If you have been trying to conceive for a couple of months or even over a year, you may be wondering if you are missing any information that might help you get pregnant. There is a lot of information out there on what to do to increase your chances, such as sex positions, foods to eat, and how often to have sex. Some of them are old wives tales and others are backed by clinical data. We know it can get confusing so here are the top scientifically proven ways that have been clinically found to affect fertility:
Maintain a Healthy Weight:
Body weight can have a major impact on your ability to conceive. If body fat percentage is too low, estrogen levels may be too low; and if you are overweight, estrogen levels may be too high. Both can affect your ovulation cycle. One way to estimate if you are in the healthy range is to calculate your BMI. Here is an online BMI calculator to calculate your BMI.
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
- Overweight = 25–29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
If you fall in the categories outside of the 18.5-24.9 BMI range you may be at risk for decreased fertility. It’s not easy to change your weight, so talk to your doctor about a safe and healthy diet plan. Even if you are in the normal weight range, you should be focusing on a healthy diet. This will not only help you to get pregnant, but will also have long term health benefits for your child. Weight is not only an issue for women trying to conceive, it’s also an issue for your partner. Men, both underweight and overweight, can have reduced sperm quality.
Have Sex Often but Don’t Burn Out
While trying to conceive, have unprotected sex once a day or every other day during your fertile window. Try not to get too obsessed with charts, certain positions and keep it fun and romantic. There is no need to skip out on sex or have sex every other day unless your partner has been diagnosed with low sperm count. Try having sex everyday 2-3 days before ovulation and on the other days, keep sex spontaneous and when in the mood. Read here about a personal story on keeping intimacy less stressful while trying to conceive.
Time Your Ovulation
The key to getting pregnant is timing. This is one of the most important steps you can take. Outside of your fertile window, there is nearly a 0% chance of getting pregnant. The two days before you ovulate are your most fertile days and you should have sex each day during this time.
If you are using apps alone to pinpoint your fertile window, you may miss your individual ovulation cycle. Many women do not ovulate half way through their cycle. To determine if you ovulate earlier or later in your cycle, you need to use your own biomarkers such as hormones (LH sticks), temperature (thermometers, sensors) and cervical fluid to predict your ovulation cycle.
Watch Out for the Wrong Kind of Lube
If you use lube, make sure it’s not the kind that decreases sperm mobility. Lubricants that have certain oils and glycerine are known to hinder the sperm. There are specific brands of lube made for trying to conceive couples that you can try in place of the other kinds.
Stress releases several hormones that may actually suppress ovulation and affect the hypothalamus which helps to control and regulate ovulation. Stress can also affect your partner as well and reduce his sperm quantity. Find what reduces stress best for you and your schedule such as meditating, taking daily walks and working less hours. One quick way to reduce stress hormones is deep breathing. Try this: Count 7-10 seconds as you inhale and 5 seconds as you exhale three times. You will get your parasympathetic nervous system going and slow down your heart rate.
Lifestyle Habits (caffeine, alcohol & smoking)
If you are a coffee drinker, don’t stress, you can still have coffee. Just don’t over do it and stick to having no more than one - two cups a day. What about alcohol? Studies show that moderate drinking may be alright while trying to conceive, but that having two or more glasses a day can significantly reduce your fertility. It's recommended to avoid alcohol during the time of your cycle that you may be pregnant since it's not clear exactly how much alcohol it takes to harm the fetus.
Smoking, on the other hand, has a major impact on fertility. Men that smoke may have reduced sperm count and damaged DNA. Women that smoke reduce how receptive their uterus is to the egg. Not to mention that women who smoke also have increased probability of having a miscarriage.