How to Get Pregnant

Getting pregnant seems like it should be easy, but sometimes it takes longer and is more difficult than you'd expect. On top of proper timing, there are also a few important practices that will significantly boost your odds of conceiving. The information on this page will walk you through all of the best ways to help you achieve pregnancy.

Disclaimer The content in this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your doctor before using the information presented here.

Inroduction o So many people put such great effort into avoiding pregnancy that it seems like the moment you try getting pregnant you should instantly succeed. Unfortunately, for many people it's not that easy. Read on to learn the things you can do (besides the obvious!) to get pregnant. Step 1: Before You Start Trying o Before you begin trying to achieve pregnancy, it's best to be in the top possible health. You should also eliminate anything in your life that could damage your fertility.

Step 2: Learn When You're Most Fertile
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A woman isn't fertile every day of her cycle. A study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed women can only get pregnant six days out of the monthly cycle - the five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself [1]. If you and your partner are only having sex once a week, you may be missing your ovulation window! You may have learned in high school health class that ovulation takes place 14 days after the start of your period, but that's only for people who have a consistent 28-day cycle, says the Mayo Clinic - and not even all of those people ovulate at the same time [1]. By noting just a few pieces of information

(your waking body temperature, cervical fluid characteristics, and cervical information) on a calendar or chart, you can confidently predict when you will ovulate, and have intercourse at the time when it is most likely to get you pregnant [2]. Materials You'll Need For Fertility Tracking o In order to accurately determine when you are most fertile, you'll need a few simple tools. 2. If you do not already own one, purchase a basal thermometer. A standard thermometer is not precise enough for fertility charting. 3. Print out a fertility chart, or sign up for a fertility charting service online.  Fertility UK has fertility charts that can be used with Microsoft Excel.  You can print this free chart from Ovulation Calculator: Ovulation Calculator.com.  You can sign up for free fertility tracking software at Fertility Friend, although payment is required to access the full-featured version.  iVillage offers an online version of the Ovusoft fertility tracking software that is very easy to use. It requires a paid subscription, although there is a free trial available. It is available here on the iVillage Web site: iVillage Fertility Planner Charting Your Basal Body Temperature o A woman's temperature goes up between .4 and .8 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of ovulation, says the Mayo Clinic [1]. A basal thermometer measures temperature in one-one hundredth of a degree increments, making it precise enough for the task. 2. Start taking your temperature the first day of your period. 3. Keep your basal thermometer next to your bed. If you get out of bed to get it, your movements will increase your body temperature and your readings will not be valid [2]. 4. You must have at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep for the temperature reading to be valid, says Revolution Health [3]. 5. You should check your temperature around the same time every morning, says WebMD [4]. 6. As soon as you've taken your temperature, enter the information into that day's area of your fertility chart [5]. 7. You should see your temperature jump up significantly about halfway through the month. This means you've just ovulated [6]. 8. Your temperature should stay elevated until your next period begins, says WebMD [[7]. 9. Fertility UK has great examples of temperature charts. Detecting Changes In Your Cervical Fluid o If you're female, you've probably noticed that your underwear gets a bit damp on certain days. This is because of cyclical changes in your cervical mucus. The amount and texture of your cervical fluid (also known as cervical mucus) changes based on how close you are to ovulation, the US Department of Health and

Human Services says [1]. At your most fertile point, your cervical fluid changes to a consistency that helps sperm move toward the egg, says WebMD [2]. WebMD says charting your cervical fluid is a very effective method of determining if you're fertile [3]. It requires some comfort with your own body, but is easy to get used to. 2. WebMD advises that you should check your cervical fluid every time you go to the bathroom [4]. You can do this by running either a clean, dry finger or a piece of toilet paper across your vaginal opening. 3. For several days after your period, you probably won't see any cervical fluid at all, says the US Department of Health and Human Services [5]. 4. When you start seeing cervical fluid, it will be tacky and thick, with a white or creamy color, Registered General Nurse Jane Knight says [6]. It might remind you a little of rubber cement. 5. Over the next several days, Knight says, it will become thinner and wetter, and increase significantly in amount [7]. 6. When you are fertile, your cervical fluid will look and feel like raw egg whites, says Dr. Roger Harms [8]. It will also be very stretchy [9]. 7. If you use douches or other feminine hygeine products, it will alter your cervical fluid, making it difficult to judge if you are fertile, says the Mayo Clinic [10]. 8. If you want to improve your cervical fluid, a study in Fertility and Sterility suggests that 200mg of guaifenesin three times a day will make it thinner and improve fertility [11]. Guaifenesin is the active ingredient in cough medicines such as Robitussin. Detecting Changes In Your Cervix o Your cervix changes position and density throughout your cycle, says WebMD, becoming soft and wet when you are fertile [1]. If you are comfortable with your body, you can check your cervix daily throughout the month to identify when you are most fertile. 1. Knight says your cervix will feel a bit like the tip of your nose - firm and dry [2]. It should be easy to reach [3]. 2. When you ovulate, it will be soft, wet, and a bit harder to reach, says WebMD [4]. o The website The Garden of Fertility has a number of pictures of women's cervixes at various points in the cycle. Reading Your Chart o As you enter all this information into your chart, you will begin to see how it all fits together. You'll develop a very clear picture of when you are fertile. o For more information and resources on fertility awareness, see Mahalo's Natural Family Planning page. Step 3: Make Sex Productive As Well As Fun o Fertility specialists have advice on things you can do to ensure that intercourse is more likely to result in pregnancy. 1. Dr. Donnica Moore says the missionary position is more likely to get a woman pregnant [1].

