Some women are very in tune with their bodies. They know their monthly schedules like clockwork, if they are lucky enough to have that reliable of a cycle, or others can simply “feel” what their body is doing. A few believe they can even feel the moment when their body releases an egg each month.
Whether a person has this kind of relationship with their body, or this kind of instinct in terms of their cycle or not, many will make a point of becoming better acquainted with ovulation timing when they decide it’s time to try to have children. Most couples believe that conceiving quickly means they've done a good job, when a lot of the time it’s a matter of perfect timing or luck.
People joke about September babies being a product of festive December parties and New Year’s celebrations, and there are even spikes in births around nine months after a community has a major power outage, cause hey what else is there to do?
Health education class in high school had most teens believing that it’s as easy to have a baby, as it is to count to three. For women trying desperately to conceive without success, this contrast between what we’ve always been told may seem like a cruel joke. Conception doesn’t always come easily, sometimes it takes a lot of time, planning and effort.
Other times it takes professional help. Here are 15 ways to increase the chances of conception, so buck up, health class is in session once again!
15 Take Daily Vitamins
Many healthcare professionals will encourage healthy active women of childbearing years to take prenatal vitamins all the time, just in case they get pregnant, particularly if they aren’t using a very reliable measure of birth control. After all, they’re filled with things that your body needs anyway, and taking these vitamins will actually increase your chances of conceiving.
Fertility specialist Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., a co-author of the book Planning Parenthood, says, “Eating healthy will raise your chances of conceiving, and prenatal vitamins help fill in any holes in the mother’s diet.”
In the past, the only multi-vitamins that contained the minimal recommended 400 mcg per dose of Folic Acid required for a healthy pregnancy were prenatal ones. Today Folic Acid can be found at many health and drug stores, sold separately, so women who are more comfortable taking a regular multivitamin instead of a prenatal one can take that and supplement with an additional Folic Acid vitamin.
14 Control Weight Gain/Loss
Being both underweight and overweight can impact how long it takes for a woman to conceive. By finding and maintaining a healthy weight, a mother who is trying to conceive may find that this helps their chances of conceiving quickly.
In a research study completed, the body mass index (BMI) of 2,112 pregnant women was evaluated in order to determine how long it took each woman to conceive. Results showed that women who are considered to be overweight or dangerously obese by the BMI scale (with a BMI ranging between 25-39 before pregnancy) took twice as long to conceive compared to women within the normal range (18.5-24.9).
Being too thin had an even more profound impact on conception, with it taking four times longer for women with a BMI less than 19 to get pregnant. Making a change as little as five percent of your body weight will increase your chances of conception dramatically, and will prepare you for the healthy eating necessary throughout pregnancy.
13 Tune Into The Body’s Schedule
In the early days of family planning, the idea of having a child and conceiving a child can seem romantic, like something that just happens in a chance encounter, when you first start trying. For some lucky people that’s how it happens. For others it becomes about scheduling and ensuring that intercourse happens in the four to six day window during ovulation.
Some find it helps to get ovulation kits from their pharmacy in order to truly pinpoint the times when they are the most likely to successfully conceive. Some experts suggest that couples trend towards scheduling their time in the bedroom on the early side of the window, stating that many couples mistakenly wait until the day of ovulation to have intercourse, when pregnancy is truly most likely to happen within the window of the three days before ovulation.
Others find it’s helpful to keep track of their cycles on a calendar or even download an app on their mobile to help track and schedule their copulation “date nights”.
12 Wetter Isn’t Always Better
Practice makes perfect, and that could be said with intercourse when it comes time for conception. With an increased amount of time spent in the bedroom, some couples may automatically reach for the lube, but they should probably press pause first.
Lubrication is great for making hanky panky times more fun, but it isn’t good for sperm motility (the ability of organisms and fluid to move or get around). Some fertility experts recommend cutting out lubricant all together when trying to conceive since many popular brand named water based lubricants (i.e. Astroglide, and KY Jelly) can impact sperm motility by as much as 60 to 100 percent.
Others recommend using FDA approved “fertility-friendly” lubricants which have been developed by doctors to do their job without impacting sperm. Others recommend using “at home” lubes such as canola or peanut oil. Avoid using soaps or other impromptu methods of lubricant, since it’s unknown how they will impact sperm.
