How to Get Pregnant

Four Parts:Understanding the Basics of Getting PregnantBoosting FertilityKnowing When to See a SpecialistUsing Fertility TreatmentsCommunity Q&A

For some people, avoiding pregnancy is difficult. For others, however, conceiving a child can be elusive and frustrating. With so many fertility potions and products on the market promising fantastic results, it can be hard to figure out which is right for you. Several factors can affect fertility, but there are some things you can do to up your chances of a big fat positive.


Understanding the Basics of Getting Pregnant

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    Stop using contraceptives. Some birth control methods have a longer readjustment period than others, so be aware that you might not conceive right away. The time it takes for a woman’s body to be again ready to become pregnant after discontinuing contraception varies.

    • Hormonal contraceptives — such as oral birth control, hormone injections, or the Nuva Ring — might have a longer lag period while your body readjusts.
    • If you have an implanted contraceptive, such as an IUD, you need to see a health professional to have it removed.
    • If you were relying on barrier methods (such as condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms or sponges), you don’t need to worry about a readjustment period. This doesn’t mean you’ll conceive immediately, though.
    • Also, take caution to test for and prevent sexually transmitted infections if you were relying on these devices for protection.
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    Figure out when you’re fertile. If you can time it right, your odds of becoming pregnant will be much higher. There are a few tricks to tracking your ovulation:

    • Count forward from the first day of your last period. On average, most women ovulate 14 days after they first begin to menstruate. (Does this mean you should only start trying 2 weeks after your period? Not exactly. See Step 3 for more help!)
      • If you have regular cycles, you can often estimate the time of ovulation by dividing your cycle in half. For example, if your period usually lasts 28 days, you will likely ovulate around day 14 of your cycle (14 days after you begin menstruating). If you have a longer cycle, you may ovulate as late as 20 days after your period began.[1]
    • Download a tracking app. If you find it difficult to keep a calendar of your cycle, make an app do it for you. Search “ovulation tracker” and find one that works for you.
    • Take your basal body temperature. Your body’s temperature will rise slightly when you’re ovulating, so an uptick is a good sign that you’re fertile.[2] Keep a thermometer by your bed, and take your temperature first thing in the morning when you wake up. (Try to do it around the same time.) Jot down your temperature each day. If you notice a spike between 0.5 and 1 degree Fahrenheit that lasts more than a day, you might be ovulating![1]
      • Fertility is highest during the two to three days before your basal temperature rises[1] so if you can observe any month-to-month patterns in when your temperature rises, you can predict the best time to conceive.
    • Keep track of your cervical mucus. It sounds gross, but it works. When your vaginal discharge is clear and stretchy, like raw egg whites, you are most likely fertile and should plan on having sex daily for three to five days from the day you noticed this consistency in your discharge. Once the discharge becomes cloudy and drier, you are less likely to conceive.
    • Use an ovulation predictor kit. Just like buying a pregnancy test, you can pick up an ovulation predictor kit from your local drugstore. The cost can add up, though, so this might be a good way to jumpstart calendar charting by figuring out when you tend to ovulate.
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    Have sex. Once you know you’re fertile, get busy! When and how often you have sex can influence how quickly you conceive, so try these tips:

    • Start having regular sex slightly before ovulation. Here’s the thing: an egg is viable for about 24 hours, but sperm can survive for up to a week in the uterus. To make sure you don’t miss your shot, start trying to conceive a few days before you think you might ovulate.
    • Keep the sperm supply fresh. However, just because sperm can last up to a week doesn’t mean they’re in tip-top shape by then. To combat this, aim to have sex at least every other day while you’re fertile. (Though you can certainly try more often, too!)
    • Do not use spermicides, lubricants, or chemical stimuli. Products aimed at enhancing pleasure or preventing conception should be avoided during intercourse if you are trying to achieve pregnancy.[3]
    • Enjoy yourself. Orgasming after your partner ejaculates into you can help pull sperm into the cervix, which may facilitate the movement of your partner’s sperm.
    • Bask in the afterglow. Don’t make the sperm work against gravity — instead of getting up immediately afterward, lie back and relax for a few minutes. Studies on the efficacy of artificial insemination demonstrated that lying flat for 15 minutes after sex can increase your odds of conception up to 50%[4]
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    Test for pregnancy. Once the ovulatory period has passed, the waiting game begins. Wait until your next expected period — if it doesn’t show up, take a pregnancy test and see what happens! If you’re the impatient sort, you can try these methods a little earlier:

