When couples decide they’re ready for a baby, pregnancy can’t come quickly enough. But for some, getting pregnant takes longer than expected. Whether you’re trying for your first child or your fifth, here are six ways to increase your child-bearing chances.
1. Study Your Cycle
Ovulation can be tricky to pin down. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 32 days, with ovulation typically occurring on day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. But many women have longer, shorter, or irregular cycles. Your best time to try and conceive is during the week before you ovulate. Tracking your cycle using a journal, app, or home ovulation prediction kit can remove some of the guesswork and help get the timing just right.
Pay attention to ovulation signs too. Women may experience pelvic pain on one side as an egg is released from the ovary. They may also have breast tenderness, spotting, or an increased sex drive. There are also some indications that ovulation is about to occur, such as a woman’s cervical mucus getting more clear, stretchy, and slippery (like egg whites). Basal or resting body temperature can help a woman determine when she’s ovulating. Temperature tends to decrease before ovulation and spike just afterward. Basal thermometers measure to the hundredth of a degree and can detect slight temperature shifts. Don’t be surprised if basal body temperatures are difficult to follow. Everybody is different and multiple factors can affect temperature. If your basal body temperatures do not follow a pattern, consider an app or ovulation prediction kit for better home monitoring.
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2. Make Sleep a Priority
Sex isn’t the only thing that should be happening in the bedroom when couples are trying to conceive. Sleep has loads of benefits, including helping to maintain a healthy body weight, lowering the risk of many diseases, and squashing stress — all important when getting the body ready for a baby.
Research also suggests a link between fertility and melatonin, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle and protects eggs from free radicals. Too much light at night (especially blue light from phones and other devices) disrupts melatonin production. To bring on the zzz’s, the National Sleep Foundation recommends declaring the bedroom a screen-free zone and turning off electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
3. Watch Your Diet — and Your Weight
Research suggests a link between a healthy pre-pregnancy diet and a healthy pregnancy.
Body weight matters too. Women who are considered underweight (body mass index of 18.5 or lower) may not ovulate regularly. Research has shown that obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher) may have a negative impact on fertility. For women trying to get pregnant, reaching a healthy weight can help regulate ovulation and periods.
4. Quit Smoking and Drinking
It’s common knowledge pregnant women shouldn’t drink or smoke, but both partners should consider abstaining when trying to conceive. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women stop drinking when trying to get pregnant.
Smoking can affect the quality and number of both sperm and eggs, leading to miscarriage, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. And this goes for all smoking. Research suggests that marijuana may affect male fertility.
5. Use “Sperm-Friendly” Lubricants
Trying to get pregnant and having sex on a schedule can sometimes ramp up stress and tamp down romance. An unpleasant but common result is vaginal dryness. Using a lubricant can make intercourse more enjoyable.
Research suggests certain lubricants can affect sperm motility. Avoid any that contain spermicide, which kills sperm. Consider trying a lubricant that’s specially formulated for couples who are trying to get pregnant.
6. Visit Your Doctor
Lots of factors can affect fertility, including age and the presence of certain medical conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome, celiac disease, or endometriosis. Before you start trying to get pregnant — or if you’ve been trying for several months without success— schedule an appointment with your ob-gyn to determine if any underlying conditions exist and plan the best course of action.
To learn more about fertility issues or schedule an appointment with the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, call 412-641-1000, option 1.
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About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.