There is a lot of education in school about how to NOT get pregnant. But there are no school courses teaching you how to get pregnant. Here is all you need to know:
It takes a sperm and an egg might seem obvious but it was a mystery until 1784. That’s when a Catholic priest, biologist, and physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani put two and two together. Before that, nobody truly knew where babies came from.
There’s a 25% chance this month: With every menstrual cycle, a woman has a 25% chance of becoming pregnant if she’s having unprotected sex, ovulates regularly and if the man has enough sperm. It may take a few months to actually get there but, meanwhile, enjoy practicing.
14 may not be your magic number: You may have heard that ovulation and the best chance for pregnancy occur on day 14, after the first day of your last period. However, your own menstrual cycle length will vary wildly over the course of your life so don’t get stuck on the number 14. Plus, your fertile days end on the day of ovulation, and the very best days for having sex are the 4-5 days before and the day of ovulation.
Sex before ovulation makes pregnancy more likely: Once an egg leaves the ovary, it must be fertilized within 12 to 24 hours or it’s too late. Since it’s almost impossible to know the exact time of ovulation, fertilization might be more likely if there’s plenty of little swimmers already there, waiting for the magic moment. Sperm lives several days in the female body so stock up in advance.
The healthier you both are, the healthier the pregnancy: The more that is learned about making babies, the more it becomes obvious that having mom and dad in optimum health helps conception occur faster. Get in good shape before trying to conceive by starting a diet rich in folic acid and folate (leafy greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) to ensure that the baby’s brain and nervous system get off to the best start just days after conception. Drink lots of water and eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and vitamins.
Schedule Preconception Exam
Preconception health is vital, especially if there are issues that can best be resolved before pregnancy. Schedule a visit for you and your partner to tackle any existing issues and optimize your health before getting pregnant.
You must start a preconception vitamin plus folic acid at least 1-2 month before conception.
Take Folic Acid
A daily dose of 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended to decrease the risk of fetal neural tube defects (NTD) and other malformations. Ideally, it should be taken at least 1-2 months prior to conception in order to work well.
Recent studies have shown that additional beneficial effects of folate on fertility were observed were observed at levels well above those that are currently recommended for the prevention of NTDs. Infertile women taking increased amounts of folic acid were more likely to get pregnant when compared to those not taking supplemental folic acid. To improve fertility and also decrease miscarriages the dose should be 600-800 mcg folate instead of 400 mcg.
- Folic acid is a B vitamin. When taken before and early in pregnancy, it helps prevent birth defects of nervous tissue, the brain, and spinal cord. Some studies show it can also prevent miscarriage, stroke, autism, and certain cancers.
- Folic acid is available as a supplement, in multivitamins and food. Every fertile woman should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before pregnancy and during early pregnancy, and 4000 micrograms if you have already had a pregnancy affected by a birth defect of the brain or spinal cord or if you had a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
- You might also consider a comprehensive fertility supplement such as FertilAid for Women that contains the daily recommended amount of folic acid in addition to vitamins, minerals and other ingredients shown to enhance a woman's fertility.
Strive For An Optimal Weight
Both extremes of weight affect your fertility, and maintaining an optimal weight improves your chances. The best way to find out if you are at a healthy weight is to calculate your body mass index, BMI.
The Big O: Ovulation
Your fertile days are the 4-5 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation. Finding out when you ovulate is the key. Here are some ways to do it:
- Chart your basal body temperature (BBT)
- Chart your fertility signs like symptoms and cervical mucus
- Use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs)
The Big S: Sperm Count
It takes two to get pregnant. A man's sperm has to be healthy and there are ways to improve sperm count including FertilAid for Men. Male fertility problems affect 50% of couples who can't get pregnant. Men need to make sure they have enough good quality sperm by doing a sperm count. They should also embark on a healthy diet, strive for an optimal weight, avoid smoking and drinking, and take a daily vitamin and herbal fertility supplement, like FertilAid for Men, to boost sperm count.
It's All About Sex
Many couples don’t seem to realize that how you have sex is crucial when it comes to getting pregnant. That means you should have intercourse regularly throughout the menstrual cycle. Try to have sex once a day every day during your fertile 5-6 days, preferably using a missionary position. Avoid positions where the woman is on top because gravity will allow sperm to leak out. Also, try placing a pillow under your hips to help tilt your pelvis and keep the sperm in longer. Don't get up right after sex. Instead, try to relax and allow the sperm to stay in the vagina as long as possible.
