Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 12/24/20
Becoming a mom is something many of us dream of when we’re younger. However, for many women the journey to motherhood can be much more challenging than imagined.
These are four steps you can take to get prepped for pregnancy to make your trying to conceive journey as easy as possible.
1. Confirm successful ovulation
Whether you’re cycling regularly or are coming off hormonal birth control, confirming successful ovulation is a critical first step to pregnancy. After all without an egg, conception just is not possible. In fact, ovulatory disorders are the #1 cause of infertility.
“Successful” ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg is released and PdG levels remain adequately elevated for long enough after ovulation to allow for the best possible chance at conception. PdG is a urine metabolite of progesterone — the hormone produced by the empty follicle from which the egg was released, responsible for making the uterine lining “sticky” enough for an embryo to implant.
You can confirm successful ovulation with Proov, the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home. Proov testing protocol recommends testing PdG levels on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 after peak fertility. Three or four positive tests during this window confirm that successful ovulation did in fact occur and ovulatory disorders likely aren’t preventing you from conceiving.
Proov is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home.
On the other hand, if your Proov results show anything less than three positives - or if levels drop before 10 days past ovulation, this could be a sign of unsuccessful ovulation, in which case you can try natural PdG-boosting remedies or talk to your doctor. If you never get a positive Proov test, this could be a sign of anovulation and we recommend consulting your doctor.
2. Check your partner’s sperm
It’s no secret that it takes two to tango and this is especially true when it comes to trying to conceive! Without sperm to fertilize an egg, conception is not possible. To optimize your chances of conception, it’s important to check your partner’s sperm before starting to try.
Male factor infertility is the cause of 40-50% of all infertility cases. It can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages preventing the delivery of sperm.
There are two important parts to sperm quality: sperm count and sperm motility. Sperm count refers to the amount of sperm in semen. A low sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen) can decrease the chances of one of the sperm fertilizing the egg. Sperm motility, on the other hand, describes the ability of the sperm to reach where it needs to go — i.e. the egg.
Most at-home sperm tests only measure sperm count and while this can be a great place to start, it doesn’t provide any information surrounding motility. Because of this, we like the Yo Home Sperm Test which measures count and motility. (Bonus! You can use the code MFB5 at checkout to get $5 off a Yo kit.)
If your home sperm test results come back fine, then your guy is all good to go! If not, there are a few at-home methods you can try to improve sperm quality, including diet or lifestyle changes, using a sperm-friendly lubricant, or having him wear loose-fitting boxers. As always, if you have any concerns regarding your partner’s sperm, we recommend consulting your doctor.
Male factor infertility is the cause of 40-50% of all infertility cases.
3. Track your cycle to time intercourse correctly
Once both parts of the conception equation are taken care of, it’s time to focus on how we bring sperm and egg together — intercourse! Contrary to what you might have learned in middle school sex ed, there are only a few days each cycle when you can actually get pregnant.
The time in your when intercourse is mostly to result in conception are the few days leading up to and the day of ovulation. This is referred to as your fertile window or peak fertility. Getting a grasp on your most fertile days before you even start trying to conceive can help you get pregnant faster.
Luckily, there are several peak fertility tracking methods you can try.
Ovulation tests — also commonly known as ovulation predictor kits or OPKs — measure luteinizing hormone (LH), which surges about 24-36 hours before ovulation and triggers a follicle to release an egg. Once you get a positive ovulation test, you can assume that ovulation is coming and that you should start having intercourse. You can try Proov LH Tests here!
Cervical mucus monitoring
Cervical mucus monitoring involves tracking the changes in cervical mucus consistency during different parts of your cycle. During the majority of your cycle, cervical mucus is dry and sticky. However, on the few days leading up to ovulation, cervical mucus becomes wet and stretchy, often resembling egg whites. Once your cervical mucus changes from dry to wet, this is a good indication that ovulation is coming and you should start having intercourse.
Basal body temperature (BBT) tracking
Basal body temperature tracking involves measuring the small changes in your body’s lowest resting temperature before and after ovulation occurs. BBT typically ranges between 97.0 and 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Before your ovary releases an egg, BBT will slightly dip. Then the day after ovulation, BBT will increase about 0.2 degrees and remain elevated for several days. The best time to measure BBT is right after you wake up in the morning before you get out of bed. It’s important to maintain a consistent time that you measure BBT each morning.
Peak fertility refers to the few days leading up to and day of ovulation, when intercourse is most likely to result in conception.
4. Start building healthy habits
Starting with a healthy lifestyle can increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Incorporating healthy habits into your routine now will set you up for success later on.
Find ways to manage stress
We know — managing stress is easier said than done! However, stress increases cortisol production, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is produced in the same hormone pathway as progesterone, which is an important hormone in conception and pregnancy. When your body is stressed and needs more cortisol it will “steal” progesterone from your reproductive system to make it. This can lead to a hormone imbalance that can make it more difficult to get pregnant.
Eat more fertility-friendly foods
There are some nutrients that are important when trying to conceive, including iron, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and zinc. Before you start trying, you can incorporate foods like whole grains, beans, fish, and spinach into your diet, among others. If you have specific questions about nutrients important for you, we recommend consulting your doctor.
Be proactive with healthcare
Speaking of doctors, visiting yours early can help you identify any issues that may prevent you from conceiving sooner rather than later. Having open conversations with your doctor early on can help you form a plan for getting pregnant.
Take a prenatal vitamin
Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins designed specifically for women, to help the increased nutrient needs women have during and after pregnancy.
With these four steps, you can ensure you’re prepared to start trying when you and your partner are ready to grow your family!