Getting Pregnant: How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant -interview with Dr. Myra Wick


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(with Dr. Myra Wick, Ob/Gyn & Ph.D. at Mayo Clinic & mama of 4) For anyone thinking about getting pregnant…listen to this lesson.

Dr. Wick starts off the interview by sharing what she wishes she knew as a first time mom. As a mom of 4 & veteran Ob/Gyn who has helped 1,000′s of women get pregnant, her words are wise! 

Then she walks you through how to increase your likelihood of getting pregnant & how it actually works. She shares why being healthy increases your chances of getting pregnant & what you can easily do to be healthy. Dr. Wick teaches what experts think the optimal amount of sex is every week… it could surprise (or tire) you!

You’ll Also Learn

  1. If ovulation kits are worth the money.                                                                
  2. What you can do if you’re overweight, underweight or are an athlete, to increases chances for conception. 
  3. How long couples should try getting pregnant before consulting an expert.

Who is Dr. Myra Wick?

Dr. Wick is the mama of four children, she’s the co-editor of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, she has her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences & she’s Assistant Professor of Genetics and Obstetrics & Gynecology of Mayo Medical School. 


Listen to the Class  (this recorded softly- crank up your volume!) 



What do you think? Share below…




Dr. Myra Wick- How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

Sarah Blight:               Hi, this is Sarah Blight from your Baby Booty Interviews where we chat with real people who have real experiences so that you can have real takeaways on your journey as you become a mom. So whether you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve been trying for a while, we all have gone done the road of fertility and really trying to achieve our end goal.


                                    Today, we are really awesomely blessed to be joined by Dr. Myra Wick. She is an OB/GYN. She also has her PhD in biomedical sciences. She’s the co-author of the “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” and she’s also assistant professor of medical genetics and obstetrics and gynecology at Mayo Medical School. As well at her spare time, she’s a mom of four kids. So besides maybe talking about fertility, I think I want to ask Dr. Wick how you manage to do all of this. But thank you so much, Dr. Wick, for being with us today.


Dr. Myra Wick:           You’re welcome. A pleasure to be speaking with you today.


Sarah Blight:               So you’re a mom yourself having four kids, you’ve delivered hundreds, maybe even close to a thousand babies. What do you wish that first-time moms could know from all your experience that you’ve had both personally and professionally?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Boy, I think probably one of the most important things is just to try to cherish every part of your pregnancy and the time when your children are small. My oldest one is going to be 20 this week and I’m pretty feeling –


Sarah Blight:               Wow.


Dr. Myra Wick:           — nostalgic about that. [Laughs]


Sarah Blight:               Yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           How quickly the time goes and it can seem especially at the end of pregnancy when you’re feeling so big and your feet are swelling and you’re tired and you aren’t sleeping at night, it can just seem like this never ending time in your life. But it really goes by so quickly and your children are little for such a short period of time, it’s really important to cherish and love every minute of that. [Laughs] Because before you know it, it’s gone.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah. That’s a good word. I think everyone seems to say that it does go by faster and faster as the years go by so I can’t imagine what it would be like.


Dr. Myra Wick:           It does.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah. Well, for couples who have decided that they’re ready to have children and to go down the journey of having kids and becoming parents, what are the very first things that they should talk about or actions that they should take as they try to get pregnant?


Dr. Myra Wick:           I think probably the first thing is a healthy lifestyle. We want to make sure that a patient is having a healthy diet, trying to avoid lots of snack foods, I mean calories, sugary foods, the same kinds of things that you want to do when you’re pregnant as well. Weight is an important issue. It could be more difficult to become pregnant if you’re underweight or overweight. We’re seeing more and more women that are obese or even morbidly obese and if they do achieve pregnancy, there are lots of complications of pregnancy that are associated with obesity. So those are kind of some of the very basic things to think about initially.


