You want to get pregnant. You know the basics. You try but it doesn’t work. You try again. It still doesn’t work. The test result is negative. Again. What to do? This is a very common situation and for which we get a lot of questions. Of course, there is no technique, treatment, or activity that works for everybody. But there are some tips that can increase your odds of becoming pregnant.
1. Schedule a preconception checkup with a doctor, nurse, or midwife
During this visit, your health care provider will ask you a lot of questions about your health and lifestyle because they can, and probably will, influence your chances of getting pregnant. Do you have any past or present medical conditions that may affect your ability to get pregnant? Are your menstrual periods regular? Do you smoke? How is your weight? Have you had any miscarriages or full term pregnancies? Are you using any medications? At this time you may get a complete gynecological exam, blood tests, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, tests for rubella immunity and possibly some genetic tests, based on your family history. Make sure you ask your health care provider all the questions you have. Do not be shy or embarrassed.
2. Be as healthy as you can be
Now it is the time to be careful with you eat and what you get exposed to. Eat nutritious foods, maintain a healthy weight, get regular exercise, and try to kick any bad habits such as drinking, smoking, or using drugs. Make sure your oral health is good as well, given that late miscarriage has been linked to maternal periodontal (gum) disease.
Begin taking folic acid (400 micrograms per day) at least one month before you start trying to conceive. You can buy prenatal folic acid supplement at any pharmacy.
3. Get off birth control in advance
If you are using the pill, your fertility should return almost immediately after you discontinue it. If you have an intrauterine device (IUD), your fertility should return right away once you have the device removed by a health care professional. You should stop getting Depo-Provera, injectable shots of progesterone about nine months before you want to try getting pregnant.
4. Know your timing of ovulation
You ovulate only once each menstrual cycle, and there are just a few days during that time when it’s possible to conceive. Knowing when you ovulate means that you and your partner can time intercourse to have the best chance of getting pregnant during that cycle. There are many ovulation calculators online and free mobile apps available. Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning immediately upon waking can also be helpful. Your temperature usually drops subtly the day you ovulate; then it rises the following day and stays elevated until you get your period (or throughout your pregnancy, should you conceive that month). Also, just before ovulation, you might notice an increase in clear, slippery vaginal secretions that resemble raw egg whites. After ovulation, when the odds of becoming pregnant are slim, the discharge will become cloudy and thick or disappear entirely.
If your menstrual period is irregular, it may be difficult to know when ovulation happens. Talk to your health care provider about this.
5. Have sexual activity during your most fertile days
The best time is usually about three days before ovulation through the day you ovulate. If you do not know when those days are or if your periods are irregular, have sexual activity every other day from the day after your period finishes until the next period occurs (you can have it more frequently, of course, but that will not increase your chances of becoming pregnant).
6. Don’t use vaginal lubricants
Various over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can decrease fertility. Saliva can have the same effect. If you need a lubricant, consider mineral oil or canola oil — or ask your health care provider for other suggestions.
7. Make sure your partner has a healthy lifestyle
The use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and certain medications can affect sperm quality and make it more difficult for you to get pregnant. Because sperm take about 75 days to generate, your partner should follow a healthy lifestyle at least three months before you begin trying to conceive.
8. Seek help from a fertility specialist
For women younger than 35, the general rule is that if you’re not pregnant within a year, you should seek medical advice. For women 35 and over, speak with your healthcare provider if you’re not pregnant within 6 months.