2. Don't use artificial lubricants or lubricative oils during sex; they can kill off sperm, says WebMD [2]. 3. Have sex frequently during your fertility window.  If you have sex every day during your fertile period, you have a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant, according to Dr. Allen Wilcox [3].  If you have sex every other day, your chances are 22 percent [4].  If you have sex once per week, your chances of getting pregnant are only 10 percent [5]. 4. If you have sex after you ovulate, you aren't likely to get pregnant, says WebMD [6] . Studies show that couples who got pregnant had sex on the day of ovulation or the five days before ovulation [7]. (Don't let that stop you from having fun!) 5. Don't save sex only for the days that you're fertile. Use it or lose it About.com recommends having sex frequently throughout the week in order to help you catch your most fertile period[8]. 6. Men should ejaculate at least once per day - even if it is a solo exercise. An Australian study found that men who ejaculated daily had less DNA-damaged sperm, because it is fresher and less damaged [9]. 7. Don't douche after sex, Dr. Moore says [10]. You'll get rid of the cervical fluid that the sperm need to help them on their journey to your womb [11]. Step 4: Be Patient o Even if you have sex at exactly the right time, Dr. Brian D. Cowan says you only have a one in five chance of becoming pregnant [1]. If you don't get pregnant the very first time you try, it's not a sign of disaster! The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends you try for the following amount of time before seeing a fertility specialist: 1. If you are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, see your doctor [2]. 2. If you are 35 or over and have been trying to get pregnant for six months without success, see your doctor [3]. 3. If you or your partner have anything in your history that indicates you may have problems with fertility, see your doctor [4]. Step 5: When all else fails, see a doctor o If you've been trying for a year (six months if you're 35 or over) without success, it's time to see a doctor. 1. Bring your fertility charts with you when you see your doctor. With the information in them, the doctor may be able to tell if the woman is ovulating, and may be able to determine if she has a short luteal phase. 2. The doctor may test the man's sperm to determine if he has a low sperm count or if his sperm does not have the power to penetrate the ovum, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [1].

3. The Mayo Clinic says the man may also undergo an ultrasound of his scrotum and rectal area [2]. 4. WebMD says a woman may have a blood test and ultrasound examinations to determine if she is ovulating [3]. 5. A woman may have a hysterosalpingography, which is an X-ray of the uterus after the injection of fluid to determine if the fallopian tubes are blocked [4]. 6. You may have blood or urine tests to determine that your hormone levels are normal, WebMD says [5]. 7. A woman might undergo ovarian reserve testing to determine if she has enough healthy ovum to easily achieve pregnancy [6]. 8. Genetic testing can determine if there are any genetic obstacles to fertility, says Revolution Health [7]. Fertility Health Tips for Men o The male's role in successful conception is to have abundant, healthy sperm that can successfully reach, penetrate and fertilize the female's egg. [1]. 1. Keep Cool: According to the Mayo Clinic, high temperatures can lower sperm production, making conception more difficult. Keep your scrotal temperature down by wearing loose underwear, such as boxers, and avoiding long baths, saunas and prolonged sitting.[2]. 2. Take Vitamins: WebMD advises that men take vitamins such as E, C and zinc, which increase the health and mobility of your sperm. [3] 3. Stop Smoking: According to Dr. Frederick Licciardi, men who smoke have lower sperm counts [4].  Bear in mind that your smoking can decrease your partner's fertility: even secondhand smoke can make it more difficult for women to conceive, says a study in the journal Human Reproduction [5]. 4. Exercise Moderately: A reasonable amount of exercise enhances your physical and reproductive health. But don't overdo it. According to WebMD, excessive exercise reduces the amount of testosterone in your body and, consequently, lowers your sperm count.[6] 5. Stop Recreational Drug Use: WebMD advises discontinuing the use of substances such as alcohol and recreational drugs (including marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines), which can compromise the quality and quantity of your sperm. Some substances also lessen the male's sex drive. [7] 6. Avoid Toxins: Clear your work and living places of hazardous materials such as heavy metals, pesticides and chemical solvents that, the Mayo Clinic warns, can adversely affect the health of your sperm. [8]. 7. Reverse Your Vasectomy: If you've had a vasectomy, you will need to have a vasectomy reversal. According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes a few months for the sperm to reappear in the semen after surgery and vasectomy reversal leads to successful conception in 52% of men over the course of two years. [9] Fertility Health Tips for Women 0. Discontinue Birth Control: You must discontinue all birth control if you are trying to have a baby [1].  If you have an IUD, get it removed.

If you are on the pill, stop taking it at the end of the current cycle. Dr. Judith Reichman says your chances of getting pregnant after discontinuing the Pill are about the same as that of someone who has never taken it [2].  If you are on Depo-Provera, the American Academy of Family Physicians says it will take about nine or ten months after discontinuing shots to get pregnant [3]. 1. Stop Smoking: According to Dr. Frederick Licciardi, women who smoke find it harder to conceive. [4]. 2. Reduce Stress: Dr. Alice Domar says that reducing stress will increase your chances of conception [5]. 3. Manage Weight: If you are underweight or overweight, try to bring your weight to a level that is more appropriate for your body [6]. According to a study at the University of South Carolina at Charleston, the majority of overweight and underweight women with fertility problems were able to achieve pregnancy once they reached their ideal weight [7].

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