Having had various issues getting pregnant myself and needing IVF for genetic reasons (read my story here), I have had a lot of experience and time spent on fertility forums. I’ve picked up lots of tips on conceiving (known as TTC for short, Trying to Conceive) – some may have more use than others, but when you’ve been trying for a while or you’re just plain impatient, you’re willing to try anything. I’ve looked into the old wive’s tales on getting pregnant to see if there’s any truth in them for you too. If you’ve been trying for a baby longer than a year with no luck, it’s definitely worth a trip to the GP to rule out any issues. In the mean time, here are my top tips for increasing your chances of getting pregnant.
1. Regular, unprotected sex
Did I say I wasn’t going to mention the obvious? I lied. Once your period is finished, start having sex every other day. Apparently the missionary position is best so finish up this way.
Make sure he ejaculates right inside you and doesn’t pull out straight away. Afterwards, stay lying down and if possible, put a cushion under your bottom to tilt your pelvis backwards. Turn around and put your legs up against the wall. Relax and do some deep breathing. Ideally you’ll have had an orgasm too, although it’s not essential. The orgasmic contractions of the uterus and vagina help pull the sperm up the cervix and in the right direction, it also increases blood flow to the uterus and Fallopian tubes. After 5-10 minutes you can get up. You will get some watery semen dripping out but that’s normal and the sperm part of the ejaculate will have gone where it’s supposed to. Contrary to what some people believe you can get pregnant when having sex standing up, on top, however which way you do it and if they pull out straight away. This way just gives you the optimal chance, particularly if the sperm count is slightly on the low side.
Have you heard of a moon cup? They’re made as a natural alternative to pads for menstruation, but inserting one after intercourse (before you stand up) can ‘hold’ the sperm next to the cervix and encourage the swimmers up to the right place. I imagine this would help if your man’s sperm count is on the lower side. You need to get one from a company that conforms to industry standards and is the right size for you. I recommend the UK company Mooncup or take a look here if you’re in the US for options.
2. Wrap up warm
In Chinese medicine, it is believed if you keep your feet warm when trying to conceive (perhaps during the middle of the month) it helps. What made sense to me is the practice of keeping your womb warm by keeping a hot water bottle on your tummy in the days following ovulation. Since it’s pretty hard to know the exact time of ovulation and possible implantation, it’s nigh on impossible to keep a hot water bottle permanently strapped to you, so just generally keeping warm may be better. Eat warm food, wrap up warm! Great during the winter.
3. Use a fertility lubricant
If you’ve been trying for a few months with no luck, it might be worth trying a lubricant that has proven results. Normal lubricants can block the sperm by creating a barrier. So many people have used Pre-Seed, a lubricant that mimics the pH of fertile cervical mucous and contains an antioxidant which supports the sperm. There’s also Conceive plus, which is also pH balanced and contains magnesium and calcium to support the sperm. Both lubricants are certified safe for couples trying to conceive, and I have read about so many success stories of couples using them.
Easier said than done, but just have sex for fun, try new things, have some romance together, get drunk! Forget about it for a month and you might be surprised with 2 little lines. So many people advocate taking a break or forgetting about it for a bit. Try a romantic break away together and see what happens. Here’s some advice from parents who’ve been there.
5. Maca Root Supplements
The Maca Root is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown in studies to improve fertility in both men and women. It supports hormonal balance, the thyroid and normal sexual function. It is also said to increase mental clarity, energy and stamina. Both men and women should take it. Laura says:
You need to make sure it’s as pure and natural as possible. If you live in Peru, where it grows you could source it naturally, but otherwise, Incite Nutrition are a UK company that sell Maca Root supplements at pure natural grade.
6. Dark Chocolate
Here’s one you can easily get on board with. Chocolate contains Flavonoids and Arginine which can elevate your mood and promote blood flow to the uterus and ovaries specifically. Just a square or two each per night can have all sorts of benefits, plus chocolate makes you feel good and releases Oxytocin, the love hormone.
7. Evening Primrose Oil
Research has shown that taking a daily supplement of Evening Primrose Oil (sometimes shortened to EPO) can help reduce PMT and inflammation, increase cervical mucous production and improve uterine health. This is because it is a rich source of the omega-6 essential fatty acids Linoleic Acid (LA), and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). LA and GLA are required by the body to make Prostaglandin E (PGE2). Prostaglandin E plays an important part in female fertility by helping to control regulation of hormones, acting on uterine cells, cervical cells and corpus luteum regression. Getting enough LA and GLA omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids through EPO supplementation ensures you are promoting healthy Prostaglandin function. There is a slight blood thinning action so care should be taken if you are on blood thinning medication, and Epilepsy sufferers are advised against taking Evening Primrose Oil. Again, if you are going to take it, make sure it is in it’s purest form.
