How to Get Pregnant: Tips to Increase Your Fertility

Many couples assume they will be able to get pregnant the first month they are trying to conceive. Waiting may be the last thing you want to do when you’ve decided to have a baby, but having patience with the process can help make it easier.

Most couples become pregnant within six months to a year after deciding to have a baby. Read on to learn more about your fertility, how to improve your chances of conceiving, and when it may be time to ask for help.

Women with a pregnancy test at home

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Understanding Fertility

Many factors can affect your fertility. Understanding your cycle better can help to increase your chances of getting pregnant, which requires the fertilization of an egg.

Timing becomes the greatest issue because an egg is available to be fertilized for only about a 12 to 24 hour period each month, which is called ovulation.

Sex Timeline

Since the sperm can remain viable for several days in the reproductive tract, if you have unprotected sex and ovulate three days later, you can become pregnant.

The Menstrual Cycle

Paying attention to your menstrual cycle will help you better understand your fertility. The first day of your period is considered day one of your menstrual cycle. For women with a 28-day cycle, they tend to ovulate around day 14.

Getting to know your cycle length can help to make tracking your ovulation more predictable. For women with irregular periods, it can be more difficult to track your fertile window. Using techniques to help with tracking your ovulation can help with knowing when your fertile window is. 

How Does Birth Control Affect Ovulation?

The birth control pill prevents ovulation by maintaining more consistent hormone levels. Without a peak in estrogen, the ovary doesn't get the signal to release an egg, which eliminates the possibility of fertilization and pregnancy.

How Soon After Stopping Birth Control Can You Get Pregnant?

According to a recent study, 83% of people who stopped birth control were able to conceive within the first 12 months of trying.

Monitoring Fertility

If you're trying to get pregnant, there are ways you can monitor your fertility, which will help you increase your chances of getting pregnant. These include:

  • Using ovulation testing kits
  • Measuring basal body temperature
  • Detecting cervical mucus changes

Ovulation Testing Kits

Luteinizing hormone helps to control your menstrual cycle and triggers the release of a mature egg. The amount of this hormone increases a few days before ovulating and it can be detected in urine.

Ovulation testing kits are similar to urine pregnancy tests, but they instead test for the presence of the luteinizing hormone. You can begin using ovulation tests a few days before you think you will ovulate.

When to Use Ovulation Tests

If you are on a 28-day cycle, and assume ovulation about day 14 of your cycle, you can begin using ovulation tests on day 10 or 11 of your cycle.

Once you get a positive test, you are in your fertile window and should have sex that day and occasionally over the next few days.

Basal Body Temperature

Your basal body temperature is your body temperature after a period of rest. During ovulation, your body temperature at rest increases slightly.

This has become a tool to help women understand when they are ovulating, and a mature egg has been released.

When to Take Your Temperature

Track your basal body temperature before getting out of bed in the morning. You can record the results on paper or in an app to track your pattern for body temperature.

The most fertile window is two to three days before your temperature rises.

Cervical Mucus Changes

The mucus produced by the glands around your cervix change throughout your menstrual cycle. Monitoring the changes in cervical mucus is another clue you can use to see when you are about to ovulate.

The rise in hormones just before you ovulate changes your mucus. It becomes thicker and sticky. It may also look creamy in color and you may notice an increase in mucus production.

Timing

The egg can only be fertilized 12 to 24 hours after being released.

This makes timing important. Under good conditions, sperm can live inside the female body for up to five days.

Research supports that having sperm present in the body during ovulation increases the chances of the egg being fertilized.

If you aim to have sex every other day or three to four times a week, you will likely have sex during your fertility window. If you try to have sex just during your fertility, there is the chance you could miss the window if you tracked wrong that month.

Lubricant and Fertility

Some types of lube make it more difficult for the sperm to travel to the egg.

If you need to use lube, try hydroxyethylcellulose-based lubricants.

Increasing Fertility

A healthy lifestyle helps to promote fertility and helps with a healthy pregnancy.

Consider going for a pre-conception check-up to ask your OB-GYN any questions you have about pregnancy and monitor any health conditions you have that could affect your fertility.

Mental Health and Pregnancy Planning

Difficulty getting pregnant is associated with an increased risk of persistent depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. If you are experiencing any mental health symptoms related to trying to get pregnant, seek the help of a medical professional.

The tips included to help promote fertility are suggestions based on research that could help increase your fertility, but it isn’t your fault if you struggle to get pregnant.

Tips to increase fertility:

  • Eat a balanced diet full of nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein)
  • Drink water, recommendations are for 2 to 3 liters per day
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
  • Move daily and exercise, but avoid overly strenuous workouts
  • Take a prenatal vitamin
  • Consider limiting caffeine (since that may affect fertility).
  • Consider eliminating alcohol
  • Quit smoking, if you smoke

When to Ask for Help

If you're trying to get pregnant, it may be time to see a doctor if:

  • You've been trying to conceive for at least one year and are less than 35 years old.
  • You are more than 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for at least six months.

It can be difficult to ask for help, but if you are struggling to get pregnant you are not alone. About 12% of women have difficulty getting pregnant and carrying the pregnancy for the full term.

Seeing your doctor can provide additional support to help you understand why you haven’t conceived and potentially provide answers to help.

A Word From Verywell

It’s normal for it to take couples six months to one year to become pregnant. Use this time to learn more about your cycle and try to keep the conceiving fun to decrease the anxiety that can come from not being pregnant yet.

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