For some people, avoiding pregnancy is difficult. For others, conceiving can be imprecise and frustrating. It can take up to a year for a healthy couple to get pregnant, and for many others it can take even longer. Luckily, there are many things you can do to increase your fertility and your chances of getting pregnant.
Method 1 of 4: Try to Conceive
Step 1. Have sex before, during, or after your most fertile days
Once you know that you are fertile, have sex regularly. You are more likely to get pregnant if you have daily sex before, during, and after your most fertile period. However, if you can't have sex frequently, then do it every 2 to 3 days before, during, and after your most fertile time.
If you need to use a lubricant, make sure it's water-based and specifically made to promote conception
tipEstablish a relaxed atmosphere, do not demand too much of your partner and try to focus on this time as an opportunity for both of you to enjoy yourself before having to worry about the needs of a child.
Step 2. Continue taking your basal temperature
This will be helpful to ensure that you collect as much data from your cycle as possible, and can help you identify the most fertile days for the next cycle, if necessary. A missed period and high temperatures after your expected period date can also indicate that you are pregnant.
If your temperatures stay high for 14 consecutive days after ovulation, the chances are good that you have conceived
Step 3. Pay attention to implantation symptoms
Some women experience implantation bleeding, which usually appears as a light spot when the zygote attaches to the uterine wall. It usually happens 6 to 12 days after conception. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, but don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you have questions.
You may also experience mild cramps, headaches, nausea, mood swings, breast tenderness, and back pain along with implantation bleeding
Step 4. Take a home pregnancy test after you have a missed period
Once the ovulation period has passed, it is time to wait. Wait until the expected date of the next period; If it doesn't reach you, take a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests have a 97% accuracy range, but they can still give a false negative result if you test too early. Retest in 1 week if you test negative and still have pregnancy symptoms.
Keep in mind that most couples do not achieve pregnancy instantly. Out of 100 couples who try to conceive each month, only 15 to 20 couples succeed. However, 95% of couples trying to conceive reach pregnancy within 2 years
Method 2 of 4: Identify Your Most Fertile Days
Step 1. Track your menstrual cycle with an app or calendar
Knowing your menstrual cycle is the best way to identify the most fertile days. Download a fertility app, like OvaGraph or Fertility Friend, or use a calendar to chart your fertility information. You will have to write down the following information on the calendar:
- The first day of your period. This is the beginning of the cycle, so it should be noted as "1" on the calendar. List the remaining days in sequence, counting down to the last day of the cycle, which is the day before your next period.
- Your daily basal temperatures.
- Changes in cervical mucus.
- Positive ovulation prediction tests.
- Days in which you have had sexual intercourse.
- The last day of your cycle.
Step 2. Take your basal temperature
Your body temperature will rise a bit when you are ovulating, so a spike is a good sign that you are fertile. Have a thermometer next to your bed and take your temperature in the morning as soon as you get up. Take your temperature at the same time each day to get a very accurate picture of your fertility. Take note of your temperature each day. If you notice a certain rise in temperature (between 0.5 and 1 degrees Fahrenheit) that lasts for more than a day, you may be ovulating.
Fertility peaks during the 2-3 days "before" your basal temperature rises, so if you can observe month-to-month patterns as your temperature rises, you can predict the best time to conceive
tipMake sure you buy a basal thermometer. Don't use a regular thermometer, as it won't detect subtle changes in your temperature.
Step 3. Check the cervical mucus
When your vaginal discharge is clear and slimy, like raw egg whites, you are most likely fertile. Have intercourse daily for 3-5 days from the day you notice this consistency in flow. Once the discharge becomes dull and dry, you are less likely to conceive.
You can notice the consistency of cervical mucus simply by wiping it when you go to the bathroom, or you will need to insert a clean finger into your vagina to check it
Step 4. Use an ovulation prediction kit
Choose an ovulation prediction kit from the nearest store or buy it online. Urinate on the end of the strip or dip the end of the strip into a container with the urine and then wait a few minutes before seeing the results. In basic tests, the test is positive if there are 2 lines that are the same color or if the second line is darker than the control line. If you have a digital test, the screen will show whether you are ovulating or not.
- The cost of these tests can increase, so save them for the days you suspect you may be ovulating. Ovulation predictor test strips are generally cheaper if you buy them in bulk.
- Ovulation predictor kits are not necessary to identify your most fertile days, but they can be helpful, especially when you are unsure and want confirmation that you are ovulating.
Method 3 of 4: Preparing the Body for Pregnancy
Step 1. Get a prenatal checkup
Even if you haven't had any fertility problems, it's a good idea to get a basic preconception physical checkup. Some existing health problems can be seriously aggravated or worse by pregnancy. Your doctor will likely perform a pelvic exam and order some basic blood tests. Some of the disorders that you should take into account before pregnancy are the following:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can interfere with ovulation.