                                    Then things like cigarettes, trying to avoid cigarettes and quitting before you become pregnant if possible. Obviously, alcohol, illicit drugs, all those kinds of things are very important to having a healthy pregnancy. Exercise is important and I always tell my patients most exercises that you’re doing before you’re pregnant are okay to continue while you’re pregnant with the exception of things that might result in a high impact. Forget horseback riding or rollerblading or playing hockey or, you know, things that typically [0:04:23] [Indiscernible]


Sarah Blight:               Downhill skiing or something like that.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           So those kinds of things. I think taking a multivitamin with folate before your pregnancy is also a good idea.


Sarah Blight:               Why are folates so important, Dr. Wick, especially before you try to get pregnant?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Well, folates to help prevent neural tube defects, which is an opening in the spinal column that can expose the neurologic elements, if you will, of the spine. We know that folate is one of the things that a person can do to help decrease the risk of having that occur. The neural tube is forming very early and oftentimes, if a woman doesn’t realize, you know, right away within the first couple of weeks that she’s pregnant, some of the very important organ systems have already started to form. So that’s why it’s important to be taking a multivitamin that has folate in it or a folate supplement even before you’re pregnant.



Sarah Blight:               Okay. That’s good to know. So the earlier the better on the folate.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup.


Sarah Blight:               For sure. Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yeah.


Sarah Blight:               Let’s run through the main ways to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant and why these things help. So the first one is obviously sex, which is pretty obvious.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               But a lot of people seem to maybe not understand, maybe how it all works with ovulation and stuff like that. Can you talk to us about sex as a way — obviously as the way to get pregnant in this case?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yeah. So sperm and egg really have a relatively short lifespan, if you will. The sperm probably don’t survive any longer than five days and the egg may not last any longer than 24 hours. So if you’re having intercourse once a week, that may not be enough if you’re really wanting to get pregnant. We’ll tell couples that they should be having intercourse at least three times a week maybe even — I know one of our reproductive endocrinologists at Mayo will even say every other day. If you’re having intercourse every other day, you’re probably not going to miss –


Sarah Blight:               Okay, yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           — miss that important opportunity.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. All right. That’s a good indicator. What about taking your temperature in the morning?


Dr. Myra Wick:           That’s another way to track when you’re ovulating. The body temperature increases slightly, often less than 1 degree, just at the time of ovulation. There have been some studies that actually show that if you’ve had intercourse before then that’s actually more effective. So keeping track of your body temperature over a couple of months will kind of give you an indication of when you’re going to ovulate and ideally you would probably have intercourse 24 hours before that. The body temperature is — like I said it’s a very subtle change in the body temperature. Ideally, you would have a thermometer sitting by the side of your bed and you take your temperature before you even get out of bed because once you get up and start moving around that’s maybe enough to elevate your temperature and make the readings inaccurate.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           It’s also important to take it–


Sarah Blight:               And I do want to point out — I’m sorry, Dr. Wick, I interrupted.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Go ahead.


Sarah Blight:               Oh, I was just going to say I wanted –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Go ahead.


Sarah Blight:               — to point out that a friend started, decided she wanted to start taking her temperature and charting and she went and bought a new thermometer and her husband said, oh, that’s not what I thought it would look like. He thought it was a vaginal thermometer that you’re supposed to use.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Oh, no. No.


Sarah Blight:               So I just want to point out in case –


Dr. Myra Wick:           No.


Sarah Blight:               — anyone might think when you say taking your temperature, you’re talking about under the tongue temperature, right?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup. Yup. Under the tongue.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           I think that’s probably more accurate than taking it in your ear or putting it under your armpit.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           But leaving it under your tongue, kind of the old fashioned, under your tongue for three minutes like your mom did when you were a little kid.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. All right. And –


Dr. Myra Wick:           I’m told rectally would be fine too.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           … wanted to do that.


Sarah Blight:               Not so much fun. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           No.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           …very often these days.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah. [Laughs] Talk to us about cervical fluid.


Dr. Myra Wick:           So there are changes in the cervical mucus that occur around the time of ovulation as well. Oftentimes, there’s a little bit slightly more discharge and it tends to be a little bit clearer and sometimes people describe it as being more slippery. Again, it can be difficult for some women to monitor that and those changes can be subtle.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum.


