Successful conception is dependent on a man producing a healthy sperm, which then fertilises a healthy egg from a woman. If your partner has talked about ovulation, checking mucus, checking body temperature or working out the length of her cycle and you are not entirely sure what this all means, then read on.
Ovulation is the development and release of an ovum (egg) from a woman’s ovaries. A woman is fertile around the time of the month that she is ovulating. The Ovarian cycle, which results in a woman having a menstrual period, usually occurs in cycles of approximately 28 days (though this can vary). Ovulation generally occurs at about the middle of the cycle, or 14 days before the first day of a woman’s menstrual period.
On average about two thirds of a teaspoonful of seminal fluid is expelled on ejaculation, containing about 210 – 525 million sperm. About one quarter of these sperm will be abnormal and the remaining three quarters will be capable of independent movement which is needed to reach the fallopian tube. Once the sperm enter the vagina, they will be deterred from continuing on their path by the slightly acidic vaginal secretions. Of the millions of sperm released in each ejaculation, only a few hundred will reach the female egg in the fallopian tube.
Prior to conception, an egg was released from one of your partner’s ovaries and began to travel down the fallopian tube. At the moment of conception, one of your sperm met, entered and fertilised your partner’s egg, which then sealed itself off to exclude all other sperm.
When your sperm fertilise your partner’s egg, the genes or chromosomes from each of you combine to create a cell. This cell then starts to divide, becoming a collection of cells, or blastocyst.
The blastocyst continues to divide and grow, moving down the fallopian tube until it reaches the uterus (or womb) between 3 and 7 days later. Once in the uterus, the blastocyst will implant itself into the lining of the uterus, but before this happens, a change occurs. The blastocyst creates a liquid pocket in its centre. This fluid space creates a division in the blastocyst, resulting in an inner cell mass, which will form the embryo, and an outer trophoblast, which will form the placenta.
About a week after conception, the outer cells help the blastocyst to implant or embed into the lining of the uterus so that it can seek nourishment. As a result of the hormone changes following conception, the lining of the uterus has already become thicker and has an increased blood supply in preparation for implantation. The process of implantation usually takes about one week.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO HAVING SEX?
A woman’s most fertile period is from four to five days before ovulation to 24 hours afterward. Basically, sperm cells can live for 72 hours but unless fertilised, ova survive no longer than 24 hours.
If you and your partner are trying for a baby, the best times to have intercourse are in the days immediately preceding ovulation and the day of ovulation. If your partner cannot determine when she is ovulating, one suggestion is to have intercourse every second day from day 10 to day 18 of her ovarian cycle.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PARTNER IS ANXIOUS THAT SHE HASN’T FALLEN PREGNANT YET?
- Listen to her concerns.
- Remind her that it can easily take six to twelve months to become pregnant and as you get older it can take longer.
- Join in the process of improving and creating new healthy lifestyle habits and make it fun.
- Remind your partner that this is a good opportunity to enjoy the time you have together before your life is turned upside down by a baby.
- Take a holiday together or make a point of doing things that the two of you might find harder to do when you first become parents.
- Offer to attend visits to the Health Practitioner.
You can have a look at our ovulation calculator and our conception calculator to understand when the right time for conception is. For more pregnancy tips for both you and partner, check out the rest of our site.