Scroll through our photo gallery to learn crucial facts about your cycle and your reproductive health.
1. How do I know if my menstrual cycle is normal?
For most women, a normal menstrual cycle occurs every 21 to 35 days and lasts two to seven days, says Dr Ng.
Monthly variations in one’s cycle are also common, so don’t fret if your period doesn’t fall on the same day every month.
Dr Ng adds, “It is also assumed that women with regular menses ovulate monthly, but this is not always the case. If they’re looking to get pregnant, women need to test with a urine ovulation kit during their fertile period to determine if they are ovulating or not.”
He explains, “Some women can still ovulate even if they have irregular menses, but it would be much harder compared to women with regular menstrual cycles as the fertile window is more challenging to determine with irregular periods. Most women with irregular menses tend not to ovulate, too.”
3. I’ve been on birth control pills for several years ― can I still conceive?
“The oral contraceptive pill is short acting — it works for the day you consume it,” Dr. Ng explains. “If you stop taking it the next day, its contraceptive effects are gone. There is, therefore, no delay in conceiving once a woman comes off the pill.”
The misconception many women have is that the pill is associated with difficulties in conceiving when they come off the pill (especially if they’ve been on it for a long time). However, fertility issues are not due to being on the pill, he notes.
4. How can I tell if I am ovulating, and how much time do I have to conceive during this period?
“The best way to determine if one is ovulating is to use urine ovulation test kits during one’s fertile period, which for most women is between day 12 to 18 of their menstrual cycle,” recommends Dr Ng. “Women can try testing twice a day, in the morning and evening.”
Another alternative is to take a blood sample for progesterone levels approximately seven days before your expected menses (that is, day 21 of a 28 day cycle). This will show if ovulation has really occurred, although it cannot tell which day (this is determined by the urine ovulation test kit), says Dr Ng.
Once the ovulation test is positive, try to have intercourse on that day itself and preferably the next day. This is because an egg will only survive for a day after ovulation.
5. When’s the best time to have sex (to improve your conception chances) and when can I test for pregnancy?
As mentioned previously, you can use a urine ovulation test kit to determine if you are ovulating and have intercourse on the day itself, as well as the next.
“If women find it too stressful or inconvenient to test with a urine ovulation kit, the other method is to have intercourse on alternate days of their fertile period (such as day 12, 14 and 16, for example),” advises Dr. Ng.
As to when one should use a pregnancy test, Dr Ng recommends that you should test a week after you miss your menses.
6. How exactly does age affect one’s chances of conceiving?
Unfortunately, fertility does decline with age. In terms of numbers, Dr Ng notes that a woman’s natural fertility decreases by 1 per cent every year after age 35.
As for men, your age can also reduce the chances of conception because of decreasing sperm quality and other medical issues. However, the effect of age on fertility is much less for men as compared to women.
7. What should I do to boost my chances of conceiving?
Another condition is endometriosis, where tissue normally lining the inside of one’s uterus grows outside it, potentially blocking the fallopian tubes and affecting implantation.
“It is also generally accepted that healthy women have a better chance of conceiving, compared to women with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid, liver, kidney or heart disease,” Dr Ng adds.
Sort all these medical conditions out with a relevant medical specialist before trying to conceive. This won’t just ensure a better conceiving outcome, it will also prevent these health issues from having a detrimental effect on the pregnancy.