There is no universal answer to the question of how to get pregnant.
However, there are some things that you can do to boost your fertility and increase your odds of conception.
In this article, we will discuss the science behind pregnancy and how you can help improve your fertility.
We will cover everything from how ovulation works and what is the best way to improve sperm quality to how you can avoid common fertility problems. We will also discuss some alternative methods for boosting fertility and what the best indicators are for when a woman can get pregnant too.
How does pregnancy work?
Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized by a sperm and implants in the lining of the uterus. If you are a woman who has regular menstrual cycles, you ovulate or release an egg around day 14 of your regular cycle. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube where it is met by sperm.
If all goes well, the egg is fertilized by the sperm and implants in the lining of the uterus about 6 to 12 days later. From there, pregnancy hormones take over and help support the pregnancy until delivery.
What are the best indicators of when to get pregnant for women?
Every woman is different and there is no perfect time to conceive; however, if you are trying to get pregnant, it is best to have sex regularly throughout your cycle. Regular sex will help ensure that sperm is present when the egg is released.
Typically, the best time for you and your partner to have sex is seven days before your ovulation with ovulation usually occurring 14 days before your period. If you are unsure of when you ovulate due to irregular cycles there are other ways to indicate when you are fertile and they include:
Ovulation predictor kit
An ovulation predictor kit is a test that you can do at home to help determine when you are ovulating.
The kit works by measuring the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine, which increases just before ovulation.
To optimize the test, you need to take it several days before you think you may ovulate and when you get a positive result you and your partner are supposed to have sex that day until a few days later to help your chances of getting pregnant.
Basal body temperature charting
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period and it rises slightly when you ovulate.
To track your BBT, you need to take your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up using a basal body thermometer and chart it on a graph. After a few months of charting, you may be able to see a pattern emerge that will help indicate when you are ovulating.
Changes in your cervical mucus
In the days leading up to ovulation, you may notice changes in your cervical mucus.
The mucus will become clear and slippery, similar to raw egg whites, and will stretch between your fingers. When this occurs it is called fertile-quality cervical mucus and it helps sperm travel to the egg.
Your mucus will stay this way until ovulation and you and your partner need to have sex daily or every other day during this period to ensure optimal chances of conception.
The cervical mucus will change again to become thicker, stickier, and possibly cloudy when ovulation has occurred which indicates that you are no longer in your fertile period.
Follicular monitoring is a method used by fertility specialists to track the development of the egg in the follicle, which is a sac containing your maturing egg.
Your doctor will perform an ultrasound and take blood tests to measure hormone levels every few days which helps them determine when ovulation is about to occur so that they can time artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization accordingly, or so you can determine when the best time is to have sex with your partner.
What are the best ways to help boost fertility for men and women?
There are a few things that both men and women can do to help boost your fertility which we will detail below.
Both men and women
Some things can boost fertility for both men and women and they include:
Maintaining a healthy weight
Being either overweight with a high body mass index (BMI) or underweight can affect your hormone levels and lead to ovulation problems or sperm abnormalities.
The best way to do this is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
STIs can damage your reproductive organs and make it difficult to get pregnant as certain STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility in both women and men.
Manage stress levels
Stress can also lead to hormone imbalances that interfere with ovulation in women or sperm production in men. Taking some time for yourself to relax through activities such as yoga, meditation, or massage can help reduce stress levels.
Smoking cigarettes can damage your reproductive organs and affect fertility such as a low sperm count or aging ovaries and premature depletion of eggs.
Limit alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of ovulation disorders in women and impotence, decreased testosterone levels, and decreased sperm production in men.
It is recommended that you only have moderate alcohol consumption or that you abstain from alcohol while trying to conceive if you are a woman.
Avoid exposure to toxins
Environmental factors such as exposure to certain toxins like lead, mercury, and pesticides can cause negative effects such as a higher risk of infertility in both men and women.
Do not use lubricants during sex
Lubricants such as K-Y Jelly can kill sperm so it is best to avoid using them when trying to conceive. If you must use a lubricant then we recommend using a sperm-friendly one with a minimal impact on fertility such as Pre-seed, olive oil, canola oil, mineral oil, or mustard seed oil.
