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.
1. 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.
2. 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).
How can I get pregnant quickly?
Three things you can do to maximize your chances of getting pregnant quickly.
3. Figure out when you ovulate
The key to getting pregnant quickly is figuring out when you’ll ovulate, or release an egg from your ovary.
You ovulate only once each menstrual cycle. If you can tell when you’ll ovulate, you and your partner can time intercourse for the best chance of getting pregnant that cycle.
You can use a few different methods to determine when you ovulate.
(If you have irregular periods, pinpointing ovulation could be difficult.
4. Have sex at the right time
Once you know your time frame for ovulation, plan to have sex during your most fertile window, which is two to three days before ovulation through the day you ovulate.
If you’re not sure when your fertile period will be, aim to have sex every day or every other day during the second and third weeks of your cycle. That way you’re likely to have healthy sperm in your fallopian tubes whenever your body releases an egg.
Another tip: If you and your partner are waiting to have sex until your most fertile time, make sure you haven’t gone through too long of a dry spell beforehand. Your partner should ejaculate at least once in the days just before your most fertile period. Otherwise there could be a buildup of dead sperm in his semen.
(Note: Many vaginal lubricants, including store-bought products as well as homemade versions like olive oil, can slow down sperm.
5. 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.
How long to try before getting help
If you’re younger than 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant after trying for a year, it’s time to see a fertility specialist. If you’re 35 or older, talk to a specialist after you’ve tried for six months with no luck.
Of course, if you know there’s a reason you or your partner are more likely to have a fertility problem, it’s a good idea to see a specialist even before you start trying.
Find out how to estimate when you’re likely to ovulate by calculating your most fertile days, using an ovulation predictor kit,…
Find out when you’re likely to ovulate and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is when you release an egg from one of your ovaries. If that egg gets fertilized by a sperm and implants in your uterus, you’re pregnant!
You’re potentially fertile beginning five days before you ovulate through the day of ovulation, although you’re much more likely to get pregnant if you have sex during the final three days of this window.
There’s no foolproof method to predict when you’ll ovulate. But here are a few ways you can estimate when it’s most likely to happen, so you can try to time sex accordingly and boost your chances of getting pregnant.
Try the calendar method
If your cycle is regular – the same number of days each time – you can try the calendar method (also known as the Standard Days Method).
To estimate when you’ll ovulate, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period. Your fertile window includes the day you ovulate and the preceding five days. So, for example, if day 1 is the first day of your period and day 28 is the day before you expect your next period, you’d be fertile on days 10 through 15.
This method is the easiest way to estimate your fertile window, but it’s not very accurate, even if you have a good idea of when your next period will start. That’s because ovulation rarely happens exactly 14 days before menstruation.
In one large study, the day of ovulation varied from seven to 19 days before menstruation among women with 28-day cycles. Ovulation happened 14 days before a period only 10 percent of the time.
So you can see how it’s possible to miss your fertile window altogether using this method. On the other hand, it’s easy and free and worth a try, especially if you’re not in a hurry to conceive.
Use an ovulation predictor kit
Testing your hormone levels with an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) is another method. There are two kinds of kits: The most common type tests your urine, and the other tests your saliva. Both show a positive result in the days before you ovulate, giving you time to plan ahead for baby-making sex.
The pee-on-a-stick test indicates when your level of luteinizing hormone (LH) has gone up, which usually means one of your ovaries will soon release an egg. With the saliva test, you use a microscope to spot a pattern in your dried saliva that indicates the rise in estrogen which happens in the days before ovulation.
The kits are available at drugstores
Chart your ovulation symptoms
You can also track subtle changes in your basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus for a few cycles to try to determine when you ovulate.
If you pay attention to these clues and note them on a chart, you may see a pattern that can help you predict when you’re likely to ovulate next. (If your periods are irregular, you may not notice a pattern.)
Your BBT is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. You have to measure it every morning with a special thermometer and record it on the chart. On the day after you ovulate, you should see an uptick of 0.5 to 1.0 degree Fahrenheit in your BBT. This temperature increase typically lasts until your next period.
Cervical mucus is the vaginal discharge you sometimes find in your underwear. For most of the month, you may have very little of it, or it may be thick and sticky. But in the three to four days before, during, and immediately after ovulation, you’ll notice an increase in cervical mucus and a change in its texture. It’ll be clear, slippery, and stretchy, like raw egg whites.
Charting is free (after you buy the thermometer), but this method takes time and effort to do accurately.
Learn more about how keeping track of your BBT and cervical mucus can help you predict ovulation. Then follow the steps to charting your BBT and cervical mucus.
Take note of mild cramping
Some women report that they feel mild cramps or twinges of abdominal pain, or a one-sided backache around the time of ovulation. These sensations are known as mittelschmerz. Although it isn’t a precise way to determine when you’re ovulating, it may be helpful to be aware of these symptoms (if you have them) while using the calendar, BBT, or cervical mucus methods.
Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to improve your eating habits. Set the stage now with healthy diet changes to ensure your baby gets off to a strong start.
Pay attention to your diet
For both men and women, food and fertility are linked. Stick to a balanced diet to boost your chances of a healthy baby.
Eat several servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk every day. Not getting enough nutrients can affect your periods, making it difficult to predict when you ovulate. And you may not ovulate at all if you’re significantly underweight or obese.
Your partner should also pay attention to his diet since certain vitamins and nutrients – such as zinc and vitamins C and E, and folic acid – are important for making healthy sperm.
Fish is a nutritional powerhouse for a growing baby, offering low-fat protein with omega-3 fatty acids, but you need to take care to avoid types that are high in mercury, which can be dangerous to your unborn baby.
Because mercury can accumulate in your body and linger there for more than a year, avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Instead, eat lower-mercury fish such as salmon and canned light tuna (not albacore, which is higher in mercury) once or twice a week. Read more on eating fish while trying to conceive.
Processed meats can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women and should be consumed in small amounts, and smoked or raw meats should be avoided entirely during pregnancy. Even hot dogs or deli meats should be heated until they are steaming before you eat them if you are pregnant.
Practice good habits for pregnancy
For many moms-to-be, pregnancy prompts an abrupt change in eating and drinking habits – but some habits are hard to break. Make it easier on yourself by changing habits now, and help ensure your baby gets off to a good start from the moment you conceive.
Some solid advice: The occasional bottle of beer or glass of wine probably won’t affect your chances of getting pregnant, but alcohol can harm a developing baby. And since you may not know exactly when you ovulate or conceive, you may want to play it safe and cut out alcohol completely.
On a related note, if you use any recreational drugs or smoke, quit now. All of these substances and habits can harm a developing fetus.
You may also want to cut back on caffeine. The research on whether caffeine can affect fertility is mixed. Experts generally agree that low to moderate caffeine consumption, less than 300 mg a day or about the equivalent of two 8-ounce cups of coffee, won’t affect your fertility, but your healthcare provider may recommend that you cut caffeine out entirely to play it safe.
And once you’re pregnant, experts recommend limiting yourself to less than 200 milligrams a day of caffeine – that’s a little less than a 12-ounce cup of coffee – because higher amounts have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. If you have a strong coffee or soda habit, you might want to start weaning yourself off caffeine now.
Take prenatal vitamins
Although you can meet almost all of your nutritional needs through a balanced diet, many experts believe that even the healthiest eaters can use extra help. Taking a prenatal vitamin ensures that you’re getting enough folic acid and other essential nutrients to boost your chances of conceiving a healthy baby.
Remember that a supplement is a safeguard, not a substitute for a sound diet. And since regular over-the-counter multivitamins may contain megadoses of vitamins and minerals that could be harmful to a developing baby, choose a pill formulated specifically for pregnant women. If you have a vegetarian diet, you may also need vitamin D and B-12 supplements, along with extra protein. Talk with your healthcare provider about the right prenatal supplement for you.
Get enough folic acid
Folic acid has been proven to reduce a baby’s risk of neural-tube birth defects such as spina bifida, and it is linked to a lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and diabetes.
Most women of child-bearing age should take a supplement with 400 micrograms (mcg) daily for at least a month before pregnancy, and 600 micrograms during pregnancy. If you have a family history of neural-tube birth defects or take medication for seizures, your healthcare provider may suggest that you boost your daily intake to 4,000 mcg, or 4 mg, starting at least a month before you conceive and continuing throughout your first trimester.
A good over-the-counter prenatal vitamin should contain more than the minimum recommendation of folic acid, between 600 and 800 mcg – what you’ll need during pregnancy. In addition, you can eat folate-rich foods, such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals.
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so your body will flush out the excess if you consume too much. But there’s a downside to being water-soluble, too: You can lose a lot of this vitamin in cooking water, so steam or cook vegetables in a small amount of water to preserve the folate.
Be aware that getting too much folate may hide a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is sometimes a problem for vegetarians. Ask your doctor or midwife if you think you may be at risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
It might be a good idea to shed some pounds, or gain a few if you’re underweight, while you’re trying to get pregnant, since you want to be as close as possible to your recommended weight when you conceive. Being over- or underweight can make it harder to get pregnant. Also, obese women have more pregnancy and birth complications, and underweight women are more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby.
In addition to following a smart eating plan with low-fat, high-fiber foods, get regular exercise. If you’re overweight, aim to lose one to two pounds a week, a safe rate of weight loss. Extreme weight loss from crash dieting can deplete your body’s nutritional stores, which isn’t a good way to start a pregnancy.
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.