- Endometriosis, which can generally inhibit fertility.
- Diabetes: If you can detect and treat diabetes before you conceive, you can avoid birth defects normally associated with the disease.
- Thyroid disease: Like diabetes, thyroid disease is relatively not a threat to your pregnancy, as long as it is diagnosed and treated well.
Step 2. Reach your desired weight before pregnancy
Studies show that clinically obese women have a hard time conceiving and may also have more problems during pregnancy. However, being underweight can also negatively affect your ability to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about what would be a healthy weight for you, and try to lose or gain weight before trying to get pregnant.
Women who are clinically underweight (with a BMI less than 18.5) may stop menstruating completely, which can make conception even more difficult
Step 3. Take prenatal vitamins
Starting them before you get pregnant will increase the nutrients needed in your system for a developing embryo. For example, taking folic acid supplements before trying to conceive can reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube abnormalities. Choose a prenatal vitamin or ask your doctor to prescribe one.
Taking folic acid supplements has also been shown to have a positive impact on fertility, so start taking a folic acid supplement daily before planning to get pregnant
Step 4. Follow a whole foods diet to increase fertility
A healthy diet can help boost fertility and improve your chances of conception. Eat a diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some good options include the following:
- lean proteins: skinless chicken breast, ground beef, tofu, and beans.
- Whole grains: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal.
- fruits: apples, oranges, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and melon.
- vegetables: broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cabbage and kale.
Step 5. Encourage your partner to eat foods that promote sperm health
Men should take a multivitamin supplement that contains vitamin E and vitamin C; follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; and avoid excess consumption of alcohol, caffeine, fat and sugar.
Men should also make sure to get plenty of selenium (55 mcg per day), as selenium is thought to increase fertility particularly in men
Step 6. Stop smoking
Smoking while pregnant is not only a bad idea, but it can also hinder your chances of conceiving in the first place. Quitting an addiction while pregnant can be very stressful, so save yourself the pain and quit sooner.
Keep in mind that being a passive smoker can also affect your chances of conceiving. Avoid spending time between smokers to reduce your exposure to passive smoking
tip: it is important that your partner also stops smoking. Men who smoke frequently have fewer sperm and more abnormal sperm.
Step 7. Stop drinking alcohol to increase your chances of conceiving
Even having 1 drink per day can decrease your fertility. To ensure that you have the best possible chance of conceiving, do not drink alcohol at all. If you have a drink every now and then while trying to conceive, make sure you don't exceed 1 drink. Taking more than 2 drinks considerably decreases a woman's fertility.
Your partner should also limit his alcohol consumption, as this can decrease the quantity and also affect the quality of sperm
Step 8. Limit caffeine to no more than 200 mg per day
This includes caffeine from foods like chocolate and beverages like coffee, tea, and cola. Women who drink more than 3 cups of caffeinated beverage daily have a lower chance of achieving pregnancy compared to women who consume 2 cups or less.
- 1 cup of coffee (240 ml) has about 100 mg of caffeine, so drink no more than 2 cups (580 ml) a day.
- Tea and cola have less caffeine, but this can still be harmful if you drink a lot. Limit your intake to no more than 2 caffeinated drinks a day to make sure you don't go over your daily limit.
Step 9. Stop using birth control
Once your body is ready for conception, stop using birth control. If you are taking hormonal birth control, it may take 2-3 weeks until you begin to ovulate normally again and are able to become pregnant. However, if you are only using barrier birth control, then you should be able to get pregnant right away.
If you have an intrauterine device (IUD), you will need to see a gynecologist to have it removed before you can get pregnant again
Step 10. Visit a reproductive medicine professional or sex therapist if necessary
If having sex is a problem for you or your partner, it will be difficult to conceive. A qualified reproductive medicine professional or sex therapist can help you overcome these problems as a couple.
Try not to let infertility deteriorate your relationship. The pressure to conceive, as well as invasive and emotionally stressful fertility treatments, can lead to sexual dysfunction and make conceiving even more difficult
Method 4 of 4: Seek Help for Infertility
Step 1. Establish a timeline of when to seek help based on your age, how long you've been trying to conceive, and your health
Patience is difficult when you are trying to conceive, but try to give it time. Setting a deadline to see a doctor can help ease anxiety and prepare you for the next stage of the pregnancy process. These are the times when you should seek help:
- Healthy couples under the age of 30 who have regular sex (twice a week) should be able to conceive within 12 weeks (plus time to readjust after interrupted contraception).
- If you are over 30, see a doctor after trying for 6 months. Women over 30 and perimenopausal women may experience difficulty getting pregnant due to the natural decline in fertility that occurs as they age. In most cases, pregnancy can still be achieved, but it can take longer and requires more directed sex and lifestyle changes.
