By Elina Pfaffenbach, MD – Obstetrician/Gynecologist
What’s more natural than having a baby? Assuming you have normal cycles, take care of yourself, and don’t stress out, you should have a very good chance of getting pregnant. But not everyone is so lucky.
It is always a good idea to make an appointment with your ob/gyn for preconceptual counseling. This will give you a chance to get all your questions answered and find out if you are in excellent health before you get pregnant or if you need to make some changes.
Here are a few things you can do to maximize your chance of getting pregnant:
Tip #1 – Get Your Body Ready
Certain lifestyle factors – smoking, being obese or underweight, excessive exercise, no exercise, more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and 16 ounces of coffee per day – can decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Stress can also make it more difficult to get pregnant. A Harvard Medical School study published in 2000 established a link between lowering anxiety and improved pregnancy rates in women who had been trying to conceive for between one and two years.
Tip #2 – Figure Out When You Ovulate
If you are having normal menstrual cycles (21-35 days long), then there is usually around an 80 percent chance that you will get pregnant within the first six months of trying and about an 85 percent chance you will get pregnant within the first year of trying. The most fertile time of your cycle is the five days prior to ovulation plus the day of ovulation.
You can try to predict the time you are ovulating by tracking the changes in your cervical mucus – your production of slippery clear mucus, which peaks around ovulation time. Or you can use an ovulation predictor kit purchased at your local store. If you have very regular cycles, you can subtract 14 days from your cycle length to determine when you ovulate. If you have a 29-day cycle from the first day of your period, then you ovulate on day 15!
Tip #3 – When Is the Right Time?
You should have sex about every two to three days, starting after your period ends, to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. Sperm quality is best if there are two to three days between ejaculations.
Tip #4 – Misconceptions About Conception
Some factors that do not affect your chance of getting pregnant are positions during sex, whether you (the lady) has an orgasm, and what position you are in after ejaculation. Lubricants are also not supposed to affect your chances of getting pregnant, but it is generally a good idea to avoid them if you can!
Tip #5 – When Do You Seek Intervention?
There are any number of reasons some women don’t conceive easily: age, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and their partner’s low sperm count, to name a few.
Women in their late 30s are about 40 percent less fertile than women in their early 20s. Women over 35 years old also have increased risk of complications like miscarriage, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, some birth defects, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery.
How long you should keep trying before you seek help from a fertility specialist typically depends on your age.
- If you’re over 40, see you doctor right away.
- If you’re 35 to 40, see a fertility specialist after you’ve tried for six months without success.
- If you’re under 35, it’s probably fine to keep trying for a year before seeing your ob/gyn.