The journey to parenthood is different for each and every couple. For some, it can feel like setting sail on choppy, uncharted waters, while for others, it’s smooth sailing and a relatively quick process.
If you’re in the TTC (Trying to Conceive) boat, you’re likely brimming with questions, such as “When’s the best time to have sex to become pregnant?” and “How can I boost my fertility?”
In this article, we’ll cover tried-and-true tips that can help increase your chances of getting pregnant and sustaining a healthy pregnancy, including tracking your menstrual cycle, timing sex properly, and cleaning up your diet, exercise habits, and lifestyle.
What Does TTC Mean?
TTC is the acronym for “Trying to Conceive”, which describes couples who are actively attempting to get pregnant.
If you’re looking for support while TTC, chances are you’re planning a pregnancy and doing your best to make sure your body, mind, and lifestyle are all in tip-top shape before you become a parent. The great thing about intentionally TTC is that it allows you to get your health on track during this critical period when you’re preparing to bring another human into the world!
How long are most couples TTC before they get pregnant?
Based on available research, about 85% of couples will become pregnant within about one year of having regular, unprotected sex. On the other hand, this means that at least 15% will require more patience and potentially require help from medical professionals in order to treat infertility.
There’s no denying that age is a factor in determining and boosting your fertility. Unfortunately, fertility naturally declines as couples get older, especially for women in their upper 30s and 40s. It’s generally advised that couples seek the help of a fertility specialist if they have not become pregnant after a year of trying (or after six months if the woman is over the age of 35).
How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Pregnant? First, Work on Timing Sex Properly
If you and your partner are hoping to have a bun in the oven soon, timing is everything!
Simply put, regular, timed intercourse is the best way to get pregnant. This makes sense—considering that even if both partners are very fertile, sex needs to happen at the right time for conception to occur! In fact, there are only about six days at most each month (and really, only about four that are likely) where a woman is fertile and conception can occur.
Having sex during the “fertile window” is the number one way to increase your chances of getting pregnant. This doesn’t mean turning lovemaking into a robotic task—as we want to keep the romance alive. However, if you’re a woman, it does mean learning about your menstrual cycle and pinpointing when you’re ovulating.
Here’s what you need to know about timing intercourse to get pregnant:
Understand Your Fertility Window:
The most fertile time within a woman’s menstrual cycle is usually the day of ovulation and the three to four days leading up to it. Learning natural methods to identify these peak fertility days, such as tracking basal body temperature or looking for cervical mucus changes, is very helpful while TTC.
Ovulation occurs at a different time for each woman and can change from month to month, however, the average range for ovulation is between days 14 and 18 of the menstrual cycle (that said, it could be as early or late as day 10 or 22). Keep a menstrual diary or use an app to become more in tune with your own unique cycle. Considering all that your cycle can reveal, you won’t regret it!
Have Sex When You’re Ovulating:
The best way to successfully become pregnant is to have sex before and during ovulation, which is like casting a wide net to catch the big fish. Sperm can live in a woman’s body for as long as five days after sex, while an egg can survive for about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. Knowing these stats, you want to be sure to have sex before ovulation and on the exact day of ovulation.
You can try using ovulation prediction kits for precise monitoring of your fertile window or keep a digital or written record of your menstrual cycle patterns.
Keep in mind that if you take your basal body temp each morning, an increase in your temp will reveal that you’ve already ovulated in the 24 hours prior, which likely means it’s too late to become pregnant that cycle. Your aim is to have sex before and during ovulation for the best results, which means you need to predict ovulation.
Boost the Frequency of Intercourse:
Organizations, including The American Pregnancy Association, recommend having sex every other day around the time of ovulation to increase the chances of conception. This strategy ensures a steady supply of sperm for the awaiting egg, but it also takes into account the fact that more sex than this might become exhausting and stressful.
Choose Sperm-Friendly Lubricants:
Some lubricants can hinder sperm motility, so it’s best to avoid these types of lubricants and choose those that are specifically designed to be sperm-friendly instead. Read product descriptions when purchasing lubricants and look for those that mention being “fertility-friendly or “sperm friendly.” Be sure to choose natural and gentle lubes, which are free of parabens and fragrances to avoid irritation.
Stay Put Post-Sex:
While there’s no definitive “best position” for conception, gravity can be your ally. Lying down for about 15 minutes after sex can help keep the sperm headed in the right direction and keep sperm closer to the egg. Some women take this a step further and lay down with their legs elevated to allow gravity to help out, although it’s not entirely known if this makes a big difference.
Tips for Trying to Conceive for Men, Women, and Couples
TTC Tips for Women:
- Understand Your Menstrual Cycle: When it comes to boosting your fertility, knowledge is power in the TTC game! Your menstrual cycle is like a window into your reproductive health, as well as your general well-being. Understanding your cycle helps you pinpoint when you’re most fertile, particularly when you’re ovulating, so you know when to have sex in order to get pregnant; plus cycle tracking can clue you in on whether you might have an issue such as PCOS or lack of ovulation. Bottom line: knowing your body’s own patterns is absolutely key when TTC!
- Track Ovulation: Ovulation is when an egg is released from an ovary, which needs to happen in order for you to conceive. In other words, the ovulation phase (which only lasts for a few days each cycle) is prime time for conception. There are several ways to track ovulation, from calendar charting to using ovulation predictor kits. Whichever method you use, it’s essential for determining the best dates for the sperm and egg to meet.
