The journey to parenthood is filled with excitement and anticipation as you wait for your positive pregnancy test and your family to grow! However, if you've been diligently tracking your ovulation and not yet achieved pregnancy, you may wonder what is going wrong. Don't fret! In this blog, we explore the possible reasons why you may not get pregnant even though you are ovulating.
How Do You Know You're Ovulating?
Before we delve into the reasons why you might not be getting pregnant, it's important to establish if you are ovulating.
Here are some common methods to know if you are ovulating:
- Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs): These kits detect the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs just before ovulation. A positive result indicates ovulation is likely to occur within the next 24-48 hours. Although this method does not confirm ovulation occurred and an egg released, it is a great tool to help identify your fertile window in anticipation of ovulation, so you can better time sex appropriately.
- Changes in Cervical Mucus: Ovulation often leads to changes in cervical mucus, making it clear, stretchy, and similar to the consistency of raw egg whites. As the hormone estrogen starts to rise prior to ovulation, you may notice a change in your cervical mucus a few days leading up to ovulation.
- Tracking Basal Body Temperature (BBT): By monitoring your BBT every morning before getting out of bed, you can identify a slight rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation due to the increase in the hormone progesterone.
Although these are three great methods to try at home that can help identify if ovulation is happening during your cycle, you can also discuss confirming ovulation with your medical provider who can do more in depth testing such as an ultrasound or blood work to confirm if an egg is released.
A Positive Ovulation Test, but No Luck
It can be disheartening to receive positive ovulation test results month after month without achieving pregnancy. Why could this be happening?
- Timing: Ovulation provides a narrow window of opportunity for conception as the egg only survives up to 24 hours once released. Even if you have a positive ovulation test, timing intercourse around ovulation is crucial. Sperm survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 2-5 days, so it's important to have regular intercourse in the days leading up to ovulation as well as on your LH peak day and ovulation day.
- Sperm Health: While ovulation is necessary for pregnancy, healthy sperm is equally important. Factors such as low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormal morphology impacts fertility. You wouldn’t necessarily know there is an issue with the sperm without testing since there are not very many signs or symptoms of low count or poor quality. If you have been TTC for 6-12 months with no success, you can discuss having your partner complete a semen analysis with your medical provider.
- Underlying Health Conditions: Certain health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or hormonal imbalances, can affect ovulation and fertility. There are many hormones that go into ovulation and they all need to be functioning together in harmony in order for a pregnancy to occur. If you are experiencing any signs of a hormonal imbalance, discuss testing with your medical provider to see if you can identify a root cause.
It's all about timing:
Timing plays a crucial role in achieving pregnancy. As mentioned above, the egg can only survive up to 12-24 hours and the sperm can survive up to 2-5 days, meaning pregnancy is not possible everyday of your cycle. It is crucial to identify your most fertile window during the cycle and plan sex during that time to optimize your chances.
Here are some tips that may help improve your chances:
- Track Your Menstrual Cycle: Understanding the length of your menstrual cycle can help determine the approximate timing of ovulation. Ovulation typically occurs around 14 days before the start of your next menstrual period in a regular 28-day cycle. However, not everyone has a 28 day cycle, you will learn what is normal for you.
- Use OPKs: This goes hand in hand with tracking your menstrual cycle. It is helpful to know how long your entire cycle lasts so you can start tracking LH levels at the right time. For your first time tracking, start using ovulation kits after your period ends in case you happen to ovulate early and may not know it. The Premom app is a great tool to read and analyze your tests, providing you with predictions based on your results.
- Regular Intercourse: To maximize the chances of conception, aim to have regular intercourse every 2-3 days throughout your menstrual cycle, especially in the days leading up to and during ovulation. The best time to have sex includes the days leading up to ovulation, plus your LH peak day and ovulation day (24 hours after LH peak).
- Relax and Enjoy: Trying to conceive can sometimes become stressful. Remember, pregnancy is a miracle and not everyone conceives the first time they try. Some healthy couples can take up to 6-12 months to conceive, so try to maintain a positive mindset, nurture your relationship, and focus on the joy and intimacy of the journey.
Common Reasons Why You're Not Getting Pregnant:
There could be a few factors that can impact one’s ability to achieve a pregnancy. Here are some common reasons:
- Age: Fertility declines with age, particularly after the age of 35. As women get older, the quality and quantity of eggs decrease, which can make conceiving a little more difficult. It is absolutely not impossible to conceive after the age of 35, however this may be a reason to seek fertility care sooner if it is taking longer than 6 months to conceive.
- Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, being overweight or underweight, and high levels of stress can all impact fertility. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques, can positively influence your chances of getting pregnant.
- Underlying Medical Conditions: Conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, and reproductive disorders like PCOS or endometriosis can affect fertility. If you know upfront that you or your partner may have a known medical condition that can affect your fertility, it is best to seek appropriate medical guidance and treatment sooner than later.
- Previous Infections or Surgeries: Infections in the reproductive organs or previous surgeries can cause scar tissue or blockages that interfere with conception. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help identify and address these issues.
If you're not getting pregnant despite confirming ovulation, it can be frustrating and disheartening. However, remember that fertility is complex and influenced by various factors. By understanding how to confirm ovulation, optimizing timing, addressing common obstacles, and seeking appropriate medical guidance, you can increase your chances of achieving pregnancy. Try to stay positive, find support, live a healthy lifestyle and remember that this journey may take a little time.
Looking to learn more about your cycles or how to get pregnant? You can download the free Premom app and have immediate access to many free blogs, videos and a community of other women on their TTC journey.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2019). Optimizing Natural Fertility. Retrieved from https://www.reproductivefacts.org/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Ovulation signs: Symptoms, methods, and tests. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/
- Office on Women's Health. (2019). Problems Getting Pregnant. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/