    • Keep taking your basal body temperature. If your temperature stays high for 14 consecutive days after ovulation, odds are good that you conceived.
    • Watch out for implantation symptoms. Some women experience an implantation bleeding, which usually turns up as slight spotting as the zygote attaches to the uterine wall. It usually happens 6 to 12 days after conception. You might also experience light cramping.


Boosting Fertility

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    Don’t get discouraged too soon. Most couples don’t get pregnant right away. Out of 100 couples trying to conceive every month, only 15 to 20 couples will succeed. However, 95% of couples trying to conceive will get pregnant within two years! You can’t control every factor of your fertility, but there are a few simple changes you can make to increase your odds.
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    Get a pre-natal checkup. Even if you haven’t hit any fertility roadblocks, a basic pre-conception physical is a good idea. Some pre-existing health conditions can be aggravated or significantly worsened by pregnancy. Your doctor will probably conduct a pelvic exam and order some basic blood tests. Some disorders you’ll want to catch before pregnancy include:

    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can interfere with ovulation.
    • Endometriosis, which can generally inhibit fertility.
    • Diabetes: If you can catch and manage diabetes before conceiving, you’ll be able to avoid birth defects commonly associated with the disease.
    • Thyroid disease: Like diabetes, thyroid disease is relatively non-threatening to your pregnancy as long as it’s diagnosed and well-managed.[5]
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    Get healthy. If you’re not conceiving right away, take this opportunity to focus on your physical well-being. You’ll improve your odds of getting pregnant, and you’ll be able to start the process on the right foot.

    • Lose weight. Studies demonstrate that clinically obese women have a harder time conceiving, as well as experiencing more problems during pregnancy. [6] If your body mass index (BMI) is a little high, consider spending some time on diet and exercise.
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    Take pre-natal vitamins. Starting before you get pregnant will build up the necessary nutrients in your system for a developing embryo. For example, taking folic acid supplements before trying to conceive may reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

    • Make sure your vitamins contain folic acid, calcium and iron.[8]
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    Watch what you eat. Some substances are harmful to your chances of conception, while others can harm your newly developing baby.

    • Consumption of pesticides may also be linked to pregnancy difficulties, so now may be a good time for couples to choose organic foods.
    • Avoid trans fat, often found in processed baked goods and sweetened foods. There is some evidence that a diet high in trans fat (especially relative to monounsaturated fat intake) can increase chances of infertility.[9]
    • Avoid questionably prepared raw fish, unpasteurized cheeses, sprouts, prepackaged foods that don’t look fresh, and lunch meats containing nitrates. These foods and other foods that are undercooked or improperly cleaned can lead to food poisoning or illness, reducing your chances of supporting a healthy pregnancy.
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    Eat foods thought to increase fertility. Traditional medicine and folklore have long held that certain foods promote or decrease fertility and sexual appetite. In recent years, scientific research has confirmed some of the potential biological mechanisms for certain foods’ perceived effects on fertility.

    • Eat a diet rich in organic plant-based foods that includes grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals provided by these foods are thought to improve cellular health and even promote a healthy uterine lining.
    • The right kinds of protein can help boost fertility; tofu, chicken, eggs, and some seafood are high in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, selenium, and other fertility-enhancing components.
    • Consuming full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk or full-fat frozen yogurt, can potentially improve fertility over a diet of only low-fat or fat-free dairy.[10]
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    Encourage your partner to eat foods that promote sperm health. Men should take a multi-vitamin that contains vitamin E and vitamin C, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, and fat and sugar intake.[11]

    • Men should also make sure they get plenty of selenium (55mcg per day), as selenium is suspected to increase fertility particularly in men.[12]
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    Avoid stimulants and depressants. Recreational substances — such as cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine and harder drugs — can slow your conception timeline. However, they’re also things you should avoid during pregnancy, so might as well start now! Here’s what to do:

