Updated: Mar 12
During our education and teenage years, we are led to believe that conceiving is very easy to do and having sex just once is likely to result in a pregnancy. The reality for most people, however, is more complicated. This is especially true as statistics show that more and more women are not starting a family until later in life, and fertility reduces dramatically for women when they approach their mid-30s.
If you and your partner are hoping to get pregnant and would like to maximize your chances, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances. This guide includes important information and tips for women that can help them to improve their likelihood of conceiving a baby.
Have sex regularly
The first and, hopefully, the most obvious way to maximize your chances of getting pregnant is to have sex regularly. However, this does not necessarily mean having sex every day (unless you want to), as this can place a lot of pressure and fatigue on you as a couple. Sperm can survive in the uterus for up to 5 days, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact time of ovulation, so medical professionals recommend having sex every 2-3 days. It is also worth noting that a man’s sperm count tends to be higher in the morning.
Drinking 8-10 cups of water each day is a good idea at any time of life, but it can be particularly helpful when trying to conceive. This is because drinking water flushes out the waste from your body, improves the quality of your cervical fluid, and keeps all the cells and organs in your body working at their best.
Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol can reduce your fertility and, should you conceive, can be harmful to the baby as it develops. This is why it is a good idea to limit or avoid alcohol entirely when you have decided to get pregnant.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine constricts your blood vessels which reduces the amount of blood that flows to the uterus. This can affect fertility and the development of a baby. It is best to reduce caffeine intake to under 300mg per day. Click here for the caffeine content of coffee, tea, soda, and more.
It is always a healthy move to stop smoking, but women who smoke have a 40% lower chance of conceiving. WebMD has some handy tips to help people quit smoking.
Regular exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle as it can help you to maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that women at a healthy weight are more likely to conceive, to carry a pregnancy to full term, and to have a healthy baby. A fit body is also better able to cope with the physical changes associated with pregnancy and labor. It is important, however, not to over exercise as this can detrimentally impact fertility.
Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet will keep the body in good condition and provide you with all the vitamins and minerals needed for conception and pregnancy. Recommended foods include leafy greens, fortified breakfast cereals, pulses, and citrus fruits that contain folic acid. Iron and zinc-rich foods, as well as fiber and mono-saturated fats like nuts, are also recommended. It is also a good idea to take supplements that support conception like folic acid, l-arginine vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Manage your stress
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can inhibit your ability to get pregnant. Take time to relax and look for ways to manage sources of stress in your life.
Keep a menstrual calendar
Your menstrual calendar (including the start date of your period, how long it lasts, and any accompanying symptoms) will help you to understand when you are at your most fertile so you can plan sex accordingly.
It is important to remember that even couples who have healthy lifestyles and follow all the medical advice out there still only have around a 30% chance of getting pregnant in each cycle. This is why it takes, on average, up to a year for most couples to conceive. However, if you have been trying for a year with no success, you may want to look for fertility clinics near me to get yourselves tested and assess your options.
Some tips for your partner
Of course, it takes two to tango, and the responsibility of conceiving does not sit with the woman alone. There are lots of steps men can take to improve their fertility, including:
Avoiding alcohol as it can lower their sperm count, even when only drunk in small amounts.
Trying to keep their genitals cool by avoiding tight underwear, hot showers, or baths.
Quitting smoking as smoking can reduce sperm count and motility.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet with zinc supplements to strengthen reproductive health.
Maintaining a work-life balance that avoids highly stressful situations or being fatigued on a regular basis.
Avoiding exposure to toxins such as pesticides, radiation, chemicals, solvents.
Avoiding drugs like cannabis that can affect sperm count, speed and can lead to sperm abnormalities.
Swapping cycling (which can damage the groin) for other exercises like running.