The egg can only be fertilized during the 12-24 hours after ovulation but sperm can live in the lower portion of a woman's reproductive tract up to five days. Having sex before ovulation is helpful but having sex after ovulation is unlikely to get you pregnant.
Exercising is healthy and gets your body ready for the strains of pregnancy and labor and delivery. Proper exercise can help throughout your pregnancy by reducing your pregnancy symptoms and increasing your energy. However, it is important to avoid certain types of exercise and to be aware of dangers that could occur with excessive exercising.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Many doctors now believe diet can improve your fertility, especially if you have certain ovulation issues. Eating a healthy diet can also reduce birth defects. The right diet can make a difference because the majority of women experiencing ovulatory dysfunction also suffer from undiagnosed or subclinical PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a condition related to insulin resistance that also affects ovulation.
Eat more monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) and less trans fats (like the kind found in many baked goods or fast foods). Increase intake of vegetable protein (like soy), while reducing animal protein (like red meat). Eat more high fiber, low-glycemic foods — like whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits, while reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars. Consume moderate amounts of high-fat dairy products — like ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.
No Drugs, Cigarettes, or Alcohol
Smoking, drinking, and taking drugs increases miscarriages and pregnancy complications like premature deliveries. Review all medications you take, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, with your doctor. Most medications are safe, but there are some which can affect your pregnancy. Do not stop any medications that you need unless you discuss it with your doctor first.
Get Health Insurance
Check your health insurance coverage, review your options for maternity/paternity leave, and make a pregnancy and baby budget
It’s rarely healthy to live with a lot of stress and some studies have reported that reducing stress may improve fertility. What can you do to reduce stress?
- Get regular massages
- Have more sex
- Take long weekends off
- Listen to music
- Do yoga
- Read and write journals
- Pamper yourself
- Spend more time with your family and friend
- Hold hands with your partner
If you have tried without getting pregnant for some time, check out Why Can't We Get Pregnant?
If you are not trying to get pregnant, you'll want to read, Can I Get Pregnant If...?
Factors Affecting Fertility
Ovulation: With irregular or no ovulation (anovulation), you cannot get pregnant. In addition, you need to have good quality eggs.
Age: The older you get, the lower are your chances of getting pregnant. Old and bad quality eggs make getting pregnant more difficult. The older the woman is, the longer it takes to get pregnant.
Sperm count: The less sperm he has, the longer it may take to get pregnant. With an abnormal count (that is, below 20 million/cc) your chances of getting pregnant are quite low.
Patency of your fallopian tubes: They must be open and working well for you to get pregnant.
Timing of sex: You must have sex regularly, 2-3 times every week, and especially during your 4-5 fertile days before ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation.
Approximately 40% of couples who are starting out TTC will conceive during the first three months of trying, and about 70% of couples TTC will conceive during the first six months. Up to 85% of couples will conceive within the first year of TTC. Your ability to conceive in any given cycle falls after age 30.
Don't Make Sex a Chore
Keep enjoying sex. Sometimes when couples are trying to conceive, sex becomes a job and is not as fun or romantic. Plan a romantic evening or try something different to spice things up. How you are feeling sexually may factor into your chances of getting pregnant. Some researchers believe that having an orgasm during sex increases your chances of getting pregnant. For women, the spasmodic movements of orgasm will help pull the sperm into the uterus and for men, a better orgasm may increase the man's sperm count.
Every Day Versus Every Other Day
Previously, couples trying to conceive (TTC) were told to have sex once every other day during their fertile days. However, recent studies have shown that for the average couple trying to conceive, making love 2-3 times a week, every week, is the best. You may improve your chances further by having sex once a day (as long as his sperm is OK) during the fertile 4-5 days prior to and including ovulation day. In those instances where the man does not have enough sperm (oligospermia), the recommendation of once every other day still holds true.
Sex During Fertile Days
- Sex every day: 37% Pregnancy
- Sex every other day: 33% Pregnancy
- Sex once a week: 15% Pregnancy
Source: "Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation -- Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby" was published in The New England Journal of Medicine (December 7, 1995 -- Vol. 333, No. 23). Allen J. Wilcox, Clarice R. Weinberg, Donna D. Bair
When to See a Doctor
If you have not been able to get pregnant, couples should see their doctor after 1 year of trying, or 6 months if the woman is 35 years or older.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has defined infertility as..." the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse". They suggest that …. “couples in whom the female partner is under the age of 35, and who have not conceived after one year of unprotected intercourse, should seek the help of a physician that specializes in the treatment of infertility”.
