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Old Tricks to Getting Pregnant meets modern research
For most families, deciding you’re ready for a baby is like a switch flipping–once you’re ready to try to conceive, you want it to happen quickly. And while there’s nothing any of us can do to guarantee a pregnancy, there are numerous trying to conceive (TTC) tips to help us improve the chances of getting pregnant.
The very best thing you can do to increase your chance of conceiving is getting to know your body and, specifically, your menstrual cycle. Our preferred way to do this is using a fertility tracker, but there are other options, as well, such as using a ovulation tracker app, ovulation test strips, or checking your basal body temperature or cervical mucus.
Every time your period starts, you may experience feelings of disappointment, and that’s completely understandable. But if you’ve been learning about your body and logging that information, you also get to go into a new month armed with even more knowledge for the future.
As you scour Google for the best tips to conceive and want to find out what really can work and what is just an old wives tale, trust our research-and-experience-based information. We’ve taken all those old tricks to getting pregnant and done the modern research.
Here are the most important TTC tips you need to know.
*Note: This is a sponsored article on behalf of Fairhaven Health, meaning I have been compensated for this article. All the content included is my honest opinion, and this is my true story. I only work with brands and recommend products I personally use and love.
How long does it take to get pregnant?
When you decide to embark on the journey of pregnancy, the number one thing on your mind is probably: how long is this going to take?! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Once you decide to have a baby, the impatience factor takes over your brain, and you can get lost in a rabbit hole of online research (or is that just us?).
For most hopeful healthy parents, the baby-making process, on average, takes about a year of regular, unprotected sex. But this can vary greatly depending on several factors like: age, overall health, lifestyle choices, and even stress levels. If you find yourself at the one year mark of trying to conceive, you should talk to your doctor about seeing a fertility specialist.
What are the chances of getting pregnant?
The million dollar question concerning pregnancy is usually: what are my odds of conceiving? Well, these ballpark figures vary from person to person, but there are a few averages you can rely on. For healthy, fertile couples who have regular, unprotected sex, the changes of conceiving each month are approximately 20%. This means that if you throw caution to the wind and let nature take its course, you have a decent shot of a positive pregnancy test within one year.
Within the one year average, the break down looks like this:
- Within the first three months of trying, about 60% of hopeful parents will conceive.
- By the six-month mark, that number rises to 80%.
- 85% of hopeful parents conceive within the one year mark.
- If a year goes by without any success, it’s a good idea to consult with your OB-GYN and/or reproductive endocrinologist for a basic fertility screening.
Proven Trying To Conceive Tips For Getting Pregnant
While there are no guarantees in the world of baby making, there are many things you can do that have been proven to help increase your chances of success.
Here are our top trying to conceive tips!
If a woman is aware of her menstrual cycle and upcoming ovulation, she can plan to have sex regularly in the days leading up to its occurrence. This can increase her chances of getting pregnant each month.
For this reason, ovulation tracking is one of our favorite ttc tips for hopeful parents.
There are plenty of ways to track ovulation, but the most reliable is using a trustworthy fertility monitor. The one I used is no longer on the market (and I’m devastated because it taught my so much about my cycle!)
I, for instance, learned that I have 2 LH surges during most cycles, yet I only ovulate after the second. So ovulation test strips didn’t work for me–they said I was about to ovulate, but I didn’t. And then I missed my fertility window.
In our book, a good fertility monitor is one of the best ways to track ovulation, but if you’re looking to start smaller or spend less, you still have plenty of options!
2. Monitor Ovulation on a Calendar
But for quick reference, these are your options:
- Basal body temperature testing & tracking
- Using a ovulation prediction test strips
- Tracking cervical mucus
Keep a calendar-style log of what you learn about your body. Within a few months, you’ll likely be able to predict ovulation on your own.
3. Have sex every (other) day around the time of ovulation
You might be wondering why having sex has made it onto our list of trying to conceive tips – after all, most of us have figured out the birds and the bees by the time we’re ready to start a family.
