During a woman’s cycle, the egg released by a woman’s ovaries only survives for 24 hours. The implication of this is that pregnancy only has the potential to happen one day per month! Does this mean that a woman must have sex on ovulation day in order to become pregnant? Most definitely not – because sperm can survive for 3 to 5 days in a woman’s fallopian tubes, after intercourse. This means that even if a woman had sex 4-5 days before ovulating, she can still become pregnant. The theory is that as long as a woman figures out the day she ovulates, she can prevent or improve the chances of a pregnancy happening. Unfortunately, telling the exact day of ovulation is elusive. There are tools that a woman can use to give her some indications of ovulation, but they are not exact. An example is measuring basal body temperature before getting out of bed every morning and looking for a slight increase in temperature (less than 0.5 of a degree). In order to avoid pregnancy, a woman must avoid having sex from the beginning of her period till 3-4 days after she has noticed the rise in temperature. Examining the amount and consistency of one’s cervical mucus can be another helpful clue that ovulation is about to take place. When this discharge increases and feels more like egg white, it is a clue that the woman is in her fertile window (aka ovulation is taking place). Another tool to assist in identifying when the egg is released from the ovary, is an ovulation predictor kit. These tests track the level of luteinizing hormone in a woman’s urine. This hormone will increase before ovulation, thus providing a woman a better idea of when she is likelier to become pregnant. However, an ovulation kit is not fail-proof. There are instances when it can be hard to interpret, and they can’t predict an exact day when ovulation occurs. Some women will ovulate one or two days after the surge, and then there are women who have a couple of smaller surges before a larger one. In order for any (or all) of these tools to be most helpful, the woman should use them for multiple cycles, learning to recognize the patterns of her cycle and how her body feels/functions.
What else contributes to a pregnancy?
Other factors contributing to pregnancy center around birth control, such as: being sexually active without using any, failure rates, inaccurate assumptions, and experiencing unwanted side effects. Many women who use birth control are not aware of how strictly they must follow the instructions in order for the method to work. Many neglect to take their pills at the same time every day. Several don’t know that there are sperm in the pre-ejaculate fluid, and this can result in pregnancy. Some women assume that any form of birth control is 100% effective, but even when used perfectly, all birth control methods (other than not having sex) fail. According to the FDA, the birth control methods that have the least failure rate are: sterilization surgery (aka. having one’s tubes tied), IUD, and having an implant put in. For each of those three methods, the expected pregnancy rate is less than 1 out of 100 women. Depo-Provera shots have an expected pregnancy rate of 6 out of 100 women, if taken every 3 months. Oral contraceptives (the pill), the patch and the vaginal ring, each have an expected pregnancy rate of 9 out of 100 women, if used as directed. The diaphragm with spermicide has an expected pregnancy rate of 12 out of 100 women, while the use of a sponge with spermicide has an expected pregnancy rate of 12-24 women out of 100. 17-23 women out of 100 are expected to become pregnant when using a cervical cap with spermicide for birth control, and 18 out of 100 women are expected to become pregnant if the male partner is using a condom. If the female partner is using a female condom for birth control, the expected pregnancy rate is 21 women out of 100. Use of spermicide alone carries an expected pregnancy rate of 28 women out of 100. Fertility awareness –based methods have a 2-23% failure rate (2-23 out of 100 women are expected to become pregnant).
Experts who have written on fertility and pregnancy have stated that :
- the probability of one random sexual act ending in pregnancy is about 1 in 20.
- 85% of women who have sex without any form of birth control become pregnant after a year of being sexually active, even if the sexual activity is sporadic.
If you find yourself potentially pregnant, know that Ava is here to help. We have helped many women who have traveled this road, just like you. If you’re looking for help navigating this moment in your life, please know that we are here and ready to step beside you. Schedule an appointment with us today. You are not alone.