Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions which have been asked by Getting Pregnant visitors on the message boards:

(We do not offer the option for readers to email us specific questions; we're not doctors (see our disclaimer) so are not qualified to give such information.)

Every month around ovulation time I get thrush. Could this be preventing me from conceiving?

It's unlikely that yeast infections are preventing you directly from conceiving as medical opinion seems to indicate they shouldn't affect the pH balance of the vagina that much. BUT if you're treating the infection at the time of ovulation, the medication could affect your vaginal mucus making it hostile to sperm. And there's always the possibility that having the infection makes you feel uncomfortable and so puts you off having intercourse at that time.
When you get an infection, make sure both you and your partner are treated, otherwise you'll just keep re-infecting each other.

How early can I do a pregnancy test? If I've had a negative but my period hasn't started, can I test again

As explained in our page on the Female Reproductive System, for a pregnancy test to show a positive, the embryo has to be implanted in the womb and producing enough hCG for the test to pick it up. So the first time marker is fertilisation occuring within 24-48 hours of ovulation, and then the blatocyst then has to travel down the fallopian tube, which takes a week or so. It then has to implant, and start producing the hCG. So the earliest any hCG can be present is 8 or 9 days post ovulation. But even then the levels will be very low and undetectable; they increase quite rapidly from then onwards, but it will still be a few days before they're high enough to be detected. So that's why, as a rough guide, it's generally considered to be when your period is due that the point at which there's enough hCG to be detected will have been reached. A study found last year though that even at the point the period was due, in 10% of pregnancies the embryo hadn't yet implanted, so it would be several days after the period due date that a test would show positive.

Some people may get a positive a few days before their period (3 for example), but that may well be too soon in many pregnancies and it may be necessary to test again when the period is due, and then maybe even a few days after that. It's important to bear in mind that a negative test can be wrong, but a positive one never is. Also, only take the reading that is given within the timeframe specified in the manufacturer's instructions - after a few hours the tests are often invalid.
(Getting Pregnant readers can buy packs of 10 pregnancy test kits at a special rate - click here for more details)

All the sperm seems to run out of me straight away. Is this preventing me from getting pregnant?

It is primarily seminal fluid which runs out - the sperm are surrounded by this when in the testes, but, as long as you have fertile mucus, they have a good chance of attaching themselves to that to travel towards the uterus and fallopian tubes. So it is unlikely to be delaying your conception significantly. You might find it helps to put a pillow under your bottom though to tilt your pelvis back a little, and also to lie still for at least twenty minutes after intercourse.

I'm overweight / underweight (we've been asked both) - will this affect my ability to conceive?

Being significantly over- or underweight can affect the body's normal hormonal function and in extreme cases halt ovulation altogether.

If underweight, the body decides it could not maintain a pregnancy so it shuts down the reproductive system. And studies have shown that if overweight, losing just 10 per cent can increase your chances of conception.

Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of conceiving a boy, or of conceiving a girl (depending on preference!)?

We have yet to address this topic fully, but in the meantime, some of our readers have recommended a book on the subject - click here for full details.

I have a particularly long cycle / short cycle / my cycles are irregular (we've been asked all of these). Will that affect my chances of conceiving?

The main thing when you're trying to conceive, is knowing that you're ovulating, and when.

Irregularity makes this more important because the time of ovulation will be changing along with the length of the cycle, but apart from that, being irregular is not a problem as long as ovulation is occurring.

Similarly, "long" or "short" cycles aren't a problem, as long as you know when ovulation is occurring, and - in the case of a short cycle - as long as there isn't a luteal phase defect.

So if you're concerned about the length of your cycle, or if you're irregular, the most important thing to do is start understanding when you're ovulating. Natural Fertility Management really is the best option here as ovulation kits can prove expensive if you're using them at the wrong time. If after three months of NFM you're still not clear about what's going on during your cycle, that's the time to think about going to your doctor.

I've just come off the contraceptive pill or injection. How long will it be before ovulation and menstruation begin properly so I have a chance of conceiving?

Well, when we first started taking them, we all had it imprinted on our brains that if we forgot to take just one pill, we'd end up getting pregnant. But of course once we really do want to conceive and come off the contraceptive pill or injection, we sometimes find it takes a while for our bodies to sort themselves out and there doesn't seem to be much chance of conceiving at all during that time!

When on the pill the bleeding experienced each month is known as "breakthrough bleeding" and isn't true menstruation which only follows ovulation.

Most doctors would probably say it should only take a few months (3 maximum), but many Getting Pregnant visitors - particularly to the message board - report it taking much longer than this for menstruation and ovulation to re-start. Unfortunately you can't even use Natural Fertility Management during this time because the residual contraceptive hormones make it difficult to get any accurate temperature readings or consistency in cervical fluid.

If it has been several months and things still don't appear to have settled down, it is worth getting medical advice. If the situation continues, there are drugs that can be given to kick start you, although you may not get these immediately. Bear in mind that once you are experiencing regular cycles, you still won't necessarily conceive immediately.

Visit our forum and get the answers to all of your questions.

Login to comment

Post a comment