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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What to do before you start trying
Chapter 2: Supplements, exercise, and the SOS diet
Chapter 3: Not the kind of egg that comes in a carton: How to figure out when you ovulate
Chapter 4: Horizontal mambo: The best time to dance the baby dance
Chapter 5: Choosing the sex of your baby
Chapter 6
: Not as scary as you’ve heard: The real stats on age and fertility
Chapter 7: “If one more person tells me to ‘just relax’ …” The psychological side of getting pregnant
Chapter 8: Peeing on more sticks: The two-week wait and when to test for pregnancy
Chapter 9: Sad endings: Miscarriage
Chapter 10: Going in: When to see your doctor and what to expect when you do
Chapter 11: Congratulations, and get ready to go to bed at 8pm: After you’re pregnant


From Chapter 1: Planning when to get pregnant, and how long it might take

If we IWs waited until the perfect time to get pregnant, with nothing pressing on our schedules, we’d end up like the woman in the cartoon who says “I can’t believe I forgot to have children!” But many of us do have good and bad times during the year for our careers, or travel plans, or friends’ weddings we don’t want to be fat (or barfing) for. Which of these, if any, to make a priority is a personal choice. One possibility is to identify a good time to start trying and plan for it, realizing that you want to allow at least a 3 to 4 month window to get pregnant.

Choose your first month of trying very carefully – don’t automatically assume it will take 6 months to get pregnant. A lot of books and websites say that the chances of pregnancy each cycle are only 15% to 25% if you’re younger than 35 and 5% to 10% if you’re older. Many also say that it takes a 30-year-old woman an average of 7 months to get pregnant. I have no idea where these statistics come from, because according to the published research, they’re wrong. One study found that women in their late 20s or early 30s who had sex at least twice a week got pregnant, on average, within 3 months. For those 35-39, the average was 4 months. Another found that women in their late 20s or early 30s who had sex two days before ovulation – and only on that cycle day – got pregnant 35% of the time. The odds are even higher if you can predict your ovulation using the techniques I’ll reveal in Chapter 3: Between 67% and 76% of women under 35 who were aware of their fertile time conceived in the first month. If you use the methods of fertility awareness I describe in this book, you have a good chance of getting pregnant the very first time you try. So make sure that that first cycle isn’t too early for what you’re planning. But also realize that you might not get lucky the first time, and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. (Plus your husband will be thrilled to keep trying a little longer).

If you’ve already been trying for longer than 3 months, PLEASE don’t panic. It’s very possible you’re just timing things wrong – even if you’ve been using ovulation predictor kits, a fertility monitor, or charting, your timing can still be off. Chapter 4 tells you how to pinpoint you’re the best time to have sex – which is not when many sources say it is. It’s also possible you just haven’t hit the right month yet. Even the study finding 3/4 of women getting pregnant right away found that it took the rest took anywhere between 2 and 7 months even when they were timing things exactly right.

What guys can do
So what can your guy do to speed things along? A lot of the same things that you’re doing to get healthy – and preferably several months before you start trying, as men make sperm in 74 day cycles (that’s about two and a half months). That means no smoking, no recreational drugs, and no heavy drinking or caffeine use. It’s probably also a good idea for him to take a multivitamin – make sure it includes vitamin E and zinc, both of which are important for sperm production.

Thankfully, briefs men don’t have to become boxer men (or freeball men) when they’re trying to become fathers – tighty whitey briefs don’t adversely affect male fertility. Yes, someone actually studied this, in a paper in the Journal of Urology titled “Are boxer shorts really better? A critical analysis of the role of underwear type in male subfertility.” (I promise you that I am not making this up.). The paper uses terms like “disordered testicular thermoregulation,” which has just the right connotation of male anatomy being a finely tuned rocket. Despite the funny terms and topic, this was a well-designed experiment that looked a scrotal temperatures, sperm count, and lots of other variables, and showed that sperm count wasn’t affected by “underwear type.” The study authors provide an interesting theory on why underwear type doesn’t matter: “… the supportive effect of brief type underwear of pulling the testes close to the body and lack of this effect with boxers is minimized by wearing pants. Therefore, unless one advocates wearing underwear alone or the abandonment of clothing altogether, advising infertility patients to wear a particular type of underwear appears to have little impact.” In other words, the great equalizer in the underwear wars: the wonderful garment called pants. The coolest (pun intended) part of this is that men would apparently achieve the best scrotal temperatures, and thus maximum fertility, by wearing skirts. Somehow, I doubt that’s going to happen.

Another study had 21 men wear polyester jockstraps, some with aluminum linings, for a year to see if it would affect sperm counts. It didn’t, though how they got 21 guys to wear uncomfortable aluminum underwear for a year is beyond me (And how did they make it through airport security? That would be an interesting pat-down from the TSA. “I swear, officer, I’m part of an experiment on metal underwear! Why don’t you believe me?”) Of course, a lot of women participate in uncomfortable underwear experiments every day. If you count underwire bras, we might even have the aluminum part covered.

From Chapter 7: Why trying to get pregnant is so anxiety-provoking

I spent my late 20s in a basement in Cleveland, rejecting people. I’d taken a job as a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, working in the lab of an eminent social psychologist. We developed a research program to study what happens when people are socially rejected by others. I’d get a group of college students together, have them talk for 15 minutes, separate them, and ask them to choose who they wanted to pair up with for the next activity. Then I’d tell half of them that no one chose them. The other, luckier, half would hear that everyone chose them. Over the course of a dozen experiments, we found that the rejected students procrastinated more, ate more cookies, made more risky choices, thought time was passing slowly, were more aggressive, and were less willing to help other people. In other words, getting rejected by a few people they met for only 15 minutes really messed them up.

We are hard-wired to need other people, and hard-wired to want to create relationships. If rejection from a group of strangers hurts, it makes a lot of sense that fertility – which creates a bond with a child, one of the most important relationships in life – provokes deep-seated feelings of anxiety. Throw in the strong biological drive to reproduce, the comforting thought that your children are likely to outlive you, and the sense of purpose people get from parenting, and you have a perfect storm of human desires: Companionship, reproduction, fear of death, meaning in life. Trying to get pregnant pushes so many of our psychological buttons at once. If you are going crazy, there are some very good reasons for that, and it’s not just you.

But that doesn’t mean it feels good – in fact, it feels awful. The Impatient Woman’s Guide shares 14 proven strategies to keep the crazy at bay.

Want to know more? Read the Q&A with the author.

Above excerpts from The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. Copyright 2012 by Jean M. Twenge. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Copyright 2012 Dr. Jean Twenge
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