11 Cut Back On The Vices
There are a lot of rules about what you can and can’t do once you are pregnant, but there are also guidelines for things that someone looking to conceive should cut down on when trying to conceive in order to increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Studies have revealed that too much caffeine can impact the time it takes to get pregnant, so consider cutting down a little (this will also make it easier to cut down or quit cold turkey during pregnancy).
The same goes for alcohol. Most doctors will recommend moderation and suggest having less than 200 milligrams of caffeine each day, and no more than one or two servings of alcohol each day while trying to conceive. Have a cola habit? Consider cutting back on it. A 2012 study found that women who drank two or more servings of any kind of pop each day have a 16 percent lower fertility rate than women who sip water and forgo the soda.
10 Get The Daily Required Amount Of Sleep
Lack of sleep impacts our bodies in all sorts of terrible ways. The same can be said about what it will do for conception odds. Some research completed on women undergoing In Vitro Fertilization treatments (IVF) will get the best possible odds of getting pregnant when they manage to get in at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
Perhaps this is why women will often note that they conceive when on vacation, because they get more rest and are less stressed, and get a lot more sleep. Rose says a vacation destination was how they conceived their daughter, even though it wasn’t planned.
“My husband had been working 10 years at his job and he decided he wanted to go back to school. He quit his job, we had a toddler and decided to go on a family vacation to Cuba. I guess we relaxed a little too much, I found out I was pregnant with baby number two one week after he started his program.”
9 Exercise, But Not Too Much
Those who have a triathlon or other high intensity races on their bucket list may want to postpone their next race until after baby arrives. While regular exercise is important for a woman’s health and the odds of conception, too much can be a bad thing when it comes to getting pregnant.
Some research found that women lower on the BMI scale who worked out very intensely for more than five hours each week are 42 percent less likely to get pregnant than those who don’t hit the gym quite so often or hard. Another note would be ensuring that the prospective dad stay in shape, and off the couch.
Seriously, his sperm count will thank you. A study completed by Harvard in 2013 revealed that 44% of men who log more than 20 hours of TV time each week have lower sperm counts than men who barely watch any. The study also showed that overweight or obese men have increased odds of having lower total sperm counts.
8 Relax And Get A Handle On Stress
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to conceive and having your friend, good old “Fertile Myrtle”, tell you to relax and that it will happen. As annoying as good ol’ Myrtle is, she might be right. Recent research keeps on trending towards a link between stress, depression, anxiety, and infertility.
In some women, excess stress can cause a woman to ovulate less regularly and therefore impact the fertility window. Dr. Berga has said, “If your stress levels become high enough, you’ll simply stop ovulating.” Stress isn’t just bad for female reproduction, some research reveals that chronic stress may also negatively impact sperm production in men.
Another factor is that people who are really stressed tend to drink and potentially smoke more, the exact barriers to fertility we discussed above. Not to mention that stressed out couples are probably hitting the bedroom with their partners less often than their more relaxed peers.
7 Don’t Fall For Fertility Myths
There are a number of old wives tales surrounding fertility which may be a waste of your time. Sure, in a moment of frustration it can be tempting to try just about anything imaginable to conceive, but there are no real medical backings behind a number of measures people try out in order to conceive.
Some people believe a woman may not be able to conceive simply because her vagina needs a good solid deep cleaning care of a vaginal steam with some healing herbs that can be bought online, or you can make a homemade version. Others have tried inserting a menstrual cup for six hours following intercourse in hopes of it keeping the sperm where it needs to be.
A recent report revealed that myths don’t just exist for women. It turns out the early studies that told men to change from briefs to boxers actually didn't confirm any major difference in sperm count that was once promised. All of this being said, all of these myths aren’t particularly costly, so it’s easy to understand why so many people try them.
6 Don’t Skip Being Intimate
Some couples will “save up” their intimate time for the window of fertility. But this isn’t going to increase the chances of conceiving. After a week or so without ejaculating, a man’s sperm count will increase, but here’s the other literal kick in the pants, his sperm motility will decrease, which isn’t good for conception.
At around five days without release, a man’s sperm count is impacted negatively, so perhaps a minimal twice a week “date night” is in order. If you ask me, it makes the entire process a lot more clinical and a lot less fun.
One study revealed regular, daily intercourse produces the overall highest success stories in terms of conception, although this intense focus may put too much strains on some couples and their relationships. Thankfully for some less vigorous couples, intercourse every other day created results that were almost as effective as the daily couple’s efforts.
