You’ve discussed it with your partner. You’ve gone off birth control. You’re already picking out baby names and daydreaming about the colors of the nursery. But what if you haven’t conceived despite your best efforts? What steps can you take to improve your chances? Here are eight ways to increase your fertility and shorten the odds.
1: Know Your Cycle
Having intercourse near ovulation is the most effective way of ensure pregnancy. You’re naturally at your most fertile, your body preparing itself for the luteal phase where you’ll either become pregnant or begin menstruation. Most women ovulate about 14 days after their last period, so break out the candles, put on Marvin Gaye and get ready to practice.
2: Watch Your Weight
You can become pregnant at any size, but the rate of possibility, the raw numbers, will fluctuate depending on your weight. In one recent study, women with an “overweight” BMI (25-39) took twice as long to conceive, while women who were “underweight” (19 and less) took four times as long. Managing your waistline could be the key to improving your chances of a baby.
3: Limit Your Vices
Alcohol and caffeine can both send your fertility into a tailspin. While moderate intakes don’t show any ill effects, you need to be careful not to overindulge. 500 milligrams a day is the limit for caffeine, the equivalent of three large cups of coffee, though some experts further recommend not straying above 200 or 250. As for drinks, stop yourself after two.
4: Stop Smoking Together
Neither one of you should smoke while attempting to conceive. On your end, you risk damaging the receptiveness of your uterus to your eggs; on his, he could be reducing his sperm count. And speaking of sperm…
5: Keep Him Cool
While there’s no conclusive link between heat and male infertility, scattered studies have shown some correlation, most notably between low sperm and high water temperatures. If nothing else, making him stay out of the jacuzzi won’t hurt your chances of conceiving, and it would be a worthwhile sacrifice if it did result in a baby.
6: Avoid Water-Based Lubricants
Your trusty KY could be reducing his sperm count by anywhere from 60 to 90 percent. Water-based lubricants, like those bought at the drugstore, have a proven record of negatively effecting motility, or a sperm’s movement and energy. If you find it difficult to have intercourse without a little help, switch to natural oils instead.
7: Practice, Practice, Practice
Some couples have the mistaken belief that “saving up” sperm will increase its potency or production. While it’s true that his sperm count will spike slightly after a dry spell, the motility will also decrease by the day, cancelling out any special benefit of waiting. For the best chances of becoming pregnant, you should be having intercourse as often as you’re comfortable doing so.
8: Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried everything without any luck, it may be time to put yourself in the hands of the experts. You should start with literature, like Making Babies by Dr. Sami David, to ensure you’ve covered all your bases and attempted all non-medical tips and tricks. If those still don’t work, make an appointment with a fertility specialist to undergo tests and discuss options.