8. Track your cycle and ovulation
There are several ways to track ovulation. Firstly, take your temperature every day with a digital thermometer to two decimal places and record the results all the way through a couple of cycles. This method has been used for a long time, my Mum remembers using it when she was trying, as it was taking a while. You can get digital thermometer kits on Amazon with charts included very cheaply, or record it on a fertility app like Ovia or Fertility Friend. You should notice an increase in temperature by a couple of points before ovulation, and then it will stay up afterwards, then decrease before your period starts. Start having sex every other day at least as the temperature increases and for a week afterwards. If you get pregnant, the temperature will stay up. Ovulation prediction test strips can help you predict when ovulation will occur too, they work like pregnancy tests, you pee on them and there will always be a faint line but then when you get the hormone surge it becomes darker. Once you’ve gone through one cycle you know what to look out for. Sophie says:
The other way to track your cycle is by looking at your cervical mucous. It sounds gross but it’s important stuff! You really get to know your body when you’re TTC. Your cervical mucous changes throughout your cycle, from thick and creamy to watery and then to egg white stretchy mucous, which is when it’s most fertile. It then goes back to thick. To check yours, insert two fingers gently into the vagina, then withdraw and pull your fingers apart. If you don’t get much out and it’s white and thick, then it’s not fertile. As you get closer to ovulation, the mucous becomes more watery and stretchy until it becomes like egg white and you can stretch your fingers apart and a string of mucous will remain attached. After ovulation the mucous goes back to being thick and white. I used this method alone with Daniel, had unprotected intercourse once during the month and got pregnant.
If you know your body and your cycle, you can have sex exactly at the right time, which may be different to when you thought it was. Emma describes her experience:
There are a lot of women who are fans of the Clearblue Fertility monitor, which is a little more expensive than the ovulation sticks but many swear by it and have had success as above, as it monitors more than just the LH surge and can also test for pregnancy. It’s proven to be as accurate as ultrasound testing for ovulation. You can get the fish oil tablets in health food shops, chemists or online via this link.
Lots of women swear by Acupuncture as an aid to conceiving. I think it helps by promoting relaxation and well-being, but it’s been practised for so many years and is recommended by lots of fertility clinics to women undergoing IVF.
10. Cough Mixture
Certain cough mixtures contain Guaifenesin, which thins the mucous in the chest, but it doesn’t stop there and also thins the cervical mucous. Some women swear by it around ovulation, so that the sperm can easily get past the cervical mucous. During pregnancy it’s not advised for the same reason, if it loosens the cervical mucous it could cause problems, so should be used only around ovulation. Check the label on your cough mixture, or get one from a chemist.
11. See an Osteopath or Chiropractor
Alignment, especially pelvic alignment is important during TTC and pregnancy. It may be worth seeing an Osteopath or Chiropractor for an assessment. They can literally click things into place for you and it may make a difference. Pippa has a funny story about this:
Similar to Acupuncture in the way that it is a relaxation aid, gives you time out to relax and talk through your issues, but Reflexology can also help pinpoint where you are in your cycle, and highlight any problem areas.
13. Keep the sperm healthy
Sperm need to be at a lower temperature than body temperature, which is why the testes are on the outside (poor design), so make sure underwear and trousers aren’t too tight, avoid saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs on fertile days. A good multivitamin is a good idea, one with zinc, calcium and magnesium is best. There is also evidence that men should take a Folic Acid supplement whilst TTC to prevent abnormalities. Some things you may not even think about, Emma suggests:
Sex first thing in the morning is supposed to be when the sperm count is at it’s highest, so get your morning glory on! Beth agrees, she was told by an adamant friend that it’s when sperm is at their peak. It’s all about the quality of the sperm too, and regular ejaculation keeps the sperm healthy, so don’t abstain – good news for the guys.
General health tips for men: lose weight if you’re overweight, as being overweight can affect your hormone balance just like it does for women. Avoid too much soy in your diet, as too much decreases the sperm count.
14. Check your Thyroid
Do you suffer from Hypo or Hyperthyroidism? If you do get your levels checked before you start trying for a baby to make sure they are stable. Jenni suffers but thought she was OK:
If you’ve never been checked and have been trying for a while it might be worth asking your GP to do a blood test.
15. The Keto Diet/ Losing weight
If you are overweight just losing weight by eating healthy and exercising more will help increase your fertility, but the Keto diet (you can find more information on the Keto diet here) is particularly good if you suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome).
It’s a good idea to make any lifestyle changes together as a couple, that way you’ll feel proactive and unified together. As mentioned above with the men, being overweight in men and women affects the hormone balance, as does being underweight.
It’s often the hardest thing to do, but even small changes can help. Try listening to motivational podcasts specific to weight loss which can help you along.
16. Cut/ Reduce Caffeine intake
There isn’t 100% clear evidence on caffeine and fertility, but it is generally agreed it is safe to consume 200 to 300 mg of caffeine daily while trying to conceive, which equates to up to two 8-ounce cups of coffee with milk.
Don’t forget caffeine is in tea and a lot of fizzy drinks and also chocolate, so check your food and drink labels. It goes without saying (hopefully) that energy drinks are a no-no.
17. Quit smoking
If you or your partner smoke, both should quit. Smoking massively affects fertility and the quality of eggs and sperm. You can use patches and E-cigarettes when TTC and pregnancy so it’s always the right time to quit.
18. Reduce or cut Alcohol
Too much alcohol affects you and your partner’s fertility plus it can make you put on weight. Try cutting out the booze for a couple of months and see what happens.
19. Royal Jelly Supplements
I know it’s another supplement, if you take them all you’d be rattling, but there’s evidence in all of them so they all have their uses. Royal Jelly is said to be good for raising the egg and sperm quality, and hormone balance. Royal Jelly is what’s fed to the Queen Bee to develop her ovaries and is not eaten by the other bees. Try Forza Royal Jelly 250mg Supplements or Fit Life Health Royal Jelly 750mg Supplements.
So there you have it, my epic list of ways to help you get pregnant. Have you used any of these methods? What worked for you if you struggled? Let me know in the comments below, I read them all and reply.
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