Oh sure, your parents gave you "the talk" and you saw a video in school, but how does one actually get pregnant? Read on to get the very detailed facts on ovulation and conception.
If you’ve seen Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), it’s easy to imagine baby-making on the cellular level. The final scene of the movie depicts a squadron of long-tailed sperm waiting for their big moment dressed in white suits, hoods and gloves. While most of the guys wait patiently for things between their host and his lady friend to heat up, Allen works himself into a characteristic stupor, sperm-style: he’s scared, he’s worried, he’s due at his mother’s for dinner. Meanwhile, his comrades are full of the machismo you’d expect from a bunch of sperm. Their mission? “To fertilize an egg or die trying.” At last, the door of their futuristic pod slides open and the guys begin to eject in single file. Capturing the excitement of the moment, one white-hooded spermatozoa jumps off the brink and shouts, “We’re going to make a baby!”
Well, maybe. The truth is that no matter how ardently these fellas (or their real-life counterparts) want to make a baby, a successful pregnancy depends on many factors. Enthusiastic sperm and a viable egg, yes, but also a complex variety of hormones, a series of chain reactions, good timing and a little bit of luck. And no matter what you were told in high school, in reality, you don’t always get pregnant the moment you throw caution to the wind and hop into bed. According to Elaine Herer, an obstetrician/gynaecologist at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, “It depends on the woman’s age. The younger you are, the easier it may be to conceive. However, even with the perfect situation — the right timing, great sperm, open tubes, etc. — we are talking about a 20 percent chance, per month.” Still, our bodies are designed for procreation, and the stats bear this out. “At the end of six months of unprotected sex,” says Herer, “80 percent of women are pregnant. At the end of one year, 90 percent.”