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Fertility: Physical examination

Before you and your partner start trying to get pregnant, it is important to book a “health before pregnancy” check-up with your health care provider. Both men and women benefit from a check-up prior to pregnancy. If you or your partner has not had infections such as chicken pox or rubella (German measles), you need to be immunized before pregnancy. Screening for sexually transmitted infections can also be done. If you have had problems with a previous pregnancy, have a medical condition or are taking drugs, you may need specialized care before, during and after pregnancy.

While you are booking your “health before pregnancy” check-up with your health care provider, book one with your dentist. Dental problems and infections can lead to serious consequences for both the mother and the baby during pregnancy. It is best to ensure your dental health before conception.

Am I ready for a pregnancy?

Much goes on when you start getting ready to have children. You and your partner have a lot to think about and to discuss. You search for family planning tips. You start asking friends for what they know about babies. But pregnancy becomes more real as you start preparing your body for pregnancy.

From birth control to pregnancy

Barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms and sponges stop the sperm from reaching the egg but do not interfere with ovulation. An egg is still released each month. When you have thought things through and are ready to get pregnant, simply stop using these forms of birth control.

Normal fertility should return soon after you've had your intrauterine device or system (IUD) taken out. To have it removed, make an appointment with your Health Care Provider.  It is best to wait until you have at least one normal period before trying to become pregnant.

If you have been using birth control pills, patches, ring or shots, you may have questions. “When do I stop this type of birth control? What should I know?”

There are many different kinds of hormonal birth control using hormones to prevent women from getting pregnant. Some work better for some women, others work better for others. That is because women’s bodies are not all the same – you really are one of a kind. So you can expect that your body will have its own unique way of responding when you stop using hormonal birth control.

  • There is no way to tell how long it will take you to get pregnant based on the time you have been using hormonal birth control type. But some basic information can be counted on to help ease your mind while you make your way to parenthood.
  • You do not have to wait a long time for the pill, patch or ring to leave your system. However, it is recommended that you allow yourself at least one normal menstrual cycle before you try and become pregnant.
  • If you become pregnant while using hormonal birth control stop using it right away. Don't worry. There are no known effects to the baby if you become pregnant while taking the pill or using another hormonal birth control method.
  • A small number of women might find it takes longer to get pregnant. This is not linked to using the birth control pill.
  • If you have had the “shot”, then you should wait at least 6 - 9 months after your last injection before trying to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about bridging the gap between the pill and pregnancy with other birth control.

Baby in waiting… staying with birth control

If you decide to stop using hormonal birth control, but are not ready for a pregnancy, you will need to find out...

About all the choices that would suit your needs and your partner’s needs.

  • How to use the different forms of birth control.
  • How much each costs.
  • Where to buy birth control.
  • How well the different birth control methods work.
  • Talk to your health care provider about bridging the gap between the pill and pregnancy with other birth control.

The time is now

  • Are you ready to handle pregnancy when it happens – either right away or sometime in the next year? To know for sure, make these plans:
  • I will set up realistic time frames.  I will be ready if pregnancy happens quickly. But if pregnancy takes many months, I will be prepared for the time that it takes.
  • I will learn more about what affects my ability to get pregnant – my fertility.
  • I will be open with my partner about my feelings towards birth control and how we can handle it together.
  • I will...

Knowing your fertile time

Your body works like clockwork for most women. Most couples can count on this for the best chance to bring egg and sperm together. This union means fertility –i t means you can get pregnant. Because you can chart this fertile time, you can plan a pregnancy to happen when your body, relationships and your life are at their healthiest.

Using a calendar to track your fertile time

If you want to become pregnant, you will want to have sex during your most fertile time – during ovulation. But when is this? Many women can learn how to predict it. Track your periods for more than 2 months. Any calendar will do. The more menstrual cycles you track, the more likely you will be able to see your pattern of fertility.

1. Decide how many months you want to track.

2. Put a “P” on the days you have your period each month, starting with the first day you bleed.

3. Count the number of days in each cycle. Count from the 1st day of one period to the day the next period begins. Write this number down under each month in your calendar.

4. Next count back 14 days from the start of each period for every month you tracked. Mark an X. The X marks the day you are most likely to have released an egg during that cycle. You should also mark an X on the other possible fertile days. This could be 2 days earlier or 2 days later. As each one of us is unique, it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact day and is helpful to mark all of these days as possibly fertile.

5. Pay attention to your vaginal discharge. Fertile mucus is clear, sticky and there’s lots of it! The only time of the month you have this particular discharge is during ovulation.

What all couples should know

  • 95% of healthy couples under the age of 35 are able to get pregnant within 1 year of trying.
  • Pregnancy is more likely to happen when sex takes place around the time that an egg is released from the ovary.
  • After an egg is released it lives for about 12-24 hours.
  • Sperm can live up to 5 days in a woman’s reproductive tract.
  • A woman is most likely to release an egg (ovulate) 14 days before the start of her period.
  • Having sex too often can decrease sperm counts in men. If you are trying to get pregnant, have sex every couple of days around the time of ovulation.
  • Healthy eating, getting enough sleep, being active and getting a handle on stress helps to keep your sex organs healthy.
  • Try this pregnancy calculator at:

Regular vs. irregular

  • How long are your cycles (from the start of 1 period to the start of the next period)? Are they about the same length each month? If yes, then your periods are “regular” and ovulation is easier to predict because it happens close to the same time each cycle.
  • Do your cycles vary a lot in length? Then they are irregular, making it harder to know when ovulation will occur.
  • Which day did you ovulate in each cycle if you count from the first day of each period? You’re most fertile time starts a day or 2 before your ovulation day and ends a day or 2 after.
  • Does this number stay the same each cycle? Then you are regular. Is this number different each cycle? This makes it harder to predict when you will ovulate, but not impossible.
  • Changing cycles
  • Some women do not have regular cycles – here is an example: over 3 months you find one cycle is 28 days long, another is 24 and another is 36 days long. For each cycle subtract 14 days to find out when you may have ovulated.

28 day cycle – 14 = 14
In this cycle, you likely ovulate on the 14th day after the start of your period.

24 day cycle – 14 = 10
In this cycle, you likely ovulate on the 10th day after the start of your period

36 day cycle – 14 = 22
In this cycle, you likely ovulate on the 22nd day after the start of your period.

The egg lives only 24 hours, but because sperm can live up to 5 days, the day you have sex is not the only time when the sperm and egg can meet.

When you have irregular cycles, you will find it much harder to figure out fertile times than someone with regular cycles. You might want to look into other ways of predicting your fertile times. Speak to your health care provider about measuring your body temperature and watching for changes in discharge from the vagina. It is a good idea to review your pregnancy plans with physicians or nurses who work on fertility issues.



Health care provider:

Local public health unit: 1-800-267-8097

Fertility clinic:


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