Growing up, sex education classes lead us to believe that we will get pregnant the first time we have unprotected sex. While this certainly can happen, oftentimes it can take a few months, or even years, to conceive. If you are ready to start trying to conceive or even just considering it in the near future, here are some things to consider to maximize your chances of getting pregnant as soon as possible.
1. Watch What You Eat
When it comes to TTC (trying to conceive), what you put into your body matters. Not only is it important to eat healthy while pregnant, but it is equally important to do so when you are preparing your body for pregnancy. Not only does a healthy, well-balanced diet of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and protein create a healthier environment for a baby to grow in, but it can help regulate your cycles and even improve the quality of your cervical mucus (which is a big player in aiding sperm in reaching your eggs).
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Going hand-in-hand with eating healthy foods is maintaining a healthy body weight. “Healthy weight” means something different for each individual. For some it means losing a few pounds and for others it means gaining weight. The best thing you can do is make sure that your BMI (body mass index) is within the “healthy” range. If it isn’t, take the necessary steps to ensure you get there through proper diet and exercise. Why does weight matter? Being overweight can lead to increased levels of estrogen while being underweight can cause lower estrogen levels. Abnormal hormone levels can cause irregular menstrual cycles or seemingly regular cycles where no ovulation is actually taking place.
3. Time Sex Just Right
One of the most crucial components of getting pregnant is making sure that you have sex around ovulation. Ovulation is when your ovaries release an egg and it travels down your fallopian tube to either be fertilized by sperm or released when you start your period. In order to increase your chances of getting pregnant quickly, you will want to make sure you are having sex on the days just before, during, and/or after ovulation. An egg only lives for 12-24 hours after it is released, so you have a fairly short window to conceive each month.
To quickly and easily determine when you are ovulating, consider purchasing some ovulation predictor strips. We are big fans of these easy-to-use and affordable ovulation test strips from Wondfo.
4. Chart Your Cycles
Besides using ovulation predictor tests to determine when to time sex just right, you can also chart your menstrual cycles. Charting will alert you to the best time each month to try to get pregnant and let you know if anything is “off” with your cycles so that you can better consult with your doctor and get your fertility on track.
Charting consists of taking your basal body temperature (BBT) each morning first thing before you get out of bed and tracking it in a calendar. Along with BBT, you can also keep track of the consistency of your cervical mucous. After you ovulate, you will see a slight spike in your BBT that will stay elevated until you start your period. Your cervical mucous will also change consistency as you approach ovulation and afterwards. As you track BBT and cervical mucous over the course of a few months, you should see a pattern in when you are most fertile during your cycles. Or, if you have the absence of a temperature spike, you may not be ovulating at all and can more easily seek help from a healthcare professional.
To get started in charting your cycles, invest in a good BBT thermometer like this affordable Digital Basal Thermometer from Fairhaven Health. Or, for a little bit more money, invest in the iBasal Digital Thermometer that actually interprets the data to tell you when you are most fertile (and has a nifty alarm to remind you to take your temps).
If you are interested in charting your cycles daily, we highly recommend the Kindara App (available for Apple devices).
5. Reconsider the use of Lubricants
If you and your partner regularly use personal lubricants in the bedroom, you may want to reconsider. Many name brand lubricants can actually hinder sperm motility and decrease your odds of conceiving. Obviously, the best lubricant is your body’s own natural cervical mucous, so your best bet is foreplay and working up to being really turned-on before intercourse. However, if you do need a little bit of help down there, try a lubricant brand made specifically to aid in conception.
Two popular fertility lubricants to consider using when TTC are Conceive Plus Fertility Lubricant and Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant.
Easier said than done, right? However, the fact is that stress and depression can easily hinder your chances of conceiving by messing up your hormone levels and possibly affecting your menstrual cycles. If you struggle with stress in your life, it’s time to find some ways to unwind and get yourself in the right mental state to conceive a baby. If what you are going through is serious, seek help from a counselor or group therapy. Otherwise, consider incorporating healthy relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation into your daily routine.
7. Stop Smoking
We all know that smoking is detrimental to our health, but did you know that it can actually damage your eggs and cause your ovaries to prematurely age? If you quit before trying to conceive, you can slowly regain health throughout your whole body, including your reproductive system, and increase your odds of conceiving a baby.
8. Reduce Caffeine & Alcohol Consumption
In terms of caffeine, you don’t have to kiss your morning cup of joe goodbye. However, there has been some research showing a link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage. To err on the side of caution, when TTC and pregnant you should try to limit caffeine intake to under 200 mg per day (there’s around 95 mg in one cup of black coffee).
When it comes to alcohol, we all know that once you’re pregnant you should just steer clear of it. While you don’t have to stop drinking while trying to conceive, alcohol can alter estrogen levels which could negatively impact your chances of a successful implantation (when the egg attaches to the uterus). If you want to provide the safest environment for your baby and avoid hurting your chances of conceiving, it’s best to avoid alcohol or at least limit it considerably.
9. Take Your Vitamins
It is highly recommended that all pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy, but it doesn’t hurt to start taking one earlier! Prenatal vitamins contain a myriad of essential nutrients, most importantly high amounts of folic acid, iron, and calcium – all crucial for the proper development of your baby. Folic acid in particular is essential in preventing neural tube defects in your baby which can occur within the first several weeks of pregnancy. Since you are already a few weeks along by the time you get that first positive pregnancy test, it is a good idea to at least be taking a folic acid supplement prior to conceiving.
10. Take a Look at your Partner’s Health
The same things that can affect your fertility can have an impact on your man’s sperm production and mobility. So, along with you he should be watching what he eats, limiting his intake of caffeine and alcohol, maintaining a healthy body weight, and he should stop smoking. Also, encourage him to pop a multi-vitamin each day when you take your prenatal!
We have one last bonus measure you can take before trying to conceive in order to improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy: take the Preconception Health Test from e.p.t.
This easy preconception test contains two vaginal swabs that will tell you if you have any vaginal infections that could lead to early miscarriage or preterm labor. If the test comes back positive, you will know to visit your doctor and get it cleared up before TTC.
We wish you the best of luck in your baby-making journey!
Photo Credit: Dreams To Do, Road Meditation by Nickolai Kashirin (CC BY 2.0)