Getting Pregnant

When you make the significant decision to start a family, UW Health obstetricians/gynecologists in Madison, Wisconsin can help you achieve your dreams. There are many steps both you and your spouse can take to prepare your bodies and optimize your chances of conceiving.


Two things are often considered during this process: what should be done before getting pregnant, and how long should it take to get pregnant. Patients should remember that the exact pre-pregnancy preparation and evaluation for each individual or couple will vary based on age, medical history, lifestyle and other factors.


Can You Become Pregnant?


Couples having intercourse without reliable contraception should expect to get pregnant, if there are no known problems or complications for either partner. However, the length of time between when you decide to start trying and when you actually become pregnant will vary between individuals.


In order for a woman to become pregnent, her menstrual cycle must be "regular" and she must ovulate. While each woman's cycle is different, "regular" is generally defined by an average of 25 to 31 days per cycle.


To determine the number of days, begin counting from the start of one period to the start of the next.


If your menstrual cycle is irregular, you should be seen by your obstetrician/gynecologist for an evaluation and physical to determine if there is an underlying cause.



To determine if you are ovulating, review the following questions. If you answer mostly yes, then it is very likely that you are ovulating, and you should have frequent intercourse and expect to become pregnant. If your answers are "mostly no" or "not every month," then you should be evaluated for ovulation problems. Keep track, on paper, of the following information. It will help determine what tests may, or may not be needed.

  • Are your periods regular? Are there the same number of days in every cycle? 
  • Are there 25 to 31 days per cycle, counting from the start of one period to the start of the next? 
  • Is the amount of bleeding "predictable" every month? 
  • Do you have 3-6 days of bleeding? 
  • Do you get some "physical warning," like breast tenderness, that your period is about to start? 
  • Do you get some menstrual cramps with the bleeding? 
  • Does your vaginal discharge "change" midway through the cycle, from "wet" to "mucousy."
To prove whether you are ovulating, your doctor can measure your mid luteal progesterone level. For women with 28 day cycles, the test is done on day 21 of your cycle.
Progesterone is only made by the body after ovulation. A high progesterone confirms ovulation. A low progesterone means either no ovulation or a mis-timed test.
Timing to Optimize Your Chances of Conception
Keep a calendar of every day you have bleeding AND every day you have intercourse. To optimize your chances of conception, intercourse should be timed as follows. Remember, day one is the first day of your period.
  • Have intercourse every day, or every other day, days 10-16 of your cycle
  • Do not have intercourse more than once per day
  • Keep a calendar of every day you have bleeding AND every day you have intercourse
If you do not become pregnant within six months, and there are no known complications, you should speak with your obstetrician/gynecologist to discuss a fertility evaluation.