What actions boost your fertility and get you pregnant?

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Answered by: Jenilee, An Expert in the Pregnancy and Birth Category
Getting pregnant is a matter of perfect timing. The chances are in your favor that something is not medically wrong with you or your partner. Most couples conceive within six months of trying, and more than eight in 10 couples are pregnant within one year. Knowing when to have sex and having healthy habits may be all that's needed to take you from "trying" to "expecting:"Here's how to boost your fertility and get pregnant:

1. Find your "fertile window." A woman's egg can be fertilized only for about 12 to 24 hours each cycle during ovulation. Experts say your best chance of conceiving is if you have sex in the two to three days before ovulation. Sperm can live in a woman's body for three days or longer, so having sex in the days leading up to ovulation helps guarantee that sperm will be there to meet the egg in the fallopian tube, where fertilization occurs.

But finding out when ovulation takes place is no easy task. Ovulation usually occurs 14 days before your next period. But cycle lengths vary, and few women have a textbook 28-day cycle. If your cycle is regular and lasts from 27 to 29 days, use our fertility calculator to help find your "fertile window."These techniques can help pinpoint ovulation, but they only work about half of the time. Remember to have sex the few days before ovulation to increase your chances of conceiving:

Charting your basal body temperature. This is the temperature of your body during rest. Take your temperature when you first wake up in the morning before getting out of bed. Your temperature will rise by 0.4 to 0.8 degree Fahrenheit during ovulation, and remain increased until your next period.

Cervical mucus. Your vaginal discharge changes throughout your cycle. Close to ovulation, discharge increases a lot. These are "wet days." The mucus looks clear and slippery. "Wet days" last about four days. You are most fertile a day or two before and during the wet days.

Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) and fertility monitors. OPKs work by detecting luteinizing hormone (LH) in a woman's urine. LH is always present, but it rises the 24 to 48 hours before ovulation. Fertility monitors detect both LH and estrogen so they are more accurate than OPKs, but they also cost more.

2. Have regular intercourse. Because predicting ovulation is so challenging, experts advise having sex every one to two days to maximize your chances of conception. But studies show that couples who have sex two or three times per week get pregnant almost as often as couples who have intercourse more often. Having frequent, regular sex helps assure that sperm will be available to meet the egg whenever ovulation occurs. Note that not having sex for five days or longer can lower sperm counts.

3.Skip the lubricant. Some vaginal lubricants may slow sperm motility (how well sperm move) and velocity (how fast sperm move). None, though, has really been shown to decrease fertility. If you must use a lubricant, it may be better to use mineral oil, canola oil or a hydroxyethylcellulose-based lubricant such as Pre-Seed.

4. Keep a healthy weight. Weighing too much or too little can affect your fertility. One study found that very obese women with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher took twice as long to get pregnant as women at a healthy weight. Thin women with a BMI of 19 and below took four times longer to conceive. Getting regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet can help you reach a healthy weight. Ask your doctor about a healthy weight and activity level.

5. Curb your alcohol and caffeine intake. Taking in large amounts of alcohol and caffeine can hurt your fertility. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day and caffeine to two cups of coffee or fewer per day.

6. Don't smoke or use illegal drugs. If you do, get help to quit. Smoking is linked with infertility in men and women, miscarriage and a host of other illnesses.

7. Cope well with stress. It's not clear if stress causes infertility. Stress makes the organs in your body work harder than normal, possibly affecting the production of some hormones. This can cause a woman to ovulate later in her cycle or not at all. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing and getting regular exercise and enough sleep can help ease stress.

8. Know when to seek help. If you have been trying to conceive for one year without luck, see your doctor. If you're 35 or older, see your doctor after six months of unsuccessfully trying. Women's fertility sharply declines after age 35 and men's fertility starts to lessen around age 50.

You may want to see your doctor sooner if you have conditions that can impact fertility, such as:

Absent or irregular menstrual periods (amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea)

Very painful periods (dysmenorrhea)

Endometriosis

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

More than one miscarriage

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