    • Quit smoking. Not only is lighting up while you’re pregnant a bad idea, it can hinder your chances of conceiving in the first place.[13] Giving up an addiction while you’re pregnant can be extra stressful, so save yourself some suffering by quitting beforehand.
      • This goes for your partner, too! Men who smoke regularly have lower sperm counts and more abnormal sperm. [14] Second-hand smoke can affect your odds of conceiving, as well.
    • Stop drinking. Women planning to conceive should avoid alcoholic beverages for up to two months prior to attempting conception. This is especially true for couples who are having a difficult time conceiving.
    • Avoid excessive caffeine intake. This includes both food (like chocolate) and drink (like coffee). Women who drink more than three cups of a caffeinated beverage daily are significantly less likely to get pregnant compared to women who consume two cups or less.[15]
    • Do not use drugs. Illegal street drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, can impair your body’s ability to get pregnant and develop a healthy baby.
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    Address sexual dysfunction. If it’s a struggle for either you or your partner to get interested in sex, you might find it difficult to conceive. A qualified reproductive medicine professional or sex therapist can help you overcome these issues as a couple.

    • Try not to let infertility to strain your relationship. The pressure to conceive, as well as invasive and emotionally stressful fertility treatments, can actually lead to sexual dysfunction and make getting pregnant even harder.[16] Set a relaxing mood, don’t demand too much of your partner, and try to focus on this time as an opportunity to enjoy each other before you have to worry about the needs of a child.
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    Keep a positive and healthy mindset. Many people believe in the power that the mind has over the body; once you decide to become pregnant, some people believe that how you think about the process and your relationship may have an impact on your success. Stress can overwhelm your health even at the best of times, so keeping as much of a positive outlook as possible will help you both stay calm and keep healthy.

    • Focus on positivity and opportunity as much as possible. When you are with your partner, if your mind gets distracted, start imagining a beautiful baby until your mind comes back to your desire of becoming pregnant. The act of focusing on each other and your pregnancy goals may help you forget your other stresses. Just avoid dwelling too much on getting pregnant, lest that stress you out even further. If you reach a point where the stress of trying to get pregnant is itself a chore or seems overwhelming, it may be time to touch base with your doctor.


Knowing When to See a Specialist

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    Set a timeline. Patience is difficult when you’re trying to conceive, but try to give it time. Setting a deadline for seeing a doctor can help ease your anxiety and get you ready for the next phase of getting pregnant. Here’s when you should seek help:[17]

    • Healthy couples under the age of 30 engaging in regular (twice weekly) intercourse should be able to conceive within 12 months (plus time for readjusting after discontinuing birth control).
    • If you’re over 30, see a doctor after six months of trying. Women over the age of 30 and women who are peri-menopausal may experience difficulty in getting pregnant due to the natural decline in fertility that occurs as women age. In most cases, pregnancy can still be achieved but may take longer and require more targeted intercourse and lifestyle changes.
    • See a fertility specialist right away in a few special cases. If you have endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, prior cancer treatments, endometriosis, a history of miscarriages or you’re over 35, make an appointment with a reproductive specialist as soon as you want to conceive.
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    Get tested for common fertility problems. Everything from illness and stress to excessive exercise and medications can decrease fertility.

    • Certain medications can prevent or complicate conception. Provide your health practitioner with a complete list of medications, herbs, supplements, and any specialty drinks or foods you are eating so that he or she can evaluate your list for potential fertility blocks.
    • Get checked for sexually transmitted infections. Some infections can decrease your ability to conceive, while others can cause permanent infertility if left untreated.
    • Have a gynecological examination. In some cases, women may have a removable tissue barrier that is preventing sperm from reaching the egg, or may have a physical condition that affects the menstrual cycle, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.[18] In general, it’s a good idea to have regular gynecological exams once a year to make sure that you’re healthy.
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    Consider in-depth fertility testing. If both you and your partner have been given a clean bill of general health by a physician, consider sperm testing and medical monitoring of your fertility.

