Fertility has been on your mind a lot lately, because you’re dying to get pregnant right now. But here’s the thing: You’re probably going to have to work at it a bit. In fact, there are only six days a month that you can get pregnant. On average, most couples will conceive a baby within the first six months of timed intercourse, according to a 2003 study. But, how long it takes to get pregnant is unique for every couple, with variables such as age, general health, and underlying fertility issues factoring in.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, and plenty of people do — 12 percent of women ages 15 to 44 in the US have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control — medical treatments like clomid and IVF don’t have to be your first course of action. There are natural ways to boost your fertility, like these…
1. Achieve the Big O. Sure, it’s not mandatory for you to come, but having an orgasm is an easy fertililty booster; it helps increase your odds of getting pregnant. Oh — and it’s fun, too. Woohoo!
2. Choose the right lubricant. Some lubes have been shown to slow down sperm, so do your research before you slick the slippery stuff on. A study last year found that you should use mineral oil instead of commercial lubes.
3. Stop smoking — both of you. Smoking cigarettes harms your health in many ways (as you already know), so it’s no surprise that it’s hazardous to your reproductive health. “Even second hand smoke dramatically lowers fertility in both men and women,” says Serena Chen, MD, the Director Reproductive Medicine, IRMS at Saint Barnabas, New Jersey.
4. Don’t soak in hot water. Soaking in a hot bath at night (or hot tub at the gym) can lower your chances of getting pregnant, especially if it’s your partner taking the hot soaks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Let things get steamy in the shower instead.
5. Keep track of your fertile days. If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, for example, there are about six days each month when you can get pregnant — the day you ovulate (when one of your ovaries releases an egg), and the five days before you ovulate, according to WebMD. Ovulation calculators and over-the-counter prediction kits can help you pinpoint the days when you’re most likely to conceive.
6. Have sex before you ovulate. That’s right — before. According to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, you’re most likely to conceive when you have sex two days before you ovulate.
7. Eat a healthy (and substantial) breakfast. Consuming just over 50 percent of your day’s calorie allotment during your morning meal has been shown to improve ovulation rate — as long as your breakfast consists of a healthy choice, such as whole-grain cereal with skim milk, lean breakfast burritos with eggs, fiber-rich toast with nut butter, or fruit and yogurt with granola.
8. Exercise every day. Studies have shown that women who exercise daily increase their chances of getting pregnant. You don’t have to run with the latest complicated fitness craze; something as simple as a brisk morning walk, a daily cardio DVD, or swimming laps at the gym can make your more fertile.
9. Follow a low glycemic index diet. It will help prevent dramatic blood sugar ups and downs, which can affect your fertility. “Some of the most effective things, like this diet, are not so fun or glamorous or easy,” says Dr. Chen. But, this method can work, particularly for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—a common baby-making hurdle.
10. Make sure you’re at your ideal weight. “Obesity in this country is rising rapidly and many people do not realize how much obesity impacts your fertility,” warns Dr. Chen. So, if you’re not at your ideal weight work with your doctor to get there — before you get pregnant.
11. Eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. Known as “good fats,” omega-3s are good for you, your fertility, and your baby’s development. And they’re in all kinds of food, including walnuts, eggs, and fish. (Just be sure to avoid fish that’s high in mercury while you’re trying to conceive and once you’re pregnant.)
12. Increase your fiber and iron intake. Diets high in both fiber and iron have been shown to help promote good reproductive health, according to researchers at Harvard.
13. Just say no to drugs. Smoking weed (or taking other illegal drugs) even occasionally can be harmful to your fertility (and your partner’s, too). Some prescription drugs are a no-no when you’re trying to conceive, too, so check with your doctor about the safety of the meds you’re both taking.
14. Go easy on the booze. You don’t need to stop drinking, just drink less. Dr. Chen recommends no more than three servings of alcohol a week for both men and women. (One serving is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor — so no house pours, OK?) “Women should not have any alcohol after they ovulate,” she adds.
15. Be sure to get your physical each year. A good primary care doctor will help you stay in optimal health, notes Dr. Chen, and your ob-gyn can help identify (and treat) fertility problems.
16. Get him to eat lots of fruits and veggies. The nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich foods found in the produce aisle can help promote the production of strong, healthy sperm, according to researchers at The Mayo Clinic.
17. Skip the Grande Double Shot Mocha Latte. You shouldn’t consume more than “400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of caffeine a day,” says Dr. Chen. That’s about two cups of tea or half a cup of coffee. Yet another reason to get a good night’s sleep!
18. Don’t wait too long to get pregnant (if you can help it). Your fertility will peak between the ages of 23 and 31, David Adamson, MD, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, told Marie Claire. After age 31, your fertility will drop by around 3 percent each year until you hit 35. From there, your fertility will decline faster.
19. Cut out the meat. Researchers at Harvard found that women who get their protein from veggies rather than animals have a slightly higher success rate of getting pregnant. With so many delicious vegetarian recipes out there, it can’t hurt to give this one a try!
20. Watch out for Listeria. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected from this bacteria, which lives in raw and unpasteurized foods, than women who aren’t pregnant. And here’s the thing: Listeria can cause you to have a miscarriage before you even realize you’re expecting. Read labels, cook food properly, and educate yourself on what to avoid.
21. Relax and have fun. The stress of trying to make a baby has been shown to decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Make sex fun and exciting—not just a job to show up to. Trying new things, whether that means a fun sex toy, sexy movie, or new sex position, can keep you from worrying about the task at hand.
More Resources for Boosting Your Fertility Naturally
- Fertility Diet: What to Eat When You’re TTC
- Optimizing Natural Fertility
- How Vaginal Lubricant Affects Your Natural Fertility
- Natural Family Planning
- Female Fertility: Why Lifestyle Choices Count