Understanding Pregnancy (Episode 1)

Dr. Tash, leading fertility expert explains how to get pregnant. For many couples, falling pregnant is not as simple as they might have expected. One in six couples have trouble conceiving. There are three ways to get pregnant - natural sexual intercourse, intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

In this episode you will learn the following:

Dr. Tash explains how to get pregnant for each of the three different ways to conceive and what exactly happens for each of them. You will learn about how important it is to get the timing of sex right in relation to the menstrual cycle. There are only a few days per cycle in which having sex can result in pregnancy. Sperm have to meet the egg within a very small window (12-24 hours) in order for conception to occur. Sperm have to make their way through the vagina, cervix, and uterus and into the correct fallopian tube (the one on the same side as the ovary that is about to ovulate / ovulated).

About this Series

Dr Tash, leading fertility & pregnancy expert explains how to get pregnant. 1 in 6 couples struggle with getting pregnant after 12 months, this series digs deep in to how you can get pregnant naturally. Sperm and egg must meet within a small 12-24 hour window within the menstrual cycle. You will learn how you can maximize your chances of conceiving and increase your chances of getting pregnant faster.

Ovulation Calculator has produced this video series with leading fertility expert, Dr Natasha Andreadis (Dr Tash).

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Video Transcript

I'm Dr. Tash, and today we'll be talking about exactly how you go about getting pregnant.

Falling pregnant can be as simple as just having sex. But for many couples it's not that simple however. Did you know that one in six couples has trouble conceiving? When we talk about problems with infertility we actually use two broad groups. We talk about the infertile group and the sub-fertile group. Infertile is like impossible meaning it could be because there's no sperm, there is no vagina, there is no cervix, there is no uterus, there are no patent or open fallopian tubes, there are no ovaries, there are no eggs coming from the ovaries. When we talk about sub-fertile we're meaning that perhaps there is some sperm, but there's less of it or it's not swimming properly. Perhaps the sperm can't get through the cervix. Perhaps there's a polyp inside the uterus. Perhaps there's a problem with one of the fallopian tubes, there could be an adhesion or some scarring. Or perhaps the woman is ovulating, but she's not doing it regularly.

So that's kind of the difference between sub-fertile and infertile. One is really quite impossible and the other one is more say probable. So what this means is that if you take 100 couples, 85 of them will be pregnant after one year, but then about 15 of them won't and perhaps they need help. They may be infertile or sub-fertile.

Broadly speaking, in practice there are three different ways that a couple may conceive - naturally, spontaneously through natural sexual intercourse, or with the assistance of a doctor like myself and that's in a laboratory where we use either intrauterine insemination or IVF. The way it all works is that an egg needs to meet the sperm. Now, you have to get the timing right and what that means is you have to have sex at the right time. Now, you can have sex every single day minus three or four days and if those three or four days fall around your fertile window you won't conceive. So it's really important to know when to have sex at the right time.

If you have sex at the right time, imagine you're a sperm. You've entered the vagina, you've been one of those very few sperm that have actually made it through the cervix because the cervix has mucus and the mucus can actually be quite receptive to sperm or not receptive at all. It's a bit like a stop sign, stop and start. When the cervix is quite receptive you'll have the go sign. It will go. The sperm will move through the uterus. Then the sperm has to be swimming through the uterus and then what it has to do is find either right or left exit because, as you know, only one ovary has a go every month and it's very important for that egg and sperm to meet in the right spot. Now, that right spot, where is it? It's in the fallopian tube. And at the same time they have to see each other, they have to have signals from one another. The sperm knows where the egg is, if it's in the right tube. There are some critical time limits. After an egg has actually left the ovary after it has ovulated it only has about 12 to 24 hours to be fertilized. The sperm can hang around in the genital tract for about five to seven days, but the key thing there is the sperm needs to be there before the egg.

So you've been trying now for a year to get pregnant and you're still not pregnant. What do you do? Well, I think it's important that you talk to somebody. Now that somebody could be your GP or a specialist doctor like a gynecologist. It's very important that you get more information on why perhaps it is that you're not conceiving. Is there anything that you can do naturally yourself at home to help you get pregnant? Because at the end of the day we all like to avoid any medical intervention. For many people medical intervention is necessary and unavoidable and thankfully there are options for you. One option is intrauterine insemination and what that involves is a man delivering sperm into a jar in a lab situation. That sperm is prepared, then put into a catheter. That catheter is then inserted into the woman's uterus. That's called intrauterine insemination. Another option is IVF. IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. "In vitro," glass in Latin, and you've probably seen a test tube in the lab when you were in high school perhaps. This is a test tube. Hence the term "test tube baby."

In vitro fertilization involves obtaining sperm from a man and at the same time you obtain eggs from a woman. Once we have obtained those eggs and that sperm we then put them together in a dish. We hope to make embryos when we've done in vitro fertilization. That's the purpose. We're creating embryos. Embryos may often sit in a little dish like this and they're incubated, they're kind of nursed in a lab for a number of days. The aim then is to put back a single embryo and then we hope that that embryo becomes a live healthy term baby.

Got a question or a comment?

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Agnes Aug 24, 2016
    My cycle is 21 days and had my period on the 7th of August. It lasted for 4days. I had sex on the 11 and 17th of August and my breast are heavy. I did a home test on the 23rd of August, but the result was negative. I want to know if am pregnant or my next cycle is due. Please, I need help.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Only a test can confirm pregnancy. If your period doesn't come by the 29th, test again. Good luck! - (Aug 24, 2016)
  2. Jennifer Sep 19, 2016
    My cycle is 31 days. My period for this month was on day 10 and lasted 4 days. When is my ovulation taking place?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It sounds like you may have had an irregular period this cycle. Try logging your cycle data into your account here and you will get a prediction. - (Sep 19, 2016)
  3. Jaribu Oct 13, 2016
    I have a 28 day cycle, but my cycle came early last month on the 25th day and ended on day 29. I had a cycle on Sep 19-23.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Many things can throw off a woman's cycle. If they become consistently irregular, I'd suggest talking to your doctor. - (Oct 14, 2016)
  4. Oluchi Oct 20, 2016
    My cycle is 30 days but my cycle came early this month that is on 13th-15th pls I want to know my fertile days.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Log your cycle dates into your account here for a prediction. Good luck! - (Oct 20, 2016)
  5. Chinyere Nov 10, 2016
    My cycle is 28 days, but my period lasted for 2 days.
  6. Adekemi Nov 14, 2016
    I think my cycle is irregular because in August it was 29 days. Sep was 28 and Oct was 3. What can I do to know when I ovulate?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you log your cycle dates into your account here, you'll get a prediction. You can also use a physical method to track ovulation, such as OPKs. - (Nov 14, 2016)
  7. Kimberly Nov 25, 2016
    I'm in the 3rd day of my fertile window, and I'm only seeing creamy cervical mucus. Is this normal?
    1. Kimberly: I got an positive OPK today, but my ovulation calculator says I ovulated on 11-27-2016. Does the positive OPK represent that I ovulated late? - (Nov 28, 2016)
  8. Rajni Nov 27, 2016
    My period date is the 28th of Nov. I want to conceive. What will be my ovalution date and when it will start? Please help me. I've been trying for 6 months, but the result is always negative.
  9. Afie Dec 22, 2016
    How can I tell if am ovulating or not ? I have been trying for a year.
    1. Christina (OC Team): You can use OPKs or look for the physical signs of ovulation https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Dec 22, 2016)
  10. Abisola Dec 24, 2016
    My cycle has been from 28, 26, 25, 27 to 26 days in the last 5 months, but my last period was on the 14th. When are my fertile days and my ovulation day. Been trying to TTC for months now.
  11. SUzy Jan 05, 2017
    Could you please help. I had my period on the 20th of Dec - 24th. My ovulation dates are the 25th -30th and now, 8 days before my next period, I'm spotting. Please advise.

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