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Sharp Health News

Can you only get pregnant while ovulating?

Dec. 7, 2015

Can you only get pregnant while ovulating?

The time has come to start “trying” to grow your family, but the question is: when is the best time? Three days before ovulation? Only while you are ovulating? When do you ovulate?

Dr. Rick Chac, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, answers whether you can only get pregnant while ovulating, and adds some basic pregnancy knowledge to help you feel more confident in getting started.

“You can indeed only get pregnant if you ovulate. That is to say, if you don’t ovulate, then there is no egg, and thus no pregnancy,” says Dr. Chac.

How common is not ovulating? One in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility, with half being due to men’s issues and the other half women’s, according to the National Infertility Association. That is why it is so important to know the facts before traveling too far down the path to procreation.

“Ovulation is the process in which a mature egg — called an oocyte — is expelled from the ovary and begins its journey to potentially be fertilized,” describes Dr. Chac. “Pregnancy cannot occur until this mature egg is released from the ovaries.”

There are many myths regarding when ovulation occurs, and Dr. Chac adds, “It is hypothesized that early men tracked the passing of each day with the sun, but the passing of each month with the cycle of his mate.”

“The average woman will ovulate between 10 to 18 days after the onset of her 28-day cycle, if her period is regular. Day 1 starts the first day of her last period,” continues Dr. Chac. “The average ovulation date is around 14.6 days. It’s no surprise that our shortest month is 28 days, which happens to contain Valentine’s Day on the 14th.”

Dr. Chac shares common “tricks” to getting pregnant, including men opting for looser underwear. “The most important trick is getting your period to be regular. A regular cycle means regular ovulation, and thus a steady supply of mature eggs.”

Dr. Chac emphasizes that to get a regular period, you must:

  • Keep a regular and consistent sleep pattern
  • Indulge in a healthy and balanced diet
  • Stay active and exercise regularly  

“In the U.S., obesity accounts for nearly 70 percent of female menstrual irregularities,” says Dr. Chac. “Male factor infertility only accounts for 20 percent of most cases, many of which are easily treated with simple lifestyle modifications like smoking or alcohol cessation. Women have more complicated systems and therefore require a multi-factor approach.”

If your next step is to start counting the days until your next ovulation cycle, Dr. Chac recommends visiting your OBGYN to discuss your fertility options.

“I often tell my patients that in any two normal adults, natural fertility will only happen 20 percent of the time. That's why every pregnancy is such a miracle!”

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