This ttc tip isn’t just about having sex, though. It’s also about how much you should be doing it.
If you’re trying to conceive the old fashioned way, we recommend having sex outside of your ovulation window too! This can help keep it fun, and it’s smart in case you’re wrong about when you ovulate that month. If you’re inseminating, this isn’t necessary!
But having sex regularly during your ovulation window is key.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The highest pregnancy rates occur in couples who have sex every day or every other day.”
More Tips on Getting Pregnant
4. Manage Your Stress
For any woman who has struggled to get pregnant, two words can easily become the bane of her existence:
Let me begin by stating that this is the WORST of all trying to conceive tips you can offer someone, so I want to be very clear about what we mean when we talk about stress management.
Under no circumstances is it ever okay to make a woman feel like her struggles with fertility are linked exclusively to her inability to just “calm down and relax.“ There’s close to a 0% chance that you’re (in)ability to relax alone is the determining factor in your fertility.
I work with thousands of TTC woman and woman going through fertility treatments, and none have cured fertility struggles simply by settling into a bubble bath.
That said, there are many reasons doctors often recommend stress management as one of the many tools you can use to increase your chances of conception.
According to researchers, when a woman is in a stressed or anxious state, her body will produce increased levels of an enzyme known as alpha-amylase.
Studies have shown that women with high concentrations of this enzyme in their system can have a 12% higher chance of struggling to get pregnant.
So while “just relaxing” is probably not the cure many “helpful” people seem to think it will be, there are certainly benefits to managing your stress levels better.
Why not set aside some time for self-love every day? There are many options to choose from, including:
- taking a walk,
- spending time with a friend,
- or simply resting.
Whether it helps you conceive or not, caring for your mental state is a crucial part of being the best version of yourself you can be.
5. Get Regular Exercise
Where helpful TTC tips are concerned, developing a regular exercise routine can actually go hand-in-hand with stress management.
Physical activity is an essential component in handling our stress and anxiety.
Stress relief, however, isn’t the only positive effect that exercise can have on fertility. A critical factor in a woman’s ability to get pregnant easily can often be her weight.
Like stress, weight alone is almost never the deciding factor in infertility, but it does play a role in the much larger picture.
Studies have shown that the right amount of body fat can impact fertility. According to research, women who are either overweight or underweight women can have difficulty conceiving due to hormonal imbalances and irregular periods or ovulation cycles.
(Please note that, if you experience irregular or painful cycles, you need to discuss this with your doctor. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can cause irregular and painful periods, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, because many women with PCOS are insulin resistant, it can also cause weight gain.
To ensure you’re at the healthiest weight possible, it’s often suggested that your body mass index (BMI) should fall between the range of 19-24. But keep in mind that there are various reasons yours might be higher or lower that are out of your control. So please, talk to your doctor.
Also keep in mind that these numbers are just an estimate, however. Every woman’s body is different. BMI should be regarded as a suggestion.
The best way to determine a healthy weight for your body is through regular physicals with your primary care physician.
If your doctor approves exercise, we highly recommend exercising while trying to conceive. It helps keep your body healthier, and it helps regulate hormones, which we definitely care about when TTC (and all the time, right?)
If you are overweight, it can also help you reach a healthy BMI, while if you are underweight, adding strength training exercises to your personal list of TTC tips can help build necessary muscle to help you meet your weight gain goals.
6. Eat Fertility Boosting Foods
While there may not be a magical pill or diet that can guarantee a pregnancy, many foods have proven themselves beneficial to fertility.
Eating better, in general, is an excellent place to start in terms of a “fertility-friendly diet,” but if you’d like more specific options, the following food items frequently pop up on lists of ‘trying to conceive tips.’