- Strike a Balance With Your Weight: Being underweight or overweight can both negatively affect your chances of getting pregnant. Aim for a healthy BMI of about 19 to 24 to keep your fertility in check. This might require gaining or losing some weight depending on your starting weight and lifestyle.
- A Prenatal Vitamin and Folic Acid Are Your Friends: Start taking a prenatal vitamin, one that includes folate, which is crucial for preventing congenital disabilities and supportive of your overall health. Aim for at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folate (which is preferable over folic acid) each day while TTC and for at least the first three months of pregnancy. Get into the habit of doing this now, and you’ll be one step ahead when you become pregnant.
TTC Tips for Men:
- Keep It Cool Down There: Sperm aren’t fans of heat, considering that lots of heat can potentially disrupt male fertility factors, including sperm count and quality. Men should avoid hot baths and tight clothing and be careful about putting too much pressure or heat on their groin area (such as from cycling or other types of exercises).
- Consider Supplements: Certain supplements can help naturally boost fertility by supporting sperm health. For men, zinc and selenium supplements are great for this purpose.
- Know Your Health Status: While many women in their “reproductive years” visit their healthcare providers for annual checkups related to their fertility or periods, men often don’t. This means that if a man does have an underlying fertility issue, he likely won’t be aware of it until it’s game time. Men should consider getting a preconception checkup, which can include a sperm analysis to help identify any underlying health issues that could affect their chances of conceiving.
Healthy TTC Habits for Both Partners
When TTC, both partners should focus on a healthy lifestyle—yes, including the males! This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. Think of these lifestyle changes as prepping both partners’ bodies and minds for what’s to come (pregnancy and parenthood), which requires a lot of energy.
Here are more details on what both partners can do when TTC in order to tip the odds in their favor:
- Eat a Nutrient-Dense, Balanced Diet: Fertility experts emphasize the significance of a balanced diet that’s rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. This approach includes a focus on iron, calcium, folate, and other essential nutrients, especially from a variety of plant foods, which both men and women need when TTC and working on improving their reproductive health.
- Get a Handle on Stress: Stress can be a buzzkill for fertility, considering it messes with sex hormones, can disrupt women’s menstrual cycles, and often decreases libido. To keep stress in check, engage in relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or whatever chills you out. Think of stress-busting habits like creating a zen garden for your reproductive system.
- Check on Your Medications: Some medications, such as testosterone or hormone replacement treatments, anabolic steroids, narcotic painkillers, and SSRIs, can potentially negatively affect fertility. Therefore, if you take any meds regularly, chat with your doctor about potential side effects they may cause and alternatives to take instead.
- Avoiding Smoking and Other Harmful Substances: Parents-to-be should definitely avoid smoking, using illicit drugs, and consuming excessive alcohol, as they can significantly impact fertility. Limit your caffeine intake to about a cup a day if possible and decrease alcohol to about one drink per day tops. Overall, treat your body like you’re already pregnant or like a new parent (who needs lots of rest, water, and healthy food!).
- Manage Underlying Health Conditions: Stay on top of your health with regular check-ups. Suppose a couple is dealing with existing conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease. In that case, these should be addressed right away to avoid complications with fertility or pregnancy. To prevent delays when TTC, men and women seek help from a fertility specialist early on in their journeys if they have any known issues that could potentially be serious, including signs of menstrual irregularities, heavy periods, or testicular issues.
- Limit Exposure to Toxins: Environmental toxins such as pesticides, lead, heavy metals, and other “endocrine disruptors” found in things like household products and cosmetics can interfere with hormone production and reproductive health. You can take steps to reduce your exposure to these environmental toxins by eating mostly organic foods, upgrading your cookware to those made with safe materials, drinking filtered water, and choosing natural personal and household products that are free of suspicious chemicals.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential for healthy circulation, cervical fluid production, and sperm production, so drink up!
- Regular Physical Activity: Getting enough exercise benefits both men and women in numerous ways, including when trying to conceive, such as by keeping inflammation under control and supporting blood flow. Exercise can improve overall health, which in turn can enhance fertility, however, it’s important to note that too much intense exercise can have the opposite effect, especially in women. When TTC, moderate, regular exercise is best, such as yoga, walking, cycling, and swimming.
How Else Can a Couple Support Each Other When Trying to Conceive?
TTC can be an emotional rollercoaster, especially if this phase lasts longer than a couple would like. Because emotional and mental stress can make the process even harder and more complicated, it’s key to be each other’s cheerleaders.
- Keep the Spark Alive: Don’t let sex become a chore. Keep the romance and spontaneity alive, such as by planning fun dates, taking day trips together, or doing other activities that keep your bond strong and your outlook positive.
- Educate Yourself: The more you know about fertility and conception, the better prepared you’ll be for whatever comes your way. Read up on any health issues you’re dealing with, seek help from a reputable specialist, and talk to others who have gone through the TTC process and come out on the other side.
- Stay Positive: An optimistic and hopeful mindset can work wonders for keeping you calm and avoiding too much stress. Remember, it’s about the journey as much as the destination. Focus on all the positive things going on in your lives right now even while you’re TTC, which may wind up being the same things you miss once you become parents!
Wrapping It Up
Remember, every couple’s path to conception is unique. While these tips can increase your chances of becoming pregnant quickly, knowledge, patience, and persistence are often your best allies. And if things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a fertility specialist. Here’s to making your baby dreams come true! 🍼👶✨