When you’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood, there’s no way to predict exactly how soon you’ll see a positive pregnancy test. If you’re in pretty good health, and having regular sex without birth control, you should expect to conceive in your first year of trying. In general, about half of couples will get pregnant within 6 months, and about 70%-80% will get pregnant within 1 year. But you and your partner can boost your odds of being parents-to-be by knowing the dos and don’ts of fertility. Set yourself up for success with these guidelines.
Him: Keep Tabs on Your Health
There’s a big connection between your overall health and your reproductive health, so making time for a quick health check can go a long way for your fertility.
Good diet, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, better sleep patterns, less stress -- all those things have been correlated with semen quality. Your doctor can help you make any changes you might need to be your healthiest self, as well as address any issues that might be a barrier to baby-making. Avoid hot baths and saunas- The testicles are a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body, because that's a better temperature for sperm production, so anything that warms them up can potentially be an issue. It takes your body 2-3 months to make new, mature sperm. Another heat source to watch out for: laptops.
Her: Learn How to Read the Signs
All pregnancies start when egg meets sperm. So they need to be in the same place at the same time. To help that happen, you can keep track of when your ovaries release an egg, called ovulation, and have sex during that time frame.
If your cycle is regular (with periods coming 26 to 32 days apart), that may just mean having sex on days 8-19 after your period. If you have irregular periods, you may not be able to rely on the calendar alone to know when you’re ovulating. However, there are other ways your body tells you it’s go-time.
To start, take note of your daily discharge. Cervical mucus increases and becomes very thin, stretchy, and clear as you approach ovulation. Watch for a consistency like egg whites.
You can also track your basal body temperature (BBT), which is your body’s temperature when it’s fully at rest. A rise of 0.6 degrees or more for over 10 days is a sign that you’ve ovulated. But your most fertile time is 2-3 days before that boost. When you track it for a few months, you’ll get an idea of when you might ovulate on your next cycle. For a more precise measure of those pre-ovulation days, you can buy an ovulation predictor kit from the drugstore. It tests your urine for hormone levels that spike a few days before ovulation.
Watch your weight: extra pounds make you more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles, or to not ovulate at all. Losing even a small percentage of body weight can increase fertility and decrease health risks during pregnancy.
Being too thin impacts fertility, too. Not only are you more likely to have irregular periods if you’re underweight, you’re also at risk for preterm birth once you do get pregnant, and your baby is more likely to be born at a low birth weight.
It's fine to get in some moderate activity. But engaging in strenuous, vigorous and extreme exercise might impact your menstrual cycle, leading to infertility. So, pass on the marathon when you're trying to get pregnant.
Both: Timing of intercourse
Once you’ve got a handle on your fertile window, set a good schedule for sex. We recommend couples have sex about every other day from a few days prior to ovulation until a few days after. Doing it more often doesn’t hurt your odds, but there are some studies that show it may lower a man's sperm count.
Before trying to concieve, review your medications with your doctor to be sure they don’t affect your fertility -- or won’t cause harm to a future baby.
Birth control pills use these hormones to prevent pregnancy. But if you’ve recently stopped taking them, there’s no need to fret about a post-pill waiting period. Your body should be ready to conceive right away, even if you took them for years. The length of time you used any form of birth control doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant. Taking a daily folic acid supplement not only helps prevent birth defects, it may increase fertility as well.