5 Cervical Mucus Monitoring
Most people know about ovulation tests, mentioned earlier, but there is another, completely free method to help increase the chances of conception. A recent study revealed that women who utilize the cervical mucus monitoring technique were more than two times as likely to conceive in any given month compared to women who did not monitor.
In order to monitor her mucus, a woman just needs to learn to pay attention to the changes in the viscosity of the cervical mucus throughout her cycle. When a woman is near ovulation her mucus will be thinner and more slippery in order to allow sperm to reach the egg more easily.
According to Live Science, just by simply being aware of this and planning intercourse accordingly and consistently, women are 2.3 times more likely to conceive when they monitor themselves for a six month period.
In the same Live Science article, Dr. Wendy Vitek, an OB-Gyn, says that it only makes sense that a woman who monitors her cervical mucus frequently will have a better sense of when she's ovulating. She suggests proactively getting to know your own body and its fertility rhythm.
4 Go With That Gut Instinct
Monitoring your cervical mucus is a way of ‘sort of’ going with the greater instincts in terms of when it’s a time that conception is most likely. Some people will attest that they just “knew” when they were going to conceive. Consider going for it at the time of the month when feeling like it’s going to be a home run, it might just work!
Frances says, “My husband and I knew we both always wanted to have children and were excited for the time to come that we would consider ourselves "ready" (or "ready as you'll ever be") to start our family. After years of getting ready to be ready, we decided that once we were officially engaged, we would pull the goalie and stop preventing pregnancy."
"The night he proposed, enchanted and finally engaged, we headed for some special alone time. In the moments leading up to our celebrating, we agreed that night was the night we would start trying to get pregnant and wouldn't employ our regular prevention tactics. When we were done my husband said, ‘That was the one’ - and sure enough we were super fortunate to have conceived.”
3 It Isn’t Always Planned & May Not Be Convenient
The expression, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is famous because it’s so profoundly true.
Sometimes life happens when you don’t plan it, literally with accidental conception. Kate says, “I'm a midwife, and many years ago, I had been actively promoting the female condom as a great new-(ish) barrier method, and thought I should put my money where my mouth is, and use it myself, if I was going to be such an evangelist for it to my clients."
"My partner and I got distracted and neglected to keep hold of the base of the female condom and lost track of it. We found it afterwards... balled up around my cervix, and no longer effective whatsoever... D'OH! And that was the exact moment my 2nd child was conceived."
"A decade later, we love her more than life itself, and she is a gift of joy in our lives: a dynamic, intelligent, compassionate, witty and beautiful human being. Easily the best unplanned surprise that has ever happened to me, ever.”
2 Get An Assist When Needed
If conception isn’t happening for you after around six months of trying, particularly if you’re a little older when you first start trying to get pregnant it might be time to seek professional help. Monitoring and other options can be explored prior to making a decision surrounding IVF, but professional help can increase the odds greatly of conceiving, even though it can be time consuming.
Lindsey says of her experience, “When my husband and I were trying to conceive, we had to go through fertility treatments. That meant that every three days I had to drive across town for a 7AM blood test and ultrasound. This particular weekend, my husband’s relatives, whom I had only met a handful of times were staying in our condo with us."
"To make things even more uncomfortable, we received a call from my clinic while I was out with his aunt. The nurse told my husband that I was ovulating and he had to be itimate with me at least once a day over the next three days. Being as open as I was about our fertility struggles, I told his family that we would need some private time over the weekend."
"They laughed and understood. That weekend we did conceive our daughter, Ayla.”
1 Have Fun With It
Enjoy connecting with each other beyond the intended results of the “deed at hand.” When people treat something like a chore, guess what? It becomes a chore that no one is looking forward to.
Once a couple has kids they’ll often look back at their “action packed” adventures in the bedroom like its ancient history. Use this time to really enjoy each other and savor these moments. Odds are, once baby arrives there will be plenty of nights, and months when intimate relations take a back seat.
The entire process can be frustrating, but getting stressed out about it and taking the fun out of it isn’t going to improve the odds of pregnancy. Make it about that day, that moment, and you might surprise yourself into having one of the better moments in the bedroom of your life, and hopefully in time, the result will also be a beautiful baby!