Dr. Myra Wick:           That can be inconvenient as well to have to –


Sarah Blight:               Right.


Dr. Myra Wick:           –watch that every month, every day of every month.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum. Okay. But maybe that in combination with the others are a comprehensive way to kind of gauge where you’re at with your –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Sure.


Sarah Blight:               — with ovulation.


Dr. Myra Wick:           As you alluded to, you can certainly be doing more than one thing at a time.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum. Okay. What about ovulation kits that you can buy now at the drug store? Are those effective? Are those a good way to gauge whether you’re ovulating?



Dr. Myra Wick:           Yes. Yeah, they are. Usually, they have more than one little kit tester, if you will, in the kit and so that can be very accurate and effective for some couples. It’s important that you really follow the directions as spelled out in the kits.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           It’s obviously more expensive than the other things that we’ve talked about.


Sarah Blight:               Right. Okay. What about your mindset? Does being positive help you think in the end to couples in their –


Dr. Myra Wick:           You know, that’s a good question. Certainly, you will hear things about people being under stress and that maybe not ovulating as frequently. I don’t know that we have any good data in the literature, but the other part of that component is if you’re having intercourse three or four times a week and it’s starting to seem more like a chore and you’re just not enjoying things, that’s not fun either.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum.


Dr. Myra Wick:           I don’t know if I answered your question but…


Sarah Blight:               Yeah, no. I think it probably isn’t going to hurt is what I hear you saying. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               It’s not going to hurt to have a good mindset–


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               — to have a positive mindset.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. Let’s talk about the other side of the coin. I know there’s a lot of people, a lot of my friends who have faced infertility and have not been able to conceive without some extra help. Obviously there are a lot of factors, but let’s talk about the main ones that play a role in a couple’s inability to conceive. Number one, we talked briefly about obesity at the beginning. Can you talk more about obesity and why that plays a role or why it could play a role?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. A lot of times with women who are obese, there can be sort of excess estrogen and they may not ovulate on a monthly basis so that often will factor into difficulty with fertility obviously.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           If you’re not ovulating, you can’t get pregnant.


Sarah Blight:               And does that also occur for women who are underweight as well?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. Oftentimes, in underweight women, the feedback loop between the brain and the ovaries isn’t working properly either and you think about women who are extremely thin if they’re anorexic or if they’re ballerina dancers, or ballet dancers, are always sort of the stereotypical. I don’t mean to pick on them but –


Sarah Blight:               Yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           — you know, you hear about them being extremely thin and then that feedback loop, the hypothalamic feedback loop between the brain and the pituitary gland and the ovaries isn’t working properly and so they also were not ovulating.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. Yeah, I’ve heard of especially athletes too maybe they’re not underweight, but they’re really muscular does that — like endurance athletes for example who maybe don’t have –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. They just have –


Sarah Blight:               –regular periods.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup. They have such a low body fat and it’s really the same principle.


Sarah Blight:               Oh, okay. Wow. I don’t understand all the scientific terms that you’re using, but it sounds like your brain isn’t communicating is that what you’re saying with the rest of your body to–


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. So the hypothalamus in the brain talks to the pituitary gland using hormones and then the pituitary gland in turn produces FSH and LH that talk to the ovaries to –


Sarah Blight:               Oh, okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           — produce estrogen and the eggs. In women that are both overweight and underweight, those feedback loops oftentimes aren’t working properly if you will.


Sarah Blight:               Oh, okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           So ovulation can either not be occurring or maybe very irregular.


Sarah Blight:               Oh, okay. Interesting. So obviously, for underweight women, the goal is to gain weight, for obese women it’s to lose weight. What about for the endurance athletes who are basically healthy people they just don’t have a lot of fat? Is there anything they can do?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Well, sometimes just backing off a little bit on the exercise routine sometimes that’s enough to kind of get things restabilized. Obviously, we don’t want to encourage people to put on fat. [Laughs]


Sarah Blight:               Right. Right, right.


Dr. Myra Wick:           But sometimes just backing off a little bit on the amount of exercise they’re doing will be enough to correct things.



