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    Getting Pregnant Can Be Harder Than It Looks

    Getting Pregnant Can Be Harder Than It Looks

    Do Any Tricks Work? continued...

    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."

    Clearing Your Head

    There are some relatively controllable factors that may be slowing down a couple's ability to conceive. For women, they include being too overweight or underweight, eating disorders, excessive exercise, smoking and drinking. For men, smoking and drinking also can reduce sperm count, as can marijuana use and even hot tubs. However, there are also a lot of old wives' tales out there, too. There's no merit, for instance, to common folklore cautioning men that briefs hinder sperm production more than boxer shorts.

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