Maybe you’re really eager to get pregnant, or maybe you’re hoping to have a baby at a certain time of year. Here are five ways to boost your chances of conceiving quickly as well as some guidelines on when to be concerned about a possible fertility problem.
Tips For Quick Conception
1. Do get a preconception checkup
Before you officially start trying, get a checkup. Ask your doctor about prenatal vitamins that have folic acid , which helps protect against some birth defects, such as spina bifida . Folic acid works during the early stages of pregnancy, so that’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough folic acid even before you get pregnant.
“Do this the cycle before you start trying,” says Paula Hillard, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University. “If you have any underlying medical problems, they need to be under control before you can safely become pregnant.”
2. See your healthcare provider
You’re more likely to have a successful pregnancy when your body is up to the task. Lay the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy by scheduling a preconception checkup with a doctor or midwife to find out whether you’re in your best baby-making shape – and to learn what changes could help.
You may not be able to resolve any health issues immediately, but taking these steps as soon as possible prepares you for a healthy pregnancy.
3. Plan for a healthy pregnancy
Begin taking folic acid at least one month before you start trying to conceive. This nutrient can dramatically reduce the risk of certain birth defects.
Other good advice that may help you conceive a healthy baby: Kick any unhealthy habits (like drinking, smoking, or using drugs), get yourself to a healthy weight, and limit your caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams a day (about 16 ounces of coffee).
4. Do get to know your cycle
Ovulation prediction kits can also help you predict the best time to get pregnant, says James Goldfarb, director of the infertility service at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. Not only can they help assure you that you are ovulating, “if you are having infrequent intercourse, this tells you when to have it to increase your chances of getting pregnant,” he says.
Here’s how it works: The first day of your menstrual period is considered day one. “Start testing on day nine and keep going until you get a positive,” advises Joanne Piscitelli, MD, an associate professor of gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Women with a 28-day cycle tend to ovulate on day 14. But many women have longer or shorter cycles, so casting a wide net can help you be sure.
5. Figure out your fertile days
No matter how often you and your partner get horizontal, if you skip the key days out of the month when your egg is raring to go, you won’t get pregnant. “The biggest mistake my patients make is not knowing exactly when they ovulate,” says Dr. Williams.
Today, most doctors recommend using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) for a more accurate measure of ovulation. Though you can still use basal body temperature (BBT) charting, OPKs give you advance warning that your egg is about to be released, so you can plan accordingly. OPKs work by detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine, which occurs about 36 to 48 hours before you ovulate.
There are two basic types of OPKs available: Those you use only around the week before you ovulate (these are better for women with very regular cycles, since you need a rough idea of when you ovulate to know when to start using the kit) and those you use every day of the month (a better choice for women with less regular cycles; they’re also a bit pricier).
For the most approximate way to determine when you ovulate, subtract 14 from the length of your cycle.
6. Don’t worry about the best positions for getting pregnant
Myths abound about the best positions for getting pregnant, but they are just that — myths. There is really no scientific evidence saying that the missionary position is better than the woman being on top when it comes to maximizing your chances of making a baby.
Certain gravity-defying positions, such as sitting or standing during intercourse, however, may discourage sperm from traveling upstream. “It’s a matter of gravity [and] you don’t want all the semen to run out — and semen are quick little critters,” Hillard says.
7. Give sperm a boost
Strong, healthy sperm have the best chance of fertilizing an egg. Your partner can do several things to try to improve his fertility:
- Skip tobacco and recreational drugs.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than three a day.
- Get to a healthy weight if significantly overweight.
- Get enough of certain key nutrients – like zinc, folic acid, and vitamin C – that help produce strong and plentiful sperm.
- Don’t use hot tubs and saunas or take hot baths because heat kills sperm. (Testicles function best at 94 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit, a couple degrees cooler than normal body temperature.)
The sooner your partner makes these changes, the better: Sperm take a while to mature, so any improvements now will yield better sperm specimens in about three months.
8. Do lay low right after intercourse
You have probably heard this one – lie in bed with your feet in the air after having sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant. The verdict? Not (totally) true.
“It’s good advice to lay in bed for 10 to 15 minutes after intercourse, but you don’t need your feet in the air,” Goldfarb says. “Your pelvis does not move when you put your legs in the air.” Don’t go the bathroom during this time either, he says. “If you wait 10 to 15 minutes, the sperm that is going to get into the cervix will be in the cervix.”
9. Don’t overdo it
Having sex every day even during ovulation will not necessarily increase your chances of getting pregnant. “In general, every other night around the time of ovulation helps increase your chance of getting pregnant,” Goldfarb says. Sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse. The best suggestion is to have sex regularly — when you’re ovulating, and when you’re not.
Speaking of sperm, “wearing tight-fitting clothing can negatively affect sperm count,” Piscitelli says. So too can spending time in hot tub or Jacuzzi. Your man’s cell phone habits may also also need some work. A study in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that men who used a hands-free device with a cell phone and kept their phone close to their testicles had poorer sperm quality.
He might want to pass on the edamame and other soy foods for a while, too. Men who eat a lot of soy foods may have a lower sperm concentration than men who don’t eat soy foods, according to a study published online in Human Reproduction.
10. Do de-stress any way you can
Try not to get stressed out about starting a family. You may roll your eyes if someone says, “Just relax and it will happen,” but stress can actually interfere with ovulation. So the more relaxed you are, the better!
Whatever helps you de-stress is fine, as long as it’s healthy. “There is some evidence that acupuncture can help reduce stress and increase your chances of becoming pregnant,” Goldfarb says. And although drinking too much alcohol when trying to get pregnant isn’t smart, a glass of wine won’t hurt.
11. Do live a healthy life
Exercising is a healthy habit – especially if it helps keep you at your ideal weight. Just like anything else, though, you can get too much of a good thing. “Too much exercise can cause you not to ovulate,” Goldfarb says.
What’s too much? It may be different for different women. If you are a hard-core exerciser and are still getting your period regularly, your exercise regimen is most likely not a problem, he says. But, Goldfarb adds, your menstrual period is not the first thing to go if you are exercising too heavily. “The first thing that happens is that you have a shorter second half of your cycle.
You should have a period 14 days after you ovulate, but too much exercise can shorten this phase.” This would be the first hint that you need to curtail your fitness regimen. He suggests tracking how long it takes you to get a period after you ovulate as the best way to know for sure.