Starting a Family:
A Guide To Planning for Pregnancy
The steps to family planning are different for each person embarking on this path. Whether you’re planning many years into the future or are in the midst of trying to conceive, we’re here to help guide you through the process.
Modern medicine has given us the incredible technology to freeze eggs and embryos, navigate complications with fertility, and provide alternative methods of fertilization. All of this means that today’s family planning services are much different than what was available a few decades ago. With the guidance of a fertility doctor, you can make informed choices about building the family of your dreams.
Our guide to planning to have a baby covers the following topics. Feel free to skip ahead to the sections that are most relevant to you by using the links below:
Common Misconceptions About Planning to Have a Baby
Myth: Don’t Start Planning Until You’re Ready To Conceive
Unfortunately, we see many first-time patients in their late-30s and early 40s who never had family planning counseling in their prime fertility years. This lack of education may have been detrimental to their family plans.
The most common misconception about family planning is that you need to wait until you’re actively ready to have children until you begin to consider your options and take action.
Family planning is the process of preparing yourself for getting pregnant in the short and the long-term. It depends on a few things:
- Where you are in your reproductive timeline.
- If you have children already or not.
- If you're not sure if you want children, but you might want the option in the future.
Whether you’re actively trying to conceive or just beginning to dream about a future family, you’re in the throes of family planning.
The sooner you begin your family planning, the better, even if having children is not in your immediate future. If you often prioritize other life goals, like a job promotion or a move, then you might miss your main window of fertility. However, if you are able to discuss this with your doctor, you can make more informed decisions about your fertility and how to plan for the future while taking all of your life goals into account.
With current health guidelines, we're not conducting yearly pap smears for young women. And if you feel your time with your current doctor is often very brief when you do go, you may not feel like you fully understand your own fertility or have proactive counseling about this window.
Myth: Family Planning is Just Fertility Control
Too often, you might hear the words, “family planning” and have a flashback to the days of middle school sex education. What sounds like a bit of a stiff term to define such a life-altering decision is actually a large part of our mission as fertility experts.
Other people think family planning is a specific method of fertility control. But it’s really a broader term that applies to any type of family that chooses one of the many possible options for birth control, fertility treatments, and planning to have a baby.
Another common misconception about family planning is a possible religious connotation of “family planning” as a phrase.
Understand Your Fertility Options
There are many fertility clinic options available.
At Kofinas Fertility Group, we offer a unique combination of state-of-the-art fertility testing and treatments, as well as a caring, kind approach to your unique journey.
We look forward to walking with you on your fertility journey and
offering you the best care available today.
At What Age Should You Start Planning Your Family?
While we can’t give you an exact answer to this question, your fertility team should be able to give you the tools you need to make the best decision possible.
If you're not looking to have children until later in life, it might be worthwhile to consider freezing your eggs now, especially if you’re in the window of 29-31 years old with your fertility likely at its peak.
However, if you'd like to have children sooner, you might start trying as soon as you’re ready and then consult a fertility specialist if you aren’t able to conceive within about 6 months. You can always opt for egg freezing now and try naturally later. This will give you the option to use the frozen eggs in future fertility treatments if you’d like to.
How Long Does It Take the Average Couple to Get Pregnant?
Typically, if intercourse is timed around ovulation (both before and immediately after), your chance of getting pregnant is around 20-25% per cycle. This is a best-case scenario based on normal fertility. Fertility can vary a lot based on your age, reproductive health, lifestyle, and other factors.
The time it takes couples to get pregnant depends a lot on age. Over time, women’s fertility naturally declines.
This chart may be helpful for understanding how fertility changes over time. It shows the percentage of females who will likely be pregnant after 1 year and 2 years of trying to conceive, based on age:
That said, between 6 and 12% of women in the United States face infertility or impaired fecundity. If you’re struggling with infertility, there are many fertility treatments available to help you conceive.
Approach your doctor for guidance and a fertility assessment if you’re under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for one year. If you’re over 35, you should see your doctor after trying to conceive for 6 months.
If you're over 40, it's beneficial to see your OB/GYN or a fertility doctor as soon as you start trying in order to better understand your reproductive health and avoid wasting time.
