Maybe you’re really eager to get pregnant, or maybe you’re hoping to have a baby at a certain time of year. Here are five ways to boost your chances of conceiving quickly as well as some guidelines on when to be concerned about a possible fertility problem.
1. See your healthcare provider
You’re more likely to have a successful pregnancy when your body is up to the task. Lay the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy by scheduling a preconception checkup with a doctor or midwife to find out whether you’re in your best baby-making shape – and to learn what changes could help.
You may not be able to resolve any health issues immediately, but taking these steps as soon as possible prepares you for a healthy pregnancy.
2. Plan for a healthy pregnancy
Begin taking folic acid at least one month before you start trying to conceive. This nutrient can dramatically reduce the risk of certain birth defects.
Other good advice that may help you conceive a healthy baby: Kick any unhealthy habits (like drinking, smoking, or using drugs), get yourself to a healthy weight, and limit your caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams a day (about 16 ounces of coffee).
Find out what else you can do ahead of time to give your baby a healthy start.
3. Figure out when you ovulate
The key to getting pregnant quickly is figuring out when you’ll ovulate, or release an egg from your ovary.
You ovulate only once each menstrual cycle. If you can tell when you’ll ovulate, you and your partner can time intercourse for the best chance of getting pregnant that cycle.
You can use a few different methods to determine when you ovulate. Our article on predicting ovulation walks you through them.
(If you have irregular periods, pinpointing ovulation could be difficult. Ask your provider for advice.)
4. Have sex at the right time
Once you know your time frame for ovulation, plan to have sex during your most fertile window, which is two to three days before ovulation through the day you ovulate.
If you’re not sure when your fertile period will be, aim to have sex every day or every other day during the second and third weeks of your cycle. That way you’re likely to have healthy sperm in your fallopian tubes whenever your body releases an egg.
Another tip: If you and your partner are waiting to have sex until your most fertile time, make sure you haven’t gone through too long of a dry spell beforehand. Your partner should ejaculate at least once in the days just before your most fertile period. Otherwise there could be a buildup of dead sperm in his semen.
(Note: Many vaginal lubricants, including store-bought products as well as homemade versions like olive oil, can slow down sperm. If you want to use one, ask your provider to recommend one that’s fertility friendly.)
5. Give sperm a boost
Strong, healthy sperm have the best chance of fertilizing an egg. Your partner can do several things to try to improve his fertility:
- Skip tobacco and recreational drugs.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than three a day.
- Get to a healthy weight if significantly overweight.
- Get enough of certain key nutrients – like zinc, folic acid, and vitamin C – that help produce strong and plentiful sperm.
- Don’t use hot tubs and saunas or take hot baths because heat kills sperm. (Testicles function best at 94 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit, a couple degrees cooler than normal body temperature.)
The sooner your partner makes these changes, the better: Sperm take a while to mature, so any improvements now will yield better sperm specimens in about three months.
How long to try before getting help
If you’re younger than 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant after trying for a year, it’s time to see a fertility specialist. If you’re 35 or older, talk to a specialist after you’ve tried for six months with no luck.
Of course, if you know there’s a reason you or your partner are more likely to have a fertility problem, it’s a good idea to see a specialist even before you start trying.