For years, you had a love/hate relationship with your period. Loved it because it meant you weren't pregnant, hated it because no explanation needed.

Fast forward.

You're young, in love, and trying to conceive. And all of a sudden well, you're not loving it so much.

You might usually hear about older adults who have trouble conceiving, but young couples can have problems, too. Karen Carloy, a nurse practitioner at West Valley Medical Center, has these tips for young couples trying to conceive.

Q: Why do young couples have trouble getting pregnant?

Karen Carloy: It's not usually a fertility problem. About half of all couples who are having trouble conceiving don't quite understand the best practices or aren't educated about becoming pregnant.

Q: What types of things do they not understand?

Karen: Some couples don't realize how often they might need to try. They might have intercourse only twice a month, and that's not going to result in a strong chance of pregnancy.

I've also had people ask about if there are certain positions they should try, but no position increases the chance of pregnancy.

Four simple lifestyle changes to improve fertility: Quit smoking, don't drink excessively, get to a healthy weight, and exercise daily.

Q: How often and when should couples have sex?

Karen: We recommend every 1 to 2 days, but be sure to give yourself a little break. Sex morning, noon, and night can be counterproductive.

Q: Should couples go to a fertility specialist?

Karen: Not right away. Your first step should be to see your OB/GYN. She can do a test to make sure you're ovulating and prescribe medication if you are not. If your partner is concerned about his role in fertility, a urologist can usually test his sperm to see if there are issues.

Q: If a couple has tried for a few months, do they need to panic yet?

Karen: No need to panic. About 85% of young couples who are healthy and trying correctly will conceive within a year.

Q: Does previous birth control use make it harder to get pregnant?

Karen: Nope. Using birth control in the past has zero impact on your fertility now. We're in the baby business. We would not prescribe birth control if it meant people would have trouble having babies later.

Q: What emotional problems can couples experience when they're having fertility issues?

Karen: Couples may experience frustration, depression, or emotional stress. Sometimes, this can lead to sexual relations becoming more like a chore.

Q: How can you avoid that?

Karen: Don't set expectations. Sex doesn't always have to be long and romantic remember that a “quickie” can get the job done. It's often the preconceived notions that make sex seem more like a job.

Q: If a couple does conceive but has an early miscarriage, will they be able to get pregnant again?

Karen: Absolutely. Women do not have a higher chance of miscarrying just because they have experienced a miscarriage. While this event can be very discouraging, I like to remind my patients that miscarriages are extremely common.

Twenty years ago, we didn't have early detection tests. Women might not have even known that they had miscarried. They could have thought they missed a period, then had a really heavy one.

Q: How long after a miscarriage should a couple wait before trying again?

Karen: For years, physicians told couples to wait a year. Then, it went down to six months, and then three months. Now, the consensus is that you don't necessarily have to wait. We recommend waiting for one more menstrual cycle, but it's okay if you don't.

The menstrual cycle and fertility: Phase 1, your period. Phase 2, two to three weeks after your period starts ovulation, where eggs move into the fallopian tube to be fertalized by sperm. Phase 3, about two weeks after ovulation, unfertalized egg dies and leaves the body during the period. You are more likely to get pregnant if you have sex from 5 days before ovulation until 1 day after.

Q: What makes the struggle different for younger couples?

Karen: Society is more focused on older couples who haven't conceived, and there isn't as much community support for younger couples. Young people are often told, “It's okay, you're young.” It's meant to be reassuring, but it doesn't always help people feel better.

Young people may also feel pressure from watching their friends get pregnant, or from having friends and family members constantly ask them about having kids.

Q: What should young couples do if they're not quite ready to get pregnant but want to prepare?

Karen: It's always good to plan ahead, even a few years in advance. Talk to your OB/GYN about how to get your body healthy and prepared. You can also start taking prenatal vitamins. They won't help you get pregnant, but they'll help with a healthy pregnancy early on.

Ready to start planning for your own bundle of joy? Make an appointment with one of our qualified women's health providers.

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