You’ve had the chat, abandoned the birth control and are ready to start trying to conceive. But your body doesn't always act fast, so make sure your clued in on how to prepare and stay healthy in the meantime. Before you leave everything in the hands of fate, here's some useful advice on how to maximise your chances of getting pregnant.
How to plan for pregnancy
To really boost your chances of a speedy conception, think about your lifestyle. Consider:
- Giving up smoking
- Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, or stopping altogether. Alcoholic drinks can affect not just your fertility, but your partner’s too.
- Reducing your caffeine intake, as this can also slow down conception. Switch to herbal teas for the time being.
- Take a folic acid supplement (400 micrograms a day until 12 weeks pregnant), or a prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid, which is essential for healthy foetal development.
How long does it take to get pregnant?
Most of the time, a healthy couple having frequent, unprotected sex, will become pregnant within a year. A study by the Mayo Clinic showed that 38% fell pregnant after one month, but that rose to nearly 70% after three months, 81% after six months and 92% after 12 months.
So, for those of you in your early thirties or younger, it is usual and healthy to try for a year before any success. This is because technically, you only have a 1 in 5 chance of conceiving every month, so luck plays a big part in how long the process will take, even if you're monitoring your ovulation cycle closely. If you're over 35 and aren't pregnant after 6 months of trying, it might be worth visiting your doctor and looking into fertility treatment options.
How to align your pregnancy plan with your ovulation cycle
Women are only fertile for a few days each month, so knowing you are having sex at the right time will definitely improve your chances.
Have you tried our ovulation calculator? Just put in the first day of your last period and the length of your cycle and it’ll show you the optimum days to try and conceive every month. It's also worth buying an over-the-counter Ovulation Test Kit, so you can keep track of your fertility window and boost your chances.
Sex tips to maximise concieving
- Don't use lube, as though it might be more comfortable, some lubricants are not sperm-friendly and could cause the sperm to die before reaching the egg.
- Don't do anything to actively raise your body temperature after sex. For example, strenuous excercise or having a hot bath. Sperm start to lose their motility and viability, the higher the temperature of their environment.
- Our definitive guide to The Best Sex Positions For Getting Pregnant
Have you taken any steps toward a healthy pregnancy?
Your weight can not only play a role in how quickly you become pregnant, because it can affect the frequency of ovulation, it can also affect your health during pregnancy.
Work out your body mass index by putting your height and weight into an online BMI calculator. If the results show you’re over or under weight, your GP may refer you to a dietician or recommend an exercise programme to help you reach your ideal BMI and get your body in the best condition to conceive.
What foods are good for getting pregnant?
Diet isn’t only important for health, it can impact your fertility, too. Making sure you include certain healthy foods in your diet will ensure your body isn’t deficient in any of the key baby-making nutrients and vitamins. Here are our recommendations:
- Fortified cereals
- Beans, lentils, nuts
Spinach is a leafy green that is key for healthy egg and sperm production as it contains contains zinc. Bananas are rich in Vitamin B6, which helps regulate hormones, and eggs and fortified cereals help you get your fair share of Vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D has been associated with increased rates of infertility. Lastly, beans, lentils and nuts are known as fertility-boosting as they are full of great plant-based protein!
Take a look at fertility superfoods for lots more ideas.
When to seek medical advice
If it’s been over a year, then visit your GP. They will be able to refer you to specialists who will run a range of fertility tests to see if there’s an underlying medical reason why you’ve been struggling to conceive.
Good luck! And for lots more advice on how to get pregnant, take a look at our Pregnancy Planning section.
Read next: How to boost his sperm count naturally:
Make sure he's doing enough exerciseNow is not the time to push him to train for a marathon, but several studies on overweight or obese men have shown that sperm count increased when they lost weight.
Avoid certain medicationsIt's very important that your partner has a chat to his GP before stopping any course of medicine, but some prescription medications are known to decrease the healthy production of sperm.
These include some antibiotics, anti-androgens, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, corticosteriods, anabolic steriods, exogenous testosterone and methadone.
In most cases, once a person stops taking the drug his sperm will return to normal or increase, but it is worth checking with your GP if you have any worries.