What Is TTC? Exploring the Meaning of Trying to Conceive
So you’ve decided that you want to plan a pregnancy. How exciting!
A few Google searches later… and you might be finding yourself completely overwhelmed with all the fertility terminology floating around on message boards and social media. Reading acronyms like TTC, TTA, or FTM for the very first time is enough to make anyone’s head spin with confusion – and it may even feel like you’re learning a new language.
To help, we’d like to clear some things up for you on one of our favorite acronyms, TTC (trying to conceive). We’ll cover everything you need to know about what it means, how it relates to your fertility, and tips to consider for your pregnancy journey.
What does TTC mean?
“TTC” is an acronym for the phrase “trying to conceive”, and it is one of the dozens of other fertility abbreviations found on social media and in online forums.
Individuals and couples who describe themselves as TTC are actively seeking to become pregnant, and they often utilize a variety of tools and techniques to optimize their chances of conception. Some of the most common techniques include tracking ovulation, planning intercourse around fertile days, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and in some cases utilizing assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Where did the term come from?
While there is no clear answer on who exactly came up with the term “TTC” or how it came to be, there is evidence that it has been appearing in Google searches as early as 2005. In general, the origins of all fertility abbreviations are unknown. However, it is generally accepted that people began using them as shorthand in early online forums – and they’ve been around ever since!
What does TTC mean for your pregnancy journey?
When trying to conceive (TTC), there are two elements to consider. The first element relates to fertility in general (i.e. the body’s natural ability to conceive) and the second element relates to the physical process of getting pregnant.
In order to maximize your chances of successful conception, it’s important that both elements are in balance.
TTC and fertility
A number of different factors can influence fertility while TTC. While many of these factors are within your control, others are not.
One example of this is age, and it’s important to be aware that fertility begins to slowly decline at age 30 before rapidly declining after age 35. Other factors outside of your control that may impact fertility include medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
Factors that are within your control that positively influence fertility revolve around your lifestyle.
This includes things like weight, diet, stress, and the use of potentially harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and caffeine.
To learn more about how your lifestyle influences your chances of getting pregnant, check out our article Lifestyle Factors that can Impact Your Fertility.
TTC and pregnancy
When it comes to actually getting pregnant, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a bit more to it than just simply having unprotected sex.
This is because there are technically only about six days during each cycle where it is physically possible for the body to conceive. This period of time is known as the fertile window, and it encompasses the five days before ovulation plus the day of ovulation. Couples TTC can conceive more efficiently by tracking this fertile window and planning sex accordingly.
There are several different strategies for estimating ovulation and the fertile window, with each strategy having its own pros and cons. While many methods can feel complicated or overwhelming at first, they do get easier with some practice.
To learn more about the fertile window and how to track it, check out our article When (and What) Is a Fertile Window? [TTC + TTA Planning].
Tips to help when TTC
Tracking ovulation is key to getting pregnant as efficiently as possible. Why? Because it enables you to identify your fertile window, plan sex at the right time, and increase your chances of conceiving.
There are many different methods you can use to help track ovulation and the most fertile days of your cycle. The most common include:
- Using the calendar method (also known as the rhythm method)
- Tracking cervical mucus and cervical positioning
- Tracking basal body temperature
Another way to predict ovulation is by monitoring your hormone levels directly. This can be done with an at-home hormone tracking system like Mira, which can track your unique hormone levels throughout your cycle and let you know which days you are fertile and non-fertile.
Have intercourse every other day
Once you’ve estimated your fertile window, it’s important to have regular intercourse with your partner during this time.
Exactly how regular is up to each couple, however, doctors often recommend having sex at least every other day. This is backed up by research that shows there is only a small difference in pregnancy rates for couples who have intercourse every other day during their fertile window versus couples who have sex every day. This fact may come as a relief to couples who feel like the prospect of having daily sex is overwhelming and unattainable.
Use prenatal vitamins
It is also recommended to start taking prenatal vitamins at least one month before TTC. Prenatal vitamins often include key nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, iron, and vitamin D, which are essential for promoting cell growth and preventing birth defects.
At a bare minimum, the CDC recommends taking at least 400mcg (micrograms) of folic acid on a daily basis while TTC. This is because folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects in fetal growth, which occurs during the initial 28 days after conception.
Maintain a healthy body weight
It is well documented that individuals who are overweight or underweight can experience higher rates of infertility. This is because the number of fat cells in the body can influence reproductive system functioning, such as irregular periods, absent periods, and cycles that are either too long or too short.
To keep your weight at a healthy level for conception, consider the following tips:
- Make sure to eat three well-balanced meals each day with healthy snacking in between.
- Incorporate foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats to help you stay fuller for longer.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats.
- Try to incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
- Avoid overtraining and allow your body to rest and recover after exercise.
Consider seeking help
If you have been TTC for a while without any luck, know that you are not alone. The Office on Women’s Health estimates that around 10% of women in the United States struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant.
As a rule of thumb, you should consider seeking additional help from your doctor or a fertility specialist if you:
- Are under the age of 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex without using birth control.
- Are over the age of 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant after 6 months of unprotected sex without using birth control.
For further information on finding a fertility specialist, check out our article 7 Steps to Help Choose the Right Fertility Provider for You.