What can you do pre-pregnancy to boost your chances of conceiving?
Physically Prepare For Pregnancy
Pregnancy requires a lot of your body! Here are some tips for getting physically prepared for pregnancy:
- Start a Prenatal Vitamin: During pregnancy, your body creates another human being which means that you’ll need all of the right vitamins and minerals for the baby. For this reason, many doctors recommend starting a prenatal vitamin as a part of your preconception care.
- Eat Well: Prepare your body for pregnancy by eating a healthy diet. What you eat can have an impact on your body’s hormone production. So, consider eating organically grown foods, fresh fish, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Also, avoid drugs and alcohol. Drinking alcohol can make ovulation more irregular in women and lower sperm count in men. For the best shot at conceiving, avoid these items pre-pregnancy.
- Exercise: Pregnancy can be physically taxing on the body. For this reason, it’s a great idea to get into shape before pregnancy. That way, you can maintain your strength during pregnancy and prepare for childbirth. Plus, exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight (or underweight) can negatively affect your fertility. Overweight women also run into more complications and risks during pregnancy. Exercising during pre-pregnancy can be a great way to achieve a healthier weight and enjoy a physically fit prenatal period.
Emotionally Prepare For Pregnancy
Trying to conceive and pregnancy can feel like an emotional roller coaster. With hormones raging and all the waiting, it can be a challenging journey. However, you can take steps to manage your emotions and learn to live with them in a healthy way.
One way to prepare yourself is by creating an inner circle of support people. Consider confiding in a close friend, your partner, or a family member. Lean on these people for support as you walk this journey. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing about your fertility journey with close friends and family, consider finding a therapist. It will be beneficial for you to process your feelings as you navigate all of the ups and downs of trying to conceive and pregnancy.
If you live with depression or anxiety, it is especially important to put your mental health first. Work with your mental health professional and support circle to cope with your conditions. Also, don’t forget to exercise! Even walking at a moderate pace can reduce stress and improve your mood.
Common Barriers To Getting Pregnant
If you are having trouble conceiving or decide it’s time to visit a fertility specialist, your team should conduct a comprehensive workup to determine any roadblocks to your fertility. After identifying any challenges, you’ll develop a customized plan with your doctor to move forward and restore your fertility.
How PCOS Can Impact Your Ability To Get Pregnant
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common condition that changes a woman’s hormonal levels resulting in irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Regrettably, PCOS can create challenges in the fertility process. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options that can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.
How Fibroids Can Impact Your Ability To Get Pregnant
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths of muscle in or around the uterus. Fibroids are very common and are often asymptomatic. In some cases, they can result in fertility struggles. In the best-case scenario, we catch fibroids early on and are able to remove them. It can even be done as a same-day, minimally invasive surgery that avoids a more serious procedure later on.
How Blocked Fallopian Tubes Can Impact Your Ability To Get Pregnant
During ovulation, the egg travels from the ovary through a fallopian tube to the uterus. If one or both of the fallopian tubes are blocked, it can interrupt the fertility process. A partially blocked fallopian tube also increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that attaches to a fallopian tube, the cervix, or anywhere outside the uterus.
Fortunately, all you need is one functioning fallopian tube to get pregnant naturally. Should both fallopian tubes be blocked, it is still possible to get pregnant using medical assistance.
Some common reasons for blocked fallopian tubes include:
- Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrium, or uterine lining, grows outside the uterus. Sometimes the endometrium grows in the fallopian tubes, narrowing or blocking them completely.
- STDs Some sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea can result in blocked fallopian tubes. In some cases, these infections can grow into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). The bacterial infection can cause scarring which harms the fallopian tubes.
- Abdominal Surgery If you’ve had surgery due to a prior abortion, ectopic pregnancy, or even appendicitis, your body may have developed scar tissue that blocks one or both of your fallopian tubes.
- Fibroids Sometimes, fibroids form in or close to the fallopian tubes and cause blockage.
- Cysts Ovarian cysts can form at the edges of the ovaries or in the fallopian tubes, creating fertility struggles.