- Healthy fats, e.g., eggs, nuts, and avocados
- Full-fat dairy products, e.g., yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and milk
- Lentils and black beans
- Spinach and kale
Each of these items comes with a variety of different beneficial factors, but many are loaded with fertility-rich nutrients like Omega-3 fats, vitamin A, protein, folate, and choline.
They will work to improve hormonal imbalances and provide better embryo health upon conception.
7. Take a Prenatal Vitamin
In addition to eating fertility-friendly foods, many fertility specialists also encourage hopeful parents to begin taking prenatal vitamins while they’re trying to get pregnant. These vitamins provide a well-rounded regimen of nutrients that are ideal during conception and pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends folic acid supplementation pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida.
Because nearly 50% of people have at least MTHFR gene mutation that may prevent them from processing folic acid properly, many families are choosing to take prenatal vitamins with L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate instead of folic acid. We’ll leave this choice to you and your doctor, but will say there has not yet been much research into whether 5-methyltetrahydrofolate produces the same benefit as folic acid in terms of neural tube defect prevention.
If you want a prenatal with L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, we love the daily vitamin packs from Natalist, but provide a word of caution that they do cause fish burps, so they may not be friendly during a nauseous first trimester. (Their D3 gummies, on the other hand, are a delightful treat!)
If you want a prenatal gummy with folic acid, we love the gummies from Nature’s Nutritions.
8. Use Lube for Pregnancy
You heard me. There is special lubricant that you can use when trying to conceive, and yes, it can really make a difference. This is a TTC tip that many people don’t know about!
If you’ve been on the TTC train for long, you’ve probably already discovered one frustrating fact–when you’re actively trying to conceive, sex can become more of a chore than we’d like it to be.
Knowing that you have a short ovulation window and trying to be sure you’re sexually active on the right days can be stressful.
Our bodies are naturally equipped to help us conceive, so cervical mucus becomes friendlier for sperm around the time of ovulation.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, as you approach ovulation, you begin to produce “fertile-quality cervical mucus, also known as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM),” which “is the perfect protective medium for sperm in terms of texture and pH.”
But if we need extra lubricant because sex is less exciting, or if we need to supplement our cervical mucus so sperm has plenty of fluid in which to swim, then the lube you choose matters. A lot.
Many lubricants, as well as saliva, can throw off that healthy pH balance, leading to a less sperm-friendly environment during sex.
“This product features a pH and consistency that is similar to egg white cervical mucus and can be used during intercourse to help as many sperms as possible survive the journey through your reproductive tract.”American Pregnancy Association
In addition to being isotonic and pH matched to mimic your own cervical mucus, BabyDance Fertility Lubricant is healthy for your reproductive body in more ways than helping sperm motility.
It’s made in the US using the most up-to-date science, is fragrance-free, and uses no parabens (a common preservative that can mimic the hormone estrogen and potentially impact fertility.)
9. Learn How to Help Implantation
No list of TTC tips would be complete without discussing embryo implantation.
There are tons of myths out there about ways to help implantation, but we don’t want you wasting your time facing north with your legs in the air while trying to conceive and avoiding bumpy roads.
But there are some ways to help implantation that have scientific backing. Here are a few:
- Eat lots of leafy greens
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Take generally good care of your health
10. Seek Help If Needed
Asking for help is such an interesting issue. It’s easy to want to seek help after just a month or two of negative tests, yet when it’s been a while and we may need another opinion, many of us avoid seeing a doctor.
But knowing when to ask for help is key, as is advocating to receive it. The general rule is that you seek help after a year of actively trying if you’re under age 35; and after 6 months if you’re over age 35. Learn more about fertility by age
There are other reasons, however, to talk to your care provider, and if need be, you can use some of these reasons to push for further testing. Issues you might want to look further into include the following:
- Inconsistent or irregular periods
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Heavy cramping or bleeding during period
- Long cycles (more than ~35 days between periods)
- Painful ovulation
- Pain during intercourse
- Inability to lose or gain weight
Combinations of these symptoms may warrant testing for issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, thyroid problems, and more. Also be sure to talk to your doctor if you have a history of blood clots.
