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Newborn and Infant Care

Conception question

03/15/1997

Question:

How soon after conceiving can you tell your pregnant? Will you feel any physical differences before you miss a period? How soon can a test detect pregnancy? Will you still have cramps and other PMS symptoms? How close to ovulation do you have to have intercourse to increase chances of pregnancy? How long do you try to get pregnant before you should get concerned?

Answer:

Pregnancy occurs when the ovum and sperm unite. Ovum (egg) usually live for 24 hours. The sperm can survive for up to 72 hours in the female reproductive tract, but are healthiest during the first 24 hours. Ovulation usually occurs 14 days prior to when the menstrual period would begin. After conception a hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced and is the basis of the pregnancy test. Urine and serum levels can be detected. Some serum test can detect levels of hCG as early as 7 days after conception (before the missed menses). Urine test are usually not done until after the date of the missed menses. It is important to follow the directions exactly when using a home pregnancy test. Failure to follow exactly will often give incorrect results. The physical signs of pregnancy usually do not appear until after the missed menses. Physical symptoms alone do not positively diagnosis a pregnancy. The physical symptoms ( nausea, vomiting, urinary frequency, breast tenderness, fatigue, and enlargement of the abdomen) may be caused by conditions other than pregnancy. As hormone levels increase throughout pregnancy many women do experience some mood changes. Cramping may indicate preterm labor, and should be reported to the health care provider at once. At term cramping , Braxton Hicks contractions are an important preparation of the body for labor. If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to seek out your health care provider prior to conception. This will allow you to be in the best health at the time of conception. If you have unprotected intercourse for one year, and do not conceive you need to seek out your health care provider.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati