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Getting Pregnant Can Be Harder Than It Looks

Getting Pregnant Can Be Harder Than It Looks

Do Any Tricks Work?

Mustering the patience until you conceive is often easier said than done. Standing on your head after intercourse, hanging upside down by moon boots, hypnosis -- they're all examples of measures that couples might only reluctantly admit to.

A British study even shocked the medical community by claiming recently that a late afternoon roll in the hay is the optimum time for conception because that's when female hormones that affect fertility and sperm count and potency are at peak levels.

So far, however, experts say there isn't enough evidence to prove that any particular positions, time of day or activity after intercourse make a difference.

"Remaining supine for a couple of minutes is more than adequate," Dr. Stillman says. As for that romantic little getaway? "There's nothing wrong with maintaining romance, or even a sense of humor, while trying to conceive, but a candle at the head of your bed is probably as useful as a candle at the Four Seasons, and it's a whole lot less expensive."

The fact is, there's still only one way to get pregnant -- by a sperm fertilizing the woman's egg, which can happen for only about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation -- approximately 14 days before the end of a woman's monthly cycle. Ovulation sometimes can be harder to predict if a woman's cycles are irregular. And for women who are getting older, monthly cycles first get shorter, then longer the closer they get to menopause.

Common signs of ovulation are increases in vaginal mucus discharge and abdominal discomfort on either side of the pelvis (called "mittelschmerz"), but most women usually aren't attuned to those signs, says Dr. Zinaman.

To minimize the guesswork and help you get pregnant as quickly as possible, drug stores now carry a handy home test called an ovulation predictor kit, which range from about $15 to $40. Using a urine sample, the ovulation predictor kit measures the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) that increases significantly before ovulation, giving couples about a day or two's notice of a woman's most fertile period and maximizing the chances of conception. In addition, the maker of the Clearplan Easy ovulation predictor kit is introducing an even more high-tech gizmo that claims to give couples a six-day window of opportunity for conceiving. This handheld computer tests and records a woman's LH and estrogen levels by reading a urine sample stick, and notifies her of low, high and peak fertility times. The device retails for about $200, plus $50 for a package of 30 test sticks.

These kits definitely beat the old-fashioned method of charting your temperature, which not only has the potential to drive a woman -- and her spouse -- nuts, but which isn't even very effective because by the time you notice a temperature change, you've already ovulated and it's too late to conceive. "It was kind of like watching a calendar, but not quite as tense because you know you have one or two days," says Karabaic, who used one of these kits before getting pregnant. "It's as obsessive as I got about tracking the best time to get pregnant because I knew that it would be counterproductive."

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