Sperm wage an epic battle just to get to the fallopian tubes. Most die on the way there, and only a few are left by the time they even get close to the egg. That egg has to be waiting at exactly the right time for the next step to happen. Then, the egg has to travel down to the uterus and implant there.
When you look at documentaries that show the process of conception in detail like Life Before Birth, you realize that human reproduction is really nothing short of a miracle. You can influence your odds of success by being healthy and timing intercourse, but a lot will still be left to luck. Are you and your other half trying to conceive, or are you thinking about going for it in the near future? You'll be looking for tips and information on getting pregnant probably as soon as possible! There are lots of proactive steps you can take to actively increase your chances of conceiving, and they could be divided into three sections:
- Female health
- Male health
- Timing intercourse
In this blog post, we will take a brief look at all those aspects.
Female health is perhaps the most important thing to examine, because female health increases the chances you will get pregnant and gives a new embryo the best chances when you do conceive. Because your health is so incredibly important to conception and pregnancy, you will want to see your family doctor or OBGYN for a preconception health checkup before you ditch your birth control method. At your preconception checkup, you can discuss issues like nutrition (including taking folic acid supplements you should start three months before trying to conceive), weight and Body Mass Index, blood pressure, chronic medical conditions, and sexually transmitted diseases (get tested, even if you are pretty sure you don't have any). You can also use the opportunity to discuss quitting smoking, if you currently smoke. While your doctor can be of enormous help, you need to do all the hard work to change your lifestyle, if necessary. Most women who are getting ready to try to conceive have some areas in which they can improve their health. Start working on a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a new regime to deal with chronic diseases where applicable. You may also want to see a psychologist. We all have unresolved issues relating to childhood and the way we were parented, and nine+ months before your baby is born is a wonderful time to start dealing with them.
Like women, men need to pay attention to their diets, and need to refrain from unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking (large amounts of) alcohol to maximize their fertility. They also benefit from STD testing (if one of you has an STD, the other probably does too and you can easily reinfect each other). Regular exercise is as important to men who want to become fathers as it is to their partners. Why not work out together? One health- and fertility issue women don't have to deal with is testicle overheating. Men who are trying to conceive should wear loose, cotton underpants or boxers. They should not have long, hot baths, and shouldn't ride a bicycle too often. Laptops on their "tools" are another big no-no that can really affect sperm quality negatively.
Timing intercourse to get pregnant
While couples who have sex every day or every other day throughout the cycle have good odds of getting pregnant within six months to a year, knowing the woman's fertile days can give your effort the extra boost that can lead to pregnancy right away. When it comes to tracking your ovulation, you have so many options that it can be tricky to decide which one is right. At Trying To Conceive, we've written about all these methods at length. Those who are interested should look at posts tagged "ovulation" and "fertility", and they can also ask questions about methods they are interested in within the comments section. One of us will answer your question. In the meantime, here is a list of methods you will want to research:
- Ovulation calendar
- Ovulation tests
- Charting your fertility using basal body temperature (BBT)
- Cervical mucus
- Natural ovulation signs like ovulation pain and tender breasts
- Saliva ovulation tests
I hope this post brought you a step closer to expecting a baby! Once again, feel free to ask any questions you have here or on the forum. And... good luck with the biggest adventure of your life (until you have your baby, that is!).