Sarah Blight:               Okay. Let’s talk about age for a minute and the role –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yes.


Sarah Blight:               — that that plays. I’ve heard a lot more lately just about how difficult it is as you get older. Tell us more about that and why age is a factor or it can be a factor.


Dr. Myra Wick:           So the eggs that we have, we’re born with, we don’t make new ones and as we age, the eggs are aging as well and it just becomes more and more difficult as we get older. We think typically 35 is assigned as advanced maternal age if you want. I don’t like that term, but that’s kind of been picked as what we define as advanced maternal age and we certainly know that fertility begins to fall off a little bit more quickly after 35 and certainly much more quickly after 40.


Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           It makes it very difficult to become or let’s say more difficult to become spontaneously pregnant after the age of 40. It does happen.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           But it’s more difficult. Then as you’re nearing perimenopause, again all those little hormone cycles that we talked about or the feedback loops aren’t as efficient and so you’ll have an increasing number of menstrual cycle where you may not ovulate as you get older.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. So I’m totally gobsmacked –


Dr. Myra Wick:           And oftentimes, we’ll tell women –


Sarah Blight:               — right now… Oh, go ahead, I’m sorry.


Dr. Myra Wick:           I’m just going to say oftentimes we’ll tell women, you know, if you’re 35 or older, it’s probably a good idea not to wait a long time before you can consult fertility experts because the longer you wait the more difficult things are going to be. So in my practice if somebody is really having a lot of trouble and they’re 35, oftentimes that will be enough to trigger a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. That was going to be my next question, but I can’t get off the eggs real quick because I had no idea that the eggs we are born with are the eggs that we have and that we don’t create new eggs.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yes.


Sarah Blight:               I never knew that. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup. And men on the other hand are continuously making new sperm so.


Sarah Blight:               Of course they are. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           Uh-huh. And the other important concept about that is our risk for having a baby with a chromosome problem like Down’s syndrome, which is an extra copy of chromosome 21, also relates to the aging of the egg we think. So when we make an egg, the chromosomes, which hold our genetic material, has to divide from each other. We think that as we age that dividing process probably doesn’t occur as efficiently and so we know that that probably increases a woman’s risk for having a baby with an extra chromosome like Down’s syndrome again, an extra copy of chromosome 21.


Sarah Blight:               Wow, that is really fascinating.


Dr. Myra Wick:           And that maybe another reason why an older woman may get pregnant and then may have a miscarriage because she has a baby that has a chromosome problem. So that can all factor into staying pregnant as well. You know, she’s going to get to pregnancy but then have a miscarriage.


Sarah Blight:               Is there a link, are you seeing a link between older women who are pregnant and miscarriage rates being higher? Or is that too big of a generalization?


Dr. Myra Wick:           You know, there probably is an increase — there is a link I’m sure. I don’t know the exact data so I’d have to look that up for you.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. That’s okay. Okay. We kind of alluded to this before, I was just gobsmacked by the egg phenomenon going into our bodies right now. How long do people typically try getting pregnant before they consult a fertility expert? You had mentioned definitely don’t delay if you’re at the age 35 or above–


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               –and you’re having problems. But what about for people who are under 35?


Dr. Myra Wick:           Before that, typically we’ll give women about a year. A couple isn’t pregnant within a year that it’s considered a definition of infertility. Certainly, if I have a 32 or 33-year-old that has been trying for nine or ten months and they’re starting to get anxious, at that point, we can try something like Clomid, things that might not necessarily need a reproductive endocrinologist specialty expertise. So there are some things that a general OB/GYN might be trying at that point as well.



Sarah Blight:               Okay.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Specifically the Clomid.


Sarah Blight:               Okay. So that’s something that most OB/GYNs can prescribe without involving –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yeah.


Sarah Blight:               — you know, an endocrinologist, reproductive endocrinologist.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               Perfect. Well is there anything else, Dr. Wick, that in your experience as a mom that you want to encourage women who are getting ready to head down that path themselves besides cherish every moment? [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           I think again emphasizing a healthy lifestyle beforehand, exercise, reasonable diet, and kind of all those things that we talked about, the folate supplementation. Those are the most important things.