    • Men should have a semen analysis to check the quality and number of sperm emitted during ejaculation. Additional male fertility tests include a blood test to check for hormone levels and ultrasounds that monitor the ejaculation process or sperm duct obstruction.[19]
    • Fertility tests for women often include hormone tests to check for thyroid, pituitary, and other hormone levels during ovulation and at other times during the menstrual cycle. Hysterosalpingography, laparoscopy, and pelvic ultrasounds are more involved procedures that can be used to evaluate the uterus, endometrial lining, and fallopian tubes for scarring, blockage, or disease. Ovarian reserve testing and genetic tests for inherited infertility problems can also be performed.[20]


Using Fertility Treatments

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    Weigh your options. Fertility treatments can be expensive, stressful and time-consuming. Take some time to consider the commitment before you get started.

    • Discuss it with your partner. Make sure you’re both ready to commit financially and emotionally to such an exhaustive process. Talk about how long you’re willing to try treatments, what you’re willing to spend, and when or if you’d both want to consider other options, such as adoption.
    • Speak with a trusted health professional before visiting a fertility clinic. A health professional who has no motivation for promoting a particular therapy or procedure can help you and your partner understand the basic options for assisted reproductive therapies.
    • Evaluate your medical history. Some procedures carry risks, and others may only be advisable in women without certain health characteristics. A health professional that has your best interest in mind will not promote the use of technologies that are not appropriate for your individual situation.
    • Look at the costs. Many physicians can also give advice about understanding costs and insurance coverage and provide a realistic, unbiased idea of how long and how successful attempted reproductive assistance may be for you and your partner.
    • Find the right specialist. Ask for recommendations regarding particular fertility specialists or clinics, and get a referral if necessary.
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    Visit a fertility specialist or fertility clinic. Set an appointment just to talk about your situation and your expectations for getting pregnant.

    • Develop a list of questions before your appointment. Go over them with your partner to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Cover any concerns you have about costs, side effects, and the success of the treatments.
    • At your first visit, do not expect to have a physical evaluation or to begin treatment. Just show up ready to ask questions and learn about your options.
    • Do not feel obligated to commit to a particular treatment center after a single visit; visit several and keep your options open until you identify the best clinic for you.
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    Ask about NaPRO technology to get pregnant.[21] NaPRO attempts to correct individuals’ causes of infertility through improved, personalized fertility monitoring and targeted surgical intervention. In small trials, the process produced better results than in-vitro fertilization, and the procedures involved in NaPRO may be covered by many insurance plans.
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    Consider using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. IVF is considered the most effective and common method of achieving pregnancy through assisted reproductive technology.[22]

    • IVF involves the removal of mature eggs from your body (or that of a donor) and its fertilization with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm in a laboratory, with subsequent insertion of the fertilized egg into your uterus to promote implantation.
    • Each cycle can last 2 or more weeks, but most insurance companies pay for few — if any — IVF cycles. The process is invasive and both the egg extraction and the implantation portions of IVF carry risks.[23]
    • IVF is less likely to succeed in women with endometriosis, women who have not previously given birth, and women who use frozen embryos. Women over the age of 40 are often counseled to use donor eggs due to success rates of less than 5%.[24]
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    Ask about intrauterine insemination (IUI). If your fertility troubles are caused by difficulties in sperm reaching the egg or by sperm difficulties, artificial insemination or donor insemination may provide a solution.[25]

    • Artificial insemination involves the injection of sperm into the woman’s body to circumvent male ejaculatory problems. If the male partner’s sperm is infertile, a donor’s sperm can be injected into the woman’s body in an attempt to conceive as well. This process is often performed one day after ovulation hormones rise in the woman, and can be done in a doctor’s office with no pain or surgical intervention.[26]
    • IUI may be used for up to six months before trying alternate, more expensive, and more invasive therapies. In some cases, the therapy can be combined with fertility drugs for the woman, and the injection of healthy sperm works the first time.
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    Ask about other fertility treatments. In some cases, fertility drugs may be sufficient for elevating fertility hormones and allowing natural conception. In others, fertility options such as Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer (GIFT)[27] or surrogacy may be recommended.

Source: wikihow


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