Conceiving not only means becoming pregnant with the offspring but it involves getting mentally prepared for the physical changes, conceiving a plan for the future of the family and becoming fearless of the challenges that accompany the decision. Some women may get pregnant at the very first try while it may be a long road for others. Having made the decision, do not get disheartened if you do not become pregnant at the time you want to be; it may take a while. The process consists of three processes- ovulation, ejaculation and conception. The course involves certain dos and don’ts to ensure safe and comfortable pregnancy and a healthy child. Allow us to take you on the fantasizing trip of information about matters related to conception. Your ‘moves’ along with our expert advice will surely lead you to the beautiful stage of pregnancy.
What Is Conception?
Conception is the first step of pregnancy and happens when the female egg and male sperm join successfully. After intercourse, it may take from hours to days to conceive. This is not as simple as it looks as many sperm are released during ejaculation but some make it to the cervical mucus of the woman. In some cases, none of them might reach the mucus and won’t cause conception. When they do, they enter the woman’s fallopian tubes and fertilize with the egg. After successful conception, certain steps are necessary to happen for a successful pregnancy.
What is the process of Conception?
Yes, there is a long process that needs to happen for a woman to become actually pregnant after conceiving. Generally, it may take hours to days for the conception to occur. The reason being the long life span of semen in the fallopian tubes but short life span of the egg. After sexual intercourse, it may take hours to days until the egg and sperm finally meet. Here is the detailed process of conception:
As per Dr. Aruna Kalra, Director of Gynaecologist & Obstetrician Department, CK Birla Hospital for women, Gurugram, every month, a group of eggs grows inside the ovaries of a woman. These are securely placed in follicles or sacs. When one of the egg comes out of this sac, it results in ovulation. The egg then travels to the female reproductive tract. Ovulation generally occurs around 2 weeks before your next menstrual cycle or say, period. If the egg doesn’t meet a sperm, it is released through the vagina and causes periods.
When the egg erupts from the sac, the follicle grows into corpus luteum. This releases a hormone that prepares the uterus for the egg by thickening the uterus lining to store the egg.
Egg goes into the fallopian tube
Next, the released egg travels to the fallopian tube and lives there for around 24-26 hours. If the egg meets a sperm there(which can live for several days inside the fallopian tube), it will fertilize. Mostly, this happens in the middle of your menstrual cycle or two weeks before your period.
This is one of the main steps of conception and pregnancy. If there is even one sperm, your egg will fertilise. After fertilization, the egg changes in order to prevent fertilization with any other sperm. If there is no sperm in the fallopian tube to fertilize, it will disintegrate and get released from the uterus. The thick lining that was formed when the egg traveled to the uterus is then shed and results in menstruation.
During fertilization, the genes of the baby get decided. It depends on the chromosomes of the sperm. If the sperm has X chromosome, it would be a baby girl and Y chromosome would give a baby boy.
Implantation of the fertilized egg
After fertilization, the egg divides itself into many cells and slowly moves into the uterus from the fallopian tube. Next, the fertilised egg is attached to the uterus lining and the implantation process occur. In some women, slight bleeding may occur during the implantation process. This shows that the uterus is getting thicker to secure the egg until the baby is born.
When implantation occurs, a pregnancy hormone- hCG is released. This hormone is tested during a pregnancy test. To find if a woman is pregnant, doctors check for hCG hormone in their blood.
Why Does Conception Matter?
Conceiving is one of the critical steps to get pregnant. Not all women can conceive owing to different reasons.
If ovulation do not take place inside the female body, she cannot conceive naturally. On the other hand, if the sperm of a man isn’t strong enough to travel to the uterus, it won’t allow fertilization of the egg that eventually means, no conception. Only if the egg and sperm meet, conception is possible.
For successful conception, the male sperm should be healthy. Only that can fertilize the egg.
There are various fertility treatments that are helping such women conceive. However, they also do not guarantee results as so many factors are involved in the process of pregnancy.
The chances of pregnancy decrease with age. There are several reasons behind this. Firstly, the number of eggs decreases with age. A woman is born with 1-2 million eggs that get used with time. The lesser number of eggs, the lower odds of getting pregnant. Menopause occurs when all the eggs are exhausted. In addition to this, the quality of eggs also changes with age. The possibility of abnormal chromosomes increases. Thirdly, increased risk of endometriosis and uterine fibroids also impact female fertility and ability to conceive.
How to improve the chances of conceiving?
Here are some tips that can help in increasing your chances of conceiving fertilized egg and become pregnant.
Start charting your menstrual cycle
If you are planning a pregnancy, you must start charting your period cycle. This would help in knowing your days of ovulation so that you can plan accordingly and allow the egg and sperm to meet. Knowing about the days when you are most fertile can help in planning for conception.
Pregnancy history is important
If you have experienced pregnancy complications, pregnancy losses and premature births in the past, you must consider them. Talk to your gynaecologist about how you can prevent these complications this time.
Schedule a preconception visit
A preconception visit is not necessary but you must take it if you are not conceiving despite several attempts. Your doctor can suggest if you are healthy and your body is ready to make a baby. This comes under pregnancy planning.
Check for hereditary diseases
One of the very important steps that most couples skip is checking their family tree. Both the partners must check for genetic or hereditary diseases such as anaemia, thalassemia, fibrosis, Down syndrome, etc. Besides, you must also get genetic screening done before pregnancy.
If you are found to have any disease or risk of any of the hereditary diseases, get treated for it before planning pregnancy. Also, you must get tested for STDs, gynaecological conditions including UTI, endometriosis, cysts, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, etc. as these tend to affect fertility and pregnancy.
Control chronic illnesses
If you have any existing health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, epilepsy, etc., get treated for it and consult your doctor on how to control the condition while planning to conceive. If your doctor gives you a green signal, you can go ahead with pregnancy planning.
Avoid exposure to radiation
Radiation can negatively impact your pregnancy. If you are planning to get pregnant, ensure that you don’t expose yourself to unnecessary radiation. For example, don’t get an x-ray done.
Watch your diet
Diet plays a crucial role in conceiving. If you are not conceiving, it could be due to your unhealthy diet. Consult a nutritionist or your gynaecologist to know what foods are best for conception. Eating a good diet would ensure a successful conception and healthy pregnancy.
Get ample amount of rest as your sleep schedule can hamper conception and fertilization. Take less stress and sleep for a good 7-8 hours to allow the body to conduct the conception. Also, avoid vigorous exercising when you are planning to conceive.