Sarah Blight:               And one quick question.


Dr. Myra Wick:           And enjoying process.


Sarah Blight:               Yes. Right. Which I do want to say something about that. I’m actually 14 weeks pregnant myself and definitely feeling that not quite out of the queasy nauseous phase.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yeah.


Sarah Blight:               Honestly, to be honest the thought of vegetables and eating healthy right now it makes me queasy. So what about all the women out there who are –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               — like yeah, right, let’s eat healthy when you’re feeling really nauseous. Is there –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right.


Sarah Blight:               — you know, some grace there for women who are dealing with just I can barely eat anything and I’m trying to –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yeah.


Sarah Blight:               I’m trying to be healthy, but I can’t really manage it right now?


Dr. Myra Wick:           I think — and certainly I’ve been in that situation myself — you eat what you can.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           So if that means that you’re eating toast and rice and noodles for a few weeks fine.


Sarah Blight:               Right.


Dr. Myra Wick:           The baby is not going to suffer for that short period of time and then as soon you’re able to expand your diet and maybe eat a few more things then you go ahead and do that if you can. The same with the prenatal vitamins, sometimes women have a really hard time choking those down when they’re so nauseated and they’re big old horse pills.


Sarah Blight:               Yeah.


Dr. Myra Wick:           I’ll tell my patients it’s okay to take a chewable vitamin and there are all kinds of — you know, gummie vitamins and all kinds of different products out there that you could potentially try and something might work for you.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum. Sounds like flexibility –


Dr. Myra Wick:           But most of us –


Sarah Blight:               — is key.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. And most of us in the United States are healthy enough nutritionally that if there are a few weeks where your nutrition is suboptimal, it’s not going to have a harmful effect overall in the baby.


Sarah Blight:               Uh-hum. Okay. I think that’s a really good point. I think it’s easy — of course well all want to be healthy, some of us have healthier diets I think than others, but when we’re trying to get pregnant and are pregnant, you have that extra incentive, you know, that extra bonus –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup.


Sarah Blight:               — of I want to do this for my baby and of course as you know that’s the lifelong thing of being a mom, you always want to do stuff for your babies.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup.


Sarah Blight:               But –


Dr. Myra Wick:           Yup.


Sarah Blight:               — it’s good to know that there is some grace there and, you know, for a few weeks just trying to keep everything down is okay too so.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Right. Right. And, you know, I can remember just only wanting to eat toast and things that were so bland and –


Sarah Blight:               Yeah, right.


Dr. Myra Wick:           Like you said the vegetables and the fruits and the things that are good for you, you don’t even want to look at them.


Sarah Blight:               Right. [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           [Laughs]


Sarah Blight:               Right. It’s weird how that works, isn’t it? [Laughs]


Dr. Myra Wick:           Uh-hum. Yes.


Sarah Blight:               Well, I want to thank you, Dr. Wick, for joining us today. I know you’re a very busy woman and you have a lot on your plate so I really appreciate you spending time with us and sharing your wisdom and insight of all that you know and have learned about being a mom.


                                    To all the mamas who are listening to this interview, if you guys have any thoughts or comments to share on fertility and getting pregnant, what worked for you, your experiences, please share them below this interview. We’d love to hear from you. We look forward to seeing you guys soon. Thanks for tuning in today.

  • Foxy

    Thank you for the attention to infertility, but PLEASE recognize that for many couples infertility is caused by male-factor issue. The first, least expensive, least invasive test that any medical professional should prescribe for a couple who suspects infertility should be a SEMEN ANALYSIS. Too many women waste too much time, money, and emotional capital on ‘their’ inability to get pregnant when an SA could quickly and easily identify half of all causes of infertility. In fact, I strongly urge all couples who plan to conceive to get a SA and a basic blood hormone panel – so much heartache could be eliminated if we started acknowledging that infertility is a common and oftentimes treatable disease.

    • yourbabybooty

      Excellent point Foxy, thank you for pointing that out. Excellent.