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lining of the fallopian tube

What's happening inside

The lining of the fallopian tube, seen here, has a moist mucous membrane. This contains cells (brown) that protect the tube's surface. The hairlike cilia (blue) move the eggs along the tubes following ovulation.

If this isn't the first month you've been trying to conceive, don't be too disappointed. It's normal for it to take some time.

Have you been trying for a baby for some time? It's hard to face the fact that we don't always conceive when we want to. This lack of success may be difficult to handle, especially if you're someone who has achieved in other areas of your life.

With reproduction, there's a large element of chance. Even for young women at their peak of fertility, the odds of conceiving in any one cycle are 50-50. It's not unusual to try for six months, or even 12 months, without success. Around 16 percent of couples take over a year to achieve a pregnancy. So plan for conception over a longer time frame, say 12 months, unless you have any specific reasons to be concerned about your fertility or your health in general.

The main exception is if you are over 30. In this case, see your doctor after trying for about six months. The first step is likely to be a blood test for you, and a semen analysis for your partner. However, be reassured that if you are over 30, you may still get pregnant in the old-fashioned way. The average time taken for a 39-year-old woman to conceive is 15 months. But the snag is that if you do end up needing assisted fertility techniques, it all takes time.

Ask A... Nutritionist

I've heard that green tea will help me conceive. Is this true?

So far, studies on green tea and fertility aren't conclusive one way or the other. Overall, it's likely to benefit your health without affecting your fertility. However, although green tea has a host of health benefits, it contains small amounts of caffeine and tannic acid, both of which have (at least in large quantities) been linked to fertility problems and an increased risk of miscarriage.

Stopping contraception

You can get pregnant as soon as you stop using some contraception.

  • IUD (coil): you can get pregnant if you have sex in the week before it's removed since sperm can live 3-5 days.
  • Pill: assume you're fertile immediately. Some women seem to be extra fertile after stopping the Pill.
  • Implants: fertility can return immediately after removal of the implant, but some women find it takes longer. Occasionally periods can take three to nine months to become regular. This suggests that the effects of the hormone are still lingering, but you may still conceive.
  • Injections: irregular bleeding can continue for months, and you may not be able to conceive for several months either. However, as with implants, it's possible to get pregnant before your periods return properly.
  • IUD or IUS: you could get pregnant if you have sex in the week before removal of the IUS system, but because the system contains progesterone, conception is less likely than with a regular coil.
woman with birth control pills

When you come off the pill, you might become pregnant in the first month. If you're not ready yet, use condoms for a month or two.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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