In this article, I discuss points that every woman who sees pregnancy in her future should know.
- Are you taking a daily prenatal vitamin? If not, find one that has at least 400micrograms of folic acid and begin taking it prior to trying for pregnancy. By doing this, you can prevent folic acid deficiency, a condition that causes spinal malformations in the fetus.
- Are you up to date on your vaccinations - Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough) and chicken pox? Being vaccinated can help reduce your risk of contracting these potentially devastating diseases during pregnancy.
- Are you having regular periods? If not, please be evaluated by your gynecologist. Preliminary tests can determine if you have a chance to conceive spontaneously or if you will require treatment from an infertility specialist.
- Are you having sex at the right time? Normal menstrual cycles (number of days from the start of one period to the next) range from 21 to 35 days. If you have a 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. Timing intercourse around ovulation will increase your chance of conception. A visit to your gynecologist can help tease out any menstrual irregularities.
- Are you overweight or obese? Are you making lifestyle changes towards weight loss? Obesity can affect the ovaries negatively, preventing ovulation at regular intervals which in turn reduces chance of spontaneous conception. Monitoring your periods and menstrual cycle length is important. A healthier you will increase your chance of conception, healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
- Have you been exposed to or tested for sexually transmitted infections? Some infections may be present without obvious symptoms. Some can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, which could lead to scarring in the fallopian tubes. Each fallopian tube acts as a conduit between the ovary and the uterus. Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube, which then carries the fertilized egg to the uterus where the embryo implants. Previous infections can lead can lead to issues with infertility.
Each one of us is unique and our conception/pregnancy journeys will differ. If you are struggling to conceive, you are not alone. Your gynecologist would love to help.
Subscript: Ujuka Iloabuchi MD is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Gwinnett OB/GYN Associates. She is married with 2 children. She loves caring for women. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel.