Many couples trying to conceive want to know want they can do to improve their chances getting pregnant and having a healthy baby…
Diet and Lifestyle: Be at your optimal weight, take a supplement, no smoking or alcohol
Try to attain your optimal weight (BMI of 19.5-24.9) because being too thin or overweight decreases fertility, especially ovulation. There is little evidence that certain diets (low fat, vegetarian, vitamin-rich, antioxidants) improve fertility. Taking a supplement that includes 600-800 mcg folic acid improves fertility and decreases the risk of miscarriage and having a baby with malformations. Both smoking and alcohol (especially alcohol in higher levels) have been associated with an increase in infertility. Moderate caffeine consumption (1-2 cups of coffee a day) has no negative effect on fertility or pregnancy. Sauna bathing is safe for women, but men should prevent overheating of testicles. Environmental exposure to pesticides and other environmental exposures may have reproductive consequences.
Frequency, Timing, and Position of Intercourse: Have sex once every 1-2 days and each day during your fertile window
The highest pregnancy rates are achieved by frequent but not too frequent intercourse. More than 5 days between ejaculation or more than once a day will decrease his sperm count. Once every 1-2 days is optimal, but even less frequent intercourse (two to three times per week) achieves nearly equivalent results.
To improve your chances of getting pregnant, you must have sex during the right time in your menstrual cycle. The fertile window is the time in a cycle when you must have intercourse for conception and pregnancy to occur. The fertile window last 6 days and ends on the day of ovulation. It lasts for 5 days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation. Most doctors recommend the “missionary position” though there are no specific studies showing any differences in fertility in various positions. While it’s more fun for a woman to have an orgasm, there is no proof that it helps improve fertility.
There is no evidence that specific sexual positions, orgasm, or prolonged rest after intercourse increase the chance of conception. Some lubricants (Astroglide®, KY® Jelly, KY® TouchTM, saliva and olive oil) used during intercourse may decrease sperm motility (movement) or survival. These should be avoided if possible. Others (PreSeed®, mineral oil, or canola oil) have no such effect and can be used as needed.
Ovulation: When Does It Happen and Ovulation Monitoring
Because the fertile window is set by the day of ovulation, it is important to know when a woman is ovulating. There are several methods of determining ovulation. Cervical mucus and vaginal secretions start to increase 5 to 6 days prior to ovulation and peak 2 to 3 days before ovulation. These changes can be monitored to identify the fertile window in many women. Urinary ovulation predictor kits can also be used to detect the rise in luteinizing hormone (LH) that happens just before ovulation. LH is the primary trigger that results in the eggs being released from the ovary (Why Am I Not Ovulating?).
Cervical mucus (CM or vaginal secretions) provides a good index of when ovulation may be expected. CM changes from the time of the menstrual period (bleeding) from dry to moist to slippery and clear, similar to egg-white cervical mucus (EWCM) around ovulation. The estimated probability of conception, in relation to the characteristics of cervical/vaginal secretions, is shown in the right figure. The probability is highest when mucus is slippery and clear, although such mucus is by no means a prerequisite for pregnancy to occur.