For many people, getting pregnant is the easiest thing in the world. They barely look at their partner with a twinkle in their eyes and, voila – mission accomplished. For others, pregnancy doesn’t come as easily. Health problems, stress, busy schedules, and a thousand other things can prevent pregnancy.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to get pregnant into one easy-to-read article. Below, you’ve got all the advice and tips you could want to know…
What Stops You From Getting Pregnant
No, we’re not going to get into the explanation of how to get pregnant. We’re pretty sure you’ve got the basic mechanics of it figured out. (If not, God help you!) Instead, we’re going to look at the things that could get in the way of an easy conception.
There are a number of factors that could prevent pregnancy:
- Uterine health problems – Endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian failure, uterine tumors and polyps, reproductive organ birth defects, poor cervical mucus quality, and other uterine health problems could all make it harder for you to get pregnant. Some may increase your risk of miscarriage, while others will promote a hostile environment for an embryo to grow.
- Fallopian tube disease – It’s estimated that up to 20% of infertility cases are caused by blocked fallopian tubes. Untreated STDs, surgeries, pelvic inflammatory disease, and tubal pregnancies can all damage the fallopian tubes, leading to scarring and blockage that could prevent pregnancy.
- STDs – Yes, STDs can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant. STDs can cause tubal scarring, which may block the fallopian tubes and make pregnancy not only difficult, but potentially dangerous.
- Male infertility – The pregnancy difficulties may be the result of low testosterone, poor sperm health, and other male fertility problems.
- General health problems –There are a surprising number of health problems that can decrease your chances of pregnancy:
- Obese people, those with a high BMI, tend to produce too much estrogen. Excessively high estrogen levels can lead to reduced fertility.
- Underweight people, those with a too-low BMI, may not produce enough of the sex hormones needed to get pregnant.
- Hormonal imbalances may affect menstruation and ovulation, potentially preventing pregnancies.
- Insufficient nutrition could deprive your body of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids required for a healthy conception and pregnancy.
- Autoimmune conditions like Lupus, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis can impact fertility negatively.
- Women with a history of miscarriages, painful menstruation, or over-strong PMS will also have a higher risk of pregnancy problems.
If you fall into any of the categories listed above, there’s a very real chance you will have a harder time getting pregnant. But notice that word “HARDER”—not impossible! With the help of a fertility specialist and your GP, you can deal with the health problems, restore healthy reproductive function, and increase your chances of pregnancy.
How to Maximize Fertility
Above, we learned what could STOP you from getting pregnant, so now it’s time to move onto the things that can HELP you get pregnant. There are a lot of ways you can increase your fertility:
Give your body time. If you’re just getting off birth control, you may need to be patient. Birth control pills alter your hormone levels, so it takes a few months for your body to return to “normal”. Some birth control methods (like injectable hormones) can take up to 9-12 months to stop affecting your pregnancy.
If it doesn’t happen right away, don’t stress. Give your body time to balance out. You should only start to be concerned if you don’t get pregnant after 1-2 years of trying.
Have sex more often. As if you needed to be told twice! The highest rates of pregnancy occur among couples who have sex at least once every 48 hours. Try to have sex every 24 hours, or no less than 5 times per week. Regular sex increases your chances of getting pregnant.
Avoid the “pregnancy inhibitors”. No, we’re not talking birth control pills. Instead, we’re talking about the substances that could negatively affect your fertility: caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
Nicotine and tobacco does more than just cause lung cancer—it can also raise your blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels, decrease circulation, and decrease fertility. Smokers have greater difficulties conceiving, so it’s in your best interest to quit smoking. (And that means vaping too! The nicotine in vapes may not be as harmful as cigarettes, but it will still affect your fertility.)
Alcohol, in moderation, can actually make you more likely to get into the mood for conception (wink, wink). However, excessive alcohol consumption can seriously impact fertility. Some experts actually recommend eliminating alcohol completely if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Caffeine hasn’t been definitively linked to reduced fertility, so don’t worry that you have to completely cut it out. Caffeine is a stimulant that MAY alter hormone levels if consumed in excess. According to some doctors, a healthy amount to drink is 200-300 mg of caffeine per day. That’s 1-2 regular-sized cups of coffee or tea.
Get plenty of exercise. Exercise can increase fertility in a number of ways:
- Regulating ovulation and menstruation
- Balancing hormones
- Building stamina
- Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs
- Detoxifying the body
- Preventing depression
- Reducing stress
It’s not just good for your waist line and BPMs, but exercise will benefit your reproductive organs as well.
Just don’t overdo it! More than five hours of strenuous, vigorous exercise per week has been linked to decreased ovulation. The last thing you want is for anything to throw off your delicate hormonal balance and ovulation cycle, so keep your exercise within healthy limits.