- Visit a fertility specialist right away in some special cases. If you have endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, previous cancer treatments, a history of miscarriages, or are over 35, see a reproductive specialist as soon as you want to conceive.
Step 2. Get Tested for Common Fertility Problems
Anything from illness and stress to excessive exercise and medications can decrease fertility. Certain medications can prevent or complicate conception. Provide your healthcare professional with a complete list of medications, herbs, supplements, and special drinks or foods you are consuming so that he or she can evaluate the list for potential fertility blocks.
- Get tested for sexually transmitted infections. Some infections can decrease your ability to conceive, while others can cause permanent infertility if left untreated.
- In some cases, women may have a removable tissue barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the egg, or they may have a physical condition that affects the menstrual cycle, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
Step 3. Consider getting an in-depth fertility test
If you and your partner have received a clear overview of your overall health, consider sperm testing and medical monitoring of your fertility.
- Men should have a semen analysis to check the quality and quantity of sperm that are emitted during ejaculation. Other male fertility tests include a blood test to check hormone levels, and ultrasounds that monitor the ejaculation process or blockage of the sperm duct.
- Fertility tests for women include hormonal tests to check the thyroid, pituitary, and other hormone levels during ovulation and at other times during the menstrual cycle. Hysterosalpingography, laparoscopy, and pelvic ultrasounds are more complicated procedures that can be done to evaluate the uterus, endometrial lining, and fallopian tubes for scarring, obstruction, or disease. Ovarian reserve and genetics tests may also be done to look for inherited fertility problems.
Step 4. Visit a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility clinic
Your OB / GYN can refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist or clinic to make sure you have access to all the tests and treatments you may need to achieve pregnancy. A reproductive endocrinologist can test, diagnose, and treat conditions that may impact your ability to get pregnant. Find a reproductive endocrinologist in your area for an appointment.
- Make a list of questions before your doctor visit. Go over the questions with your partner to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. Cover any questions you have about costs, side effects, and the success of treatments.
- On your first visit, don't expect to have a physical evaluation or start treatment. Just go ready to ask the questions so you know about the options you have.
- Don't feel obligated to commit to a particular treatment center after just one visit; go to several centers and keep the options open until you find the best clinic for you.
Step 5. Ask about intrauterine insemination (IUI)
This involves collecting a semen sample from your partner or a donor, "washing" the sperm to remove the seminal fluid, and then placing the sperm directly into your uterus with a thin catheter. This process is usually done 1 day after a woman's ovulation hormones rise and can be done in a doctor's office without pain or the need for surgery. IUI can be used up to 6 months before trying other therapies. The situations in which the UI can be useful are the following:
- unexplained infertility
- allergy to semen
- male factor infertility
Step 6. Consider using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant
IVF is considered the most effective and common method of achieving pregnancy through assisted reproductive technology.
- IVF involves removing mature eggs from your body (or from a donor) and fertilizing them with your partner's (or a donor) sperm in a laboratory, with a subsequent insertion of the fertilized egg into your uterus to boost the implantation.
- Each cycle can last 2 or more weeks, but most insurance companies pay few (if any) IVF cycles.
- IVF is less likely to be successful in women with endometriosis, who have not given birth before, and who use frozen embryos. Women over 40 are generally advised to use donor eggs, as there are success rates of less than 5%.
Step 7. Ask about medications and other fertility treatments
In some cases, fertility drugs may be sufficient to increase fertility hormones and allow natural conception. In other cases, fertility options such as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) or surrogate motherhood are recommended.
Clomid (clomiphene) is a common fertilizer drug that is typically combined with other treatments, such as IUI. This drug stimulates the ovaries to release an egg and thus increase the chances of achieving a pregnancy
Step 8. Seek support while you are in infertility treatment
Infertility can greatly affect your mental health. You may feel anxious, depressed, and isolated, but remember that you are not alone. Take care of yourself and seek support as you go through the process. Reach out to caring friends and family, and seek out support groups in person and online. You can also consider seeing a therapist to discuss your feelings while you undergo treatment.
Infertility can also affect your relationship. Take time to have fun with your partner and stay connected
New to infertility testing and treatment?
Talk to your doctor about what you can do to increase fertility naturally, promote a good amount of sperm in your partner, and use relaxation to aid your treatment.
- A man can wear briefs without decreasing the amount of sperm. However, hot baths, jacuzzi baths, tight-fitting sportswear, extended bike trips, and prolonged placement of a laptop in the pelvic area can reduce a man's sperm count.
- Obesity of the partners can decrease the chances of conception. After you reach a healthy weight, you can conceive more easily and have a healthy pregnancy.
- Trying too hard to get pregnant, especially if you follow a strict schedule, can cause stress and reduce physical and emotional intimacy between you and your partner.
- Parenting is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Make sure you and your partner are mentally ready to have a baby.
- Make sure both partners are free from illnesses and infections before you stop using barrier methods of birth control.