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What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting

In the movies, it's an exciting time when a female character finds out she's pregnant: She pees on a stick, the two blue lines show up, and she jumps up and down with her husband and family.

But life is hardly like the movies. (Don't get me started on how unrealistic romantic comedies are!) Very few women get pregnant on their first or second try, especially as they get older.

But how do you know when to just "keep trying"—which becomes a lot less fun than it sounds—or what to do next? Here are a few tips.

RELATED: 7 Things to Consider Before Sharing You're Trying to Conceive

Now that you're actively trying to get pregnant, it's not as easy as you think.

Know Thyself: You'd be surprised how many women don't really know the basics of their body, like how long their menstrual cycle is, when they ovulate — if they ovulate at all. Now's the time to start paying attention to your period, find out if it's regular and discover your fertile window, when you're most likely to conceive.

Timed Sex: Although these two words might be the least-sexiest combination in the English language, there's something to be said for slipping on that negligee when it can really count. Want to make it more sexy? Don't tell your partner about the sex schedule. Just jump him that week—he won't complain!

Ovulation Kits, Calendars, Thermometers: Now that you finally understand your body and ovulation schedule, and know you're doing the "Baby Dance" (what women call procreative sex) when you're supposed to, it might be time to invest in some lightweight "equipment," like pregnancy tests and ovulation strips that measure hormones in your urine to tell you when you're ovulating. (But unlike pregnancy tests, many women find them very confusing, because they signal when you're about to ovulate.) There are also apps online to help you monitor it all—including your basal body temperature (BBT), which can also be a predictor of when you might ovulate. (The charting of BBT is complex and can be confusing.)

Timed sex, ovulation testing and temperature charting can really take the pleasure out of procreation.

Get Your Life in Order: Are you eating healthy, sleeping well and exercising (but not too much)? While plenty of unhealthy women get pregnant, factors like obesity, poor diet and poor sleep can effect your cycle, making it harder to conceive. Besides, what better way to prepare for baby than to take care of yourself?

See Your Gyno: If you're under 35, experts recommend a year of trying before seeing a fertility specialist. But I say it's never too soon to go to the gynecologist. (Worst case, they'll tell you to keep trying.) Your doctor can check out your uterus, making sure you don't have fibroids, and can also test your hormone levels to make sure you're good for your age group. Your partner's sperm can also be tested.

Just Relax? If the doc says everything looks good, it might be time to take that beach vacation you've been putting off. Now, there's nothing more annoying than someone telling you to "just relax and you'll get pregnant," but if there are no serious medical impediments, a few days on the sand in the sun just might be what the doctor ordered.

RELATED: Quiz: What's Your Fertility IQ?

Take it to the Next Level: Timed sex, ovulation testing and temperature charting can really take the pleasure out of procreation. Sometimes it's easier to just go to the next level, where a fertility specialist will do all the planning for you with an IUI (intra-uterine insemination). Like the old turkey baster, they put the sperm in the right place at just the right time. And then you can go back to having sex just for fun again!

Keep Trying: The important thing to remember through all of this is that you are trying to create a family. That means there's a baby waiting at the end of this tunnel, no matter how you get there. So keep your sense of humor, your career and outside interests going, and a strong healthy relationship with your partner, so when your babies arrive, you'll be ready!

Image via Twenty20/paolo_cristali

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