For US families, if you have insurance but your company won’t pay, ask your doctor if there is a way to code tests so that they aren’t fertility-related. There are often workarounds to get coverage.
If your doctor isn’t willing to test but you feel testing is needed, we recommend Modern Fertility.
If you’ve had fertility testing done at your doctor’s office, you won’t learn anything new from Modern Fertility. But if you want an overview of your fertility and a reason to push your doctor if there’s a problem, this at-home test can give you some of the answers you seek.
Modern Fertility’s testing kit tests the hormone levels that matter most for fertility. Follow the instructions and mail off for results that are interpreted by medical professionals for your easier understanding. You’ll get insider knowledge into the hormones that give us insight into your ovarian reserve (AMH & FSH), thyroid function (TSH & fT4), support ovulation (prolactin & LH), & Estradiol (gives insight into other hormone levels.)
Talk to your doctor for more Tips to Conceive
It’s not uncommon for pride to interfere with our ability to get pregnant.
For a healthy couple, statistics show that pregnancy should typically occur within the first year of trying.
While it might be difficult to accept that you need outside help to conceive, there is no shame in asking for it. If you’ve passed your one year mark, it might be time to seek out help from your doctor.
They’ll run basic tests to check your ovarian reserve (how many eggs do you have?); make sure your fallopian tubes aren’t blocked; verify you have appropriate hormone levels, and more! They can also look into male factors for infertility like low sperm count and/or mobility.
Speaking with your doctor does not automatically mean you require assisted reproductive technology (ART) to have a baby. There may be simple trying to conceive solutions that might increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If, however, your fertility issues are more complex, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.
The older we get, the more challenging it is to conceive without medical intervention, which is why so many of us worry about fertility by age. By staying on top of your fertility, you’ll have a better chance of having a baby without additional difficulties.
Worried you might have fertility issues but your doctor isn’t ready to test yet?
You can take matters into your own hands using Modern Fertility’s at-home fertility test, which will give you results that let you know if you have major cause for concern.
If you do, you can take those results to your doctor to advocate for faster treatment!
Which TTC Tips are right for you?
When you’re searching for helpful tips to conceive, any of these suggestions can be helpful, and we recommend doing many at once.
By combining methods of ovulation tracking with other TTC tips, such as regular exercise, healthy diets, and stress management, you can increase your chances of conceiving without additional medical interventions. Nothing is guaranteed, but it feels good to know you’ve done what you can.
Have you used any of these trying to conceive tips during your journey to get pregnant? Are there other TTC tips you’re curious about?
Proven Tips to Get Pregnant FAQs
There are many things you can do to improve your chances of conceiving, but the most important is learning about your cycle, knowing when you ovulate, and having sex during your ovulation window.
Sperm can remain alive in the female body for up to 5 days, but the closer you are to ovulation day when you have sex, the better your chances of conception that month. Eggs do not live long, so it’s important to inseminate before ovulation.
While nothing is guaranteed, you can best improve your chances by learning when you ovulate, having sex regularly in the 5 days leading up to ovulation, and using fertility lubricant to help foster sperm motility.
Most people don’t need to make major lifestyle changes when ttc, but there are some small changes that can help improve fertility naturally. Eating a healthy diet cutting down on caffeine and alcohol can be useful. And if you’re a smoker, now is the time to stop.
The best time to get pregnant is the three days leading up to and including ovulation, which happens about 12-14 days before your next period starts. There are many easy ways to track and predict ovulation, including period trackers and tracking your basal body temperature.
After giving birth, you can get pregnant again in as little as three weeks even if you’re breastfeeding and your period hasn’t started again. Most experts suggest waiting a year to 18 months before getting pregnant again.
What other TTC tips have you tried? Have you had success with ovulation tracking?
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Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and 2 children (Jack & Branham). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Love What Matters & more.