But ASRM also lists conditions where couples should see an infertility specialist even earlier:
1. Couples, in whom the female partner is over the age 35, should seek help after six months of being unable to conceive.
2. Couples who have known causes of infertility should seek help from a specialist even sooner.
- Get Pregnant: Have a Boy or Girl Quiz
- The Gender Prediction Quiz: Boy Or Girl?
- The Boy/Girl Interactive Fertility Calendar
- The Boy/Girl Chinese Sex Calendar
Have a Baby Boy or Girl
- Diet May Influence Baby's Gender
- Gender Selection of Baby by Timing and Diet
- Does coffee make a difference to have a boy or girl?
- Does cough syrup improve your chances for a boy or girl?
- What is the best position for a boy or girl?
- What is the right time to have a boy or girl?
- Does orgasm make a difference?
- Ericsson Method
- Preimplantation Genetic Haplotyping (PGH)
Improve Your Fertility Now!
- Make His Sperm Healthier First
- How Can I Improve MyChances Of Getting Pregnant?
- The 3 Periconception Steps To A Healthy Pregnancy
- 7 Relaxation Tips When Trying to Conceive (TTC)
- FertilAid FAQs To Help You Improve Your Fertility Health
- Order FertilAid
Pregnancy Testing, hCG & Pregnancy Diagnosis
- When Does The Pregnancy Test Usually Become Positive?
- hCG 101
- What Are Normal hCG Levels In Pregnancy?
- What Is hCG And What Do I Need To Know About it?
- Is It Possible To Have A False-Positive Pregnancy Test?
- When Is The Earliest A Pregnancy Can Be Seen On Ultrasound?
- Can You Diagnose On The BBT When The Fertilized Egg Implants
- Why Are Some HPTs Positive Earlier Than Others?
- What Could The Reasons Be For Cramps And Cramping?
What Are My Chances of Getting Pregnant?
- How long does it take to get pregnant?
- What are my chances of having a baby?
- What are my odds getting pregnant each month?
- How does the amount of making love affect my chances of getting pregnant?
- When does the fertilized egg implant?
- When does implantation bleeding happen?
- Does implantation bleeding always happen?
- Implantation signs and symptoms
Pregnancy Signs & Symptoms
- What is the earliest I can feel pregnancy signs and what are typical early pregnancy signs?
- What are my chances of being pregnant with these symptoms?
- I ovulated last week and now I feel nauseous and tired. Could these be the first signs of pregnancy?
- How can I tell from the cervical mucus (CM) if I am pregnant?
- What is the function of progesterone?
- I missed my period but my pregnancy test is negative. What could be going on?
- Could I be pregnant even though I have a regular period?
- I have long menstrual cycles, sometimes they last 40 days or more. What's going on?
Can I Do This and Is it Safe?
- Can I sleep on my back during pregnancy?
- Can I eat fish?
- Can I color my hair?
- Can I drink coffee?
- Can I eat soft cheese?
- Can I have dental X-rays?
- Can I eat meat and raw meat during pregnancy?
Sex and Timing
- When am I most fertile, when is my fertile window?
- How often should we make love, every day or every other day?
- Likelihood of pregnancy when making love in relation to ovulation
Fertility Awareness And Charting
- Getting started with temperature charting
- Why chart your temperature?
- What is my first cycle day?
- What is a biphasic temperature curve?
- What does the "probability" mean in the expert evaluation?
- How do we find out the best day to have sex and improve our chances of conceiving?
- How do I take my basal body temperature?
- Could the temperature drop in my BBT chart mean that I am pregnant?
- Frequency of sex during the six fertile days and the probability of pregnancy
- Is too much sex a problem when we TTC?
- Cervical mucus: How long before ovulation does the CM become stretchy?
Sperm, Sperm Analysis, and Other Questions
- How long can sperm survive?
- Sperm survival and life after ejaculation
- How do we do a sperm analysis, a sperm count?
- What are the normal values in a sperm analysis?
- What are those strange names given in my sperm analysis?
- What causes a miscarriage?
- Am I more fertile after a miscarriage?
- How long after my miscarriage does it take to get pregnant again?
- After a miscarriage when is it safe to get pregnant again?
If you are just starting out and need more information, read below:
- The Dr. Amos Fertility Program
- Ten Tips to Get Pregnant Faster
- Basal Body Temperature Charting
- Improve Your Pregnancy Chances
- Twelve Steps to Boost Your Fertility
- Stress: An Impediment To Pregnancy
- Most Popular Fertility and Pregnancy FAQs
- Eat To Get Pregnant: The Fertility Diet