Whether you’re just starting to think about trying to conceive or you’ve been working on making a baby for a while, these tips just might help you get pregnant faster.
If you’ve got a bad case of baby fever, chances are you’ll try just about anything that could help you fast-track conception. But before you start chanting baby-making mantras or standing on your head, there are plenty of other things you and your partner can try to get pregnant faster — and some of them are surprisingly simple. Just remember, no single strategy can guarantee success, but these ten tips can go a long way toward putting a bun in your oven.
Say bye-bye to birth control sooner rather than later.
If you use the pill, patch or shot — or another form of hormonal contraceptives — the sooner you stop, the faster your cycle can return to its natural groove. Hormonal contraceptives usually contain a combo of estrogen and progesterone, which keeps you from getting pregnant by suppressing ovulation or preventing implantation. That’s why it can take a few months after going off birth control for your hormones to get up to speed again and for your period to come regularly. Talk to your practitioner about the best time to get off your birth control: Generally, three months is the preferred time for women using the pill or patch, but it can take up to nine months (or longer) for your reproductive system to bounce back if you use the Depo-Provera injection.
Check in for a checkup.
It’s a good idea to book an appointment with your practitioner (or midwife) to get some help with your make-a-baby to-do list, like ditching meds that aren’t baby-friendly and making sure your body (and your partner’s) is in its best baby-making shape. A head-to-toe exam can screen for chronic conditions that might interfere with conception, such as thyroid disorders or ovarian cysts, and identify any fertility issues. Once you get the word that all systems are go, you can get down to business — getting pregnant.
Work out wisely.
Study after study shows that being fit can make you more fertile. Not only does exercise help you shed unwanted pounds (excess weight can be a fertility buster), it also lowers blood pressure, reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases blood flow to reproductive organs — all necessary for conception. But don’t overdo it. Other research shows that super-vigorous workouts can derail your pregnancy plans, especially if your weight is already where it should be, even though it can help overweight or obese women get pregnant faster. Why the discrepancy? Fast-paced aerobics like running or cycling can mess with your menstrual cycles — and even temporarily stop ovulation — but can also reverse the harmful effects of being overweight. To find a balance between working out too hard and not hard enough, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, you can always try low-impact exercise like walking.
Choose the best fats — and help your partner do the same.
What you eat matters if you want to get pregnant faster. After all, healthy foods not only fuel fertility but also build a healthier baby. But did you know that when it comes to getting pregnant faster, reaching for the right stuff is important for your partner too? Healthy fats like omega-3s can boost his sperm count and motility, while saturated fats (the kind found in chips and fast foods) can sabotage sperm size and shape, making them less hardy, according to one study. So encourage your hubby to lay off the burgers and dig into some salmon, sardines, leafy greens and walnuts to keep his swimmers in tip-top shape.
Don’t forget these other sperm-boosting foods.
Add these fertility foods to your man’s menu:
- Oysters. We’re not sure if oysters are an aphrodisiac, but we do know that their zinc content pumps up the production of sperm and testosterone. If your partner’s not a fan, he can get his share of zinc from lean beef, poultry, dairy, nuts or eggs, though oysters have the highest concentration of this baby-making nutrient.
- Fruits and veggies. Produce is rich in the vitamins that can help protect your guy’s sperm from cellular damage. He can get folate from leafy greens — men who don’t get enough of this B vitamin tend to have sperm with abnormal chromosomes. Give him plenty of citrus fruits, tomatoes and berries for vitamin C (which can boost sperm quality) and carrots, red peppers and apricots for vitamin A (which keeps sperm from getting sluggish). Or serve sweet potatoes, which are rich in all three — folate, A and C!
- Honey and pomegranate juice. Honey contains boron, a mineral that may increase testosterone, and pomegranate juice may up sperm count and quality.
Take a prenatal vitamin.
A prenatal vitamin is good insurance for you and your future baby. Studies show downing a daily supplement can lower your risk of giving birth prematurely and even stave off morning sickness. But that’s not all a prenatal can do. A recent study found that women undergoing fertility treatments who were taking prenatal multivitamins were twice as likely to get pregnant as women who were undergoing the same treatments but taking only folic acid. While this finding isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get pregnant faster, popping a prenatal once a day is always a smart move when you’re TTC (or a mama-to-be).
Boost your dairy and iron intake.
Besides eating right and taking prenatal vitamins, try to fit in one serving of full-fat dairy a day as part of your plan to get more calcium. Research shows that one serving of whole milk or cheese — or yes, even a scoop of full-fat ice cream — can lower your chances of ovulatory infertility (the inability to produce healthy eggs). Also aim for two servings a day of iron-rich foods like leafy greens, beans and lean meats since some research shows that anemic women can have irregular cycles.
Cut down your caffeine intake…and cut out other vices.
There’s a whole host of studies showing that too much caffeine and alcohol can derail your campaign to conceive. So if you really want to get pregnant soon, limit your caffeine intake to about 200 mg per day — which is the equivalent of about two cups of coffee. (If you’re undergoing fertility treatments, your doc may lower that limit even more.) But cut out alcohol altogether and tell your partner to decrease his drinking too — it can do a number on your fertility and his. And though it probably goes without saying, nix nicotine now if you haven’t already; it can cause major cell damage to your eggs and increase the chances of miscarriage once you do get pregnant.
Skip the lubricant.
If you’re trying to get pregnant faster, get your juices flowing with some good old-fashioned foreplay instead of reaching for the lube. Oil-based lubricants (like massage oil) can change your cervical mucus and the pH of your vaginal tract, making it more difficult for your partner’s sperm to find its way to the promised land. Even saliva can turn into a sperm-killer. An alternate get-in-the-mood idea: Watch a sexy movie together — doing so actually boosts the quality of your guy’s sperm. (If these tactics don’t do the trick and you find that you’re simply too dry to get the deed done, try a dime-sized dollop of a water-based lube like K-Y.)
Don’t worry too much.
Studies show that extreme stress can lower your chances of getting pregnant by causing hormone levels to go haywire and decreasing cervical mucus. We’re talking about high anxiety here — not run-of-the-mill frustrations like a demanding boss or tantrum-ing toddler. But even if you’re not at freak-out levels, it can’t hurt to keep your nerves in check by avoiding work overloads, hitting a yoga or Zumba class, listening to music or venting to your partner or a sympathetic pal. Another plus to finding time for R&R now: Once you do make and deliver a baby, “me” time will be a whole lot harder to nab.