How Uterine Congenital Defects or Uterine Septum Can Impact Your Ability To Get Pregnant
Conditions such as uterine congenital defects or uterine septum can be harder to detect. A uterine septum is a uterine anomaly in which a thin membrane called a septum runs through the center of your uterus. This abnormality in the uterus appears when a baby girl’s reproductive organs are forming. Other uterine congenital defects include when only half of the uterus has formed and other slight variations on the shape of the uterus.
These conditions can cause fertility struggles and miscarriage. In some cases, surgical correction of anatomical issues can restore your natural fertility or can assist in medicated treatment cycles.
Fortunately, all of the above common fertility struggles are treatable with a variety of procedures and medications.
Next Steps: What To Do If You’re Having Trouble Getting Pregnant
Thanks to modern medicine, getting pregnant even when you’re experiencing fertility struggles is more possible than ever before.
Depending on your unique situation, your fertility doctor may recommend a variety of treatment options including medications and procedures. Below, learn about some of the most common ways to increase your chances of pregnancy.
Intrauterine Insemination or IUI
In this treatment, sperm from a male donor or partner is placed into your uterus by a fertility doctor. For the best outcomes, we use a high concentration of sperm and plan the procedure around ovulation. Often, we also apply a hormone injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to trigger ovulation and raise the chances of pregnancy. IUI is a minimally invasive procedure and is ideal for women who are able to ovulate and have a healthy reproductive system.
In Vitro Fertilization or IVF
One of the most advanced fertility treatments available, in this procedure an egg is fertilized in a lab using donated or retrieved egg and sperm. Then, once developed to a certain level, the embryo is implanted into your uterus where it will attach and develop into a normal pregnancy. IVF is a wonderful treatment option for many individuals seeking to achieve pregnancy. Usually, doctors recommend this treatment after trying other, less invasive methods.
Egg Freezing and Sperm Freezing
Egg or sperm freezing is not for everyone. But anyone who is delaying their fertility should consider it. Both sperm and egg freezing are great options to preserve your fertility which naturally declines as you age.
Let's say you choose to proactively freeze your eggs at 30. You have a healthy child naturally at 33 after a few months of trying. In your mid-to-late-30s, you're breastfeeding. A few years later, you want to try to get pregnant again at 37. While you conceived naturally and easily with your first child, you might find it much more difficult now. Thankfully, you froze your eggs years ago, and you can now proceed with alternative fertility treatments as your own “egg donor.” The same is true for sperm freezing, as the quality of sperm can decrease as you age.
Every month, women are fertile a few days before and after ovulation. During ovulation, an egg moves from the ovary, through the fallopian tube, and into the uterus. Because sperm can live within the reproductive tract, they can wait a few days for an egg to appear and then fertilize it.
One way to increase your chances of pregnancy is through timed intercourse. In other words, have sex several times during your fertile period just before and after you ovulate. Typically, ovulation takes place about two weeks after you get your period. However, factors such as stress may also impact the timing. Fortunately, there are many ways to tell when you’re ovulating.
Timed intercourse can increase your chances of pregnancy as long as you aren’t experiencing another fertility complication such as blocked fallopian tubes or a uterine septum.
Planning Your Pregnancy with Kofinas Fertility Group
Your goal is to start a family, and our life’s work is to make that happen. Here at Kofinas Fertility Group, the best fertility clinic in New York, we’re true experts in fertility medicine, and every solvable fertility situation is within our capability. We won’t send you away for tests, exams, surgery or any other aspect of your fertility care, for the simple reason that nobody does it better than we do.
We give each couple or individual a personalized care plan that offers the optimal chance for a successful pregnancy, and we provide you with care and capability from the forefront of fertility medicine. Quite simply, we will do whatever’s necessary to allow you to experience the joy of having a child.
Interested in Learning More?
Are you ready to begin your fertility journey?
Obtaining the necessary fertility testing and diagnosis will help you achieve your reproductive goals. Choosing the fertility doctor who will support you in this process is paramount to achieving your goals. Equally important, the right fertility clinic will support you with empathetic care as you progress on your journey.
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