The internet is full of tips about getting pregnant. You can find articles about teas to drink, foods to eat, exercises to do, and even what sexual positions to use. But do any of these things make a difference? What really works to help you get pregnant? If it's not happening as quickly as you'd like, consider some ways to boost your fertility and improve your chance of getting pregnant.
How to Get Pregnant
If you and your partner are young and healthy and neither of you have any infertility problems, you should not expect to have difficulty making a baby. How long it takes you to conceive is largely a matter of chance.
You might take the average time of about six months to conceive, it might happen in the first cycle, or it could take a bit longer. Of a 100 healthy, fertile couples:
- Fifty will conceive within three months of trying
- Seventy-five will be pregnant by six months
- Ninety will conceive by one year
The best ways to boost your fertility is to make sure you and your partner maintain good health, avoid the factors that can reduce your ability to conceive, and understand ovulation, sperm, and timing intercourse on the most fertile days of your cycle.
The best tips on staying healthy include the following:
- Eat a healthy diet that consists of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein sources so your body gets all the nutrients it needs to maintain normal reproductive function.
- Maintain a normal weight: Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia interfere with your weight, disturb your thyroid and other hormones, and disrupt your menstrual cycles and ovulation.
- Stay in shape, but don't over-exercise. Extreme exercise, like long-distance running, can interfere with your brain hormones that control your menstrual cycle and ovulation. Maintaining a normal amount of body fat is also important to maintain ovulation. You can use a BMI calculator to estimate your body fat.
- Decrease stress: Find ways to relax and eliminate sources of stress such as poor sleep habits. Stress can disrupt your menstrual cycles and ovulation. Studies from Harvard investigators and others show stress can make it more difficult to get pregnant. In one study, women undergoing fertility treatments were more likely to conceive after relaxation training.
In addition, before you conceive, start taking prenatal vitamins, especially folic acid supplements, to decrease your baby's risk of neural tube birth defects.
Check With Your Doctor
It's also not a bad idea to schedule a full preconception check-up. Spend some time preparing yourself for pregnancy to ensure you are ready for a baby. Review any medical problems or medicines you are taking that might impair your fertility. You can also make sure your medications are safe to take when you get pregnant.
Consider seeing a gynecologist for an evaluation and a gynecological exam, as well, if you haven't seen one in a while. If your menstrual cycles are irregular, it will take you longer to get pregnant, and a gynecologist can initiate a fertility workup and treatment if needed.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
You and your partner should avoid unhealthy habits that can impair your fertility and slow down your chance of getting pregnant, such as:
- Smoking: Get help to quit smoking tobacco, which can reduce fertility in both men and women.
- Alcohol: Heavy alcohol use might cause ovulation disorders. In fact, some studies suggest that any alcohol use at all might make you less likely to conceive.
- Drugs: Smoking marijuana or misuse of other illicit drugs can impair ovulation and sperm production.
- Caffeine intake: Some studies show excessive use of caffeine might decrease fertility rates among some coffee drinkers. If you can survive without your daily caffeine dose, it's worth a try to boost your ability and get pregnant faster.
- Avoid multiple partners: Avoid unprotected intercourse with other partners to decrease your risk of sexually transmitted infections that can damage your tubes and prevent you from getting pregnant.
Talk with your doctors if you need help to manage these problems.
Don't Stop the Sperm
Help keep sperm healthy.
- Avoid vaginal lubricants: Some types of lubrication used during sex, such as petroleum jelly and glycerin, change the acid balance in the vagina. This can kill sperm or stop them from swimming up your reproductive tract.
- Don't douche: Douching, either after sex or any other time, can also disturb the acid balance of your vagina and interfere with sperm survival and motility
Choose the Right Days
There are certain days in your cycle you are more likely to get pregnant.
- Identify your most fertile days: One of the most important tips on boosting your chance to conceive each cycle is to know when you are most fertile:
- You only ovulate once a month, and your fertile days include five days before and the day of ovulation.
- You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex during those days, especially on the day you ovulate.
- An ovulation calculator can help you identify your ovulation day.
- Learn the signs of ovulation, check your signs of fertility, and keep track with a menstrual cycle chart or an ovulation chart.
- Timing of intercourse: Once you know when you ovulate and your most fertile days, you can make sure you don't miss having intercourse during those days. However, don't hold off on having sex during the rest of your cycle just waiting for your fertile days. "Saved up" sperm might have lower motility and difficulty getting to the egg in your fallopian tube, which will decrease your chance of conceiving.
Make sure you don't turn having sex into a chore. Trying to make a baby should be fun and joyful.
Consider Alternative Options
Some people look to alternative or complementary options to try to get pregnant, including:
- Acupuncture: One of the most popular advice on getting pregnant is to try traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture. Does it work? There's just not enough evidence to say for sure. A few small studies indicate some benefit to fertility problems but other studies give conflicting results.
- Fertility supplements: Some people might try "fertility herbs" and extra vitamins but, in general, there's not a lot of scientific information that this can boost fertility. Some believe chasteberry supplements can help but there is no evidence for this, according the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Talk with your doctor before starting a fertility supplement because herbs might have a negative effect on male and female fertility.
Tips for Men to Improve Chance of Conception
Male fertility can be affected by many factors. Therefore, men can also benefit from tips to improve your chances of having a baby:
- Your man should follow the same healthy eating habits that you do.
- He should take a multivitamin if his diet is not complete. Certain vitamin deficiencies can impair sperm production and function.
- If your partner takes antibiotics, this can decrease sperm production and sperm motility. He should talk to his doctor and get a semen analysis if you are having trouble getting pregnant.
- Smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs can all reduce a man's fertility so your man should seek to stop these habits if you can't get pregnant.
- Men need to keep their testicles cooler than their body temperature so sperm production and motility stay normal. That's why testicles dangle outside a man's body in the scrotal sac.
- Your partner should avoid hot baths, saunas, tight underwear and jeans that keep the scrotum too warm. Even prolonged sitting at a desk or driving can make the testes too warm. Although many people recommend boxers instead of briefs, the medical evidence is sparse.
If It's Been a Year of Trying
If you've been trying for a year and still aren't pregnant, it's time to see your doctor to find out if you have a fertility problem. Get a check up if you have been trying for six months if you are older than 35. A complete evaluation of you and your partner, a diagnosis, and specific fertility treatment can improve your chance of getting pregnant.
Don't panic though! Sometimes you might just need a little more time. Some healthy couples will get pregnant without treatment up to two years of trying. There can still be a baby in your future.