How much exercise should you do per week? Try to get no more than 4 hours of high intensity exercise, or 6 hours of moderate exercise. This way, you’ll get your weight/BMI under control and promote a healthy body without overdoing it.
Eat right. Just like eating the right foods can help you build muscle, strengthen your bones, or lose weight, a healthy diet can increase your fertility. In addition to cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, you should try to add more of the following nutrients to your diet:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (via fish, nuts, and chia seeds)
- Vitamin C (from citrus fruits, spinach, and pineapples)
- Vitamin E (from avocadoes, nuts, and coconut)
- Zinc (from shrimp, oyster, and shellfish)
- Folic acid (from dark, leafy greens)
- Low-fat proteins (from chicken, fish, eggs, and lean meat)
- Fiber (from fruits and veggies)
- Complex carbs (from barley, quinoa, and brown rice)
- Calcium (from yoghurt, cheese, and milk)
You should strive to eat as much raw and natural food as possible. Eliminate processed and artificial foods from your diet in order to maximize nutrition and promote weight/fat loss. A healthy BMI is critical to conception.
Relax. Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which in turn affects the levels of your reproductive hormones. The last thing you want is for anything to mess with that delicate balance of hormones, so try your best to curb your stress.
If you need to, get away from home and take a mini “conception vacation”. A few days away to focus on just the two of you can help to rekindle your romance, make the sex enjoyable, and increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Have sex around ovulation. This is a VERY important one! Ovulation is when the ovary releases the mature egg, which travels down the fallopian tubes. This is when you have the best chance of getting pregnant.
The “fertility window” is the five days leading up to ovulation and the first day of it. Have sex during this window to increase the likelihood of conception.
Now, it’s easy to say “Have sex around ovulation”, but harder to know when ovulation is. Don’t sweat it: read on to find out how to predict this time of the month…
For a woman with a regular menstrual cycle (28 days), ovulation usually occurs at the halfway mark: 14 days before the start of her next period. However, very few women actually have this regular schedule. Ovulation can occur anywhere from 10-18 days before the period. This can make it challenging to figure out when ovulation actually happens.
There are a few signs of ovulation you’ll want to look out for:
- Basal body temperature rises – The “at rest” temperature of your body rises during ovulation. You can use a special ovulation thermometer to track basal body temperature first thing in the morning. Use a calendar to track the daily temperature readings. Use that to figure out the pattern of ovulation. The 2-3 days before basal body temperature rises is within that “fertility window”.
- Vaginal secretion changes –This one is a bit more “hands-on”. Immediately prior to ovulation, the vaginal secretions become clear, wetter than usual, and stretchy. After ovulation, the secretions become less noticeable, cloudy, and thicker. ]
Both of these can help you to figure out when ovulation sets in. Use a fertility calendar to track the monthly cycle. After a few months, you should be able to figure out when the “fertility window” occurs—ergo, the best time to have sex to get pregnant.
Your pharmacy will also sell Over-the-Counter ovulation kits. These OTC kits measure the levels of hormones in urine to determine when the body is producing more hormones. Hormone production surges immediately before ovulation, so it’s a simple, effective way to know when ovulation is about to set in. This is when you’ve got to go all out with the efforts to get pregnant.
When to Visit Your Doctor
Some people put off visiting their OB/GYN until after they’ve spent months trying in vain to get pregnant.
Here’s a sneaky secret: get your doctor visit out of the way BEFORE you start trying. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you have any STDs or health problems that could reduce your chances of conception. They can offer advice on how to better try to get pregnant.
Basically, you want to get your doctor involved in the pregnancy process as early as possible. That way, they’ll know how to help maximize your chances of success.
Sex and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
We’re not going to get into all the ins and outs of having sex—we hope you know what you’re doing. However, there are a few things that can help to encourage conception:
The Right Position – Yes, there are certain positions that help the sperm to reach the egg more easily. Good ol’ Missionary is the #1 position for conception, but Doggy is another one that promotes deep penetration. Remember: the deeper the penetration, the shorter the distance the sperm has to travel to reach the egg.
Orgasm – An orgasm isn’t mandatory for conception, but it helps. Orgasms cause contractions in the uterus that move the sperm closer to the egg. While it’s not a “make or break” factor, it makes the effort both more effective and more enjoyable.
Post-Coital Activity – Immediately after sex, lie on your back for 10-30 minutes. Gravity can help the sperm travel to the egg, increasing the chances of conception. While this is closer to a wives’ tale than hard-and-fast science, it’s worth trying!
Getting pregnant can be A LOT of fun for both partners. You can enjoy exploring each other’s bodies for the purpose of bringing new life into the world. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away. Pregnancy can often take time, so let it happen. The advice above will maximize your chances of conception. The rest is up to your body and Mother Nature!