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Getting Pregnant


Guest Editor: Meagan Morrison

Dr. Morrison gives us the lowdown on egg count, odds of getting pregnant each month, and if an ovulation kit is actually necessary.

How your egg count affects your fertility

How many eggs am I born with? Does that impact my chances of pregnancy?

We’re born with all the eggs we’ll ever have in our lifetime, so our ability to get pregnant is at its greatest when we're younger just by default. By the time you get to your first period, you’ve already lost many of the eggs you were born with – but don’t worry, there are more than enough left.

You’re born with approximately one million eggs. By the time you reach puberty, you have around 300,000 left. And even though you’re losing eggs every day, you’ll still ovulate about 300-400 eggs throughout your reproductive years. Obviously, the majority of those won’t be fertilized. So, the number of eggs you have is generally more than enough for your pregnancy goals. Age and other factors can certainly change this, but that’s something you and your doctor should discuss early on.

How likely you are to conceive every month

Assuming I have no known fertility issues, what are my chances of getting pregnant?

For a couple having regular unprotected intercourse, your chance of having a baby is less than 25%. Now, consider that some couples have sex all the time. Other people have sex just once and conceive. Another couple might have sex just every few weeks. And in all those situations, it’s still just under 25% of the time that a baby will be born – these statistics don’t include miscarriages

Part of your chances are due to your ovulation window. Your ovulation window is usually anywhere from 10 to 14 days after the first day of your period. Let's say today is your first day, 10 to 14 days from today, you're going to start ovulating. That’s when sex is most likely to lead to a pregnancy. Some advice says to have sex every day, or to have it every other day, but it’s not as specific as that. Just try and get some sex in during that window and you’ll be okay. There’s one egg and it can release at any point during that window, so exact timing is difficult.

What makes an ovulation kit really worth it

Should I buy an ovulation kit if I have a regular period?

If you are actively trying to conceive, the situation where an ovulation kit would be the most help is if you don’t have a regular menstrual cycle.

For women whose period comes every 24 days one month and every 32 the next, an ovulation kit is going to help you pinpoint that window where your chances of conception are at their highest. But if you’re someone who runs like clockwork with a regular 28-day cycle, you probably don’t need the kit.

I would recommend an ovulation kit if your period has a range of plus or minus a week. In terms of getting pregnant, a week can be the difference between hitting that window or not.

As always, if you have any other questions or concerns about conception, never hesitate to reach out to your regular OBGYN. They can advise you or refer you to a specialist if needed. Waiting to get that positive test result can be a very stressful time, so go easy on yourself as you start this exciting journey to motherhood!

Dr. Meagan Morrison (@mymorrison) is an OBGYN at Atrium Health in North Carolina.

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