In addition to the things that both men and women can do to help boost their fertility, there are also things that can reduce female infertility which are:
Limit caffeine consumption
Caffeine is fine to drink to a certain point but it has been shown to hinder your chances of conception if you have too much caffeine intake. It is best if you only have one or two cups of coffee a day that is no more than 6-8 ounces.
Do not overexercise
Exercise is good to remain healthy and maintain a healthy weight; however, too much exercise can lead to irregular periods or no periods at all. The reason this happens is that it can change hormone levels and how they function in your body, making it difficult to ovulate.
Avoid irregular work schedules
Working irregular hours, especially at night, can also affect hormone levels and how they function in your body, making it difficult to ovulate.
Some things you can do as a man to boost your fertility include:
Avoid medications that cause fertility issues
Certain medications can have negative side effects that lead to poor sperm quality in men such as anabolic steroids, antiandrogens, cancer treatments, opioids, and some antidepressants. If you are taking any of these medications then you need to speak with your doctor about how they may affect your fertility.
Keep your testicles cool
Your testicles need to be a few degrees cooler than your body temperature for sperm to mature properly which means that you need to avoid hot tubs, saunas, or tight-fitting underwear as they can increase your scrotal temperatures and lead to fertility concerns.
What causes fertility problems in women?
The most common cause of fertility problems in women is ovulation disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems, and hormonal disorders.
Another common cause is damage to the fallopian tubes which can be caused by STIs, endometriosis (when tissue from inside the uterus grows outside of it), or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Congenital or acquired abnormalities in the uterus or cervix such as fibroids or polyps can also lead to fertility problems.
Primary ovarian insufficiency, also called early menopause, can stop your ovaries from ovulating while pelvic adhesions caused by scar tissue can also decrease your chances of conception.
Finally, other medical conditions that can affect your menstruation can also make it difficult to get pregnant including lupus, diabetes, and celiac disease.
If you have any of these issues and are having trouble getting pregnant, please talk to your doctor or fertility specialist.
What causes fertility problems in men?
If you are a man you can suffer from a variety of medical problems that can affect your reproductive health and they include the following:
- Age as your sperm count and semen quality tends to decrease above the age of 50
- Testicular disease
- Problems with your pituitary gland or hypothalamus as these are the sections of your brain that signal for your testicles to make sperm and testosterone
- Sperm transport disorders that are caused by a varicocele (enlarged veins in your testicles), infection, or retrograde ejaculation (when semen enters your bladder instead of coming out through the penis during orgasm)
If you think you have any of these health concerns please see your doctor for fertility treatment.
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Are there alternative ways to boost fertility?
Yes, there are some alternative ways to help boost fertility including eating a healthy diet, taking multivitamins, and taking dietary supplements.
A healthy diet that may help you and your partner become pregnant includes:
- Avoiding any trans fat or processed foods
- Limiting your carb intake, especially refined carbs such as sugary foods and sugary drinks
- Eating more fiber
- Eating high-fat dairy to possibly increase fertility
- Eating foods with high antioxidant levels as antioxidants can help rid you of free radicals that can damage your body
Multivitamins can also help improve fertility as they can provide you with the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy.
It is especially important to take a prenatal vitamin high in folic acid if you are a woman to help reduce the risk of birth defects. Other dietary supplements have some evidence that they may help improve fertility although more research is needed.
These supplements include maca, royal jelly (a secretion from bees), bee pollen (pollen harvested by bees), and bee propolis (a sealant made by bees using wax).
Please note that it is important to speak with your doctor before taking any type of supplement as they can interact with medications you are already taking or have other side effects.
Pregnancy is a complex process that involves many different factors.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, there are some things you can do to help boost your fertility; however, what you do to help boost your fertility will depend on whether you are a man or woman and the cause of your fertility problems.
Some common ways to boost fertility for both men and women include eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. You also need to avoid certain things such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, exposure to toxins, and STIs.
Knowing what time of the month you are most fertile as a woman is also important and we detail several ways to do this above.
If you have any more questions regarding fertility or how to boost it, please talk to your doctor, fertility specialist, or health care provider.
References, Studies and sources:
Bridget Reed is a Tampa-based content development manager, writer, and editor at GR0; specializing in content related to varying fields including medicine, health, and small businesses. Bridget went to St. Petersburg College and majored in Management and Organizational Leadership.
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