Sure, your seventh-grade sex-ed teacher led you to believe that if you so much as touched a boy, you would get knocked up. But now that you’re a grown-up, you know that it’s not quite that easy (like, not even close). Here, eight things to know if you’re TTC (that’s trying to conceive) or thinking about starting soon and want to boost your fertility.
8 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
“Cigarette smoking affects egg quality,” Dr. Aimee D. Eyvazzadeh, MD, MPH tells us. “It makes a woman run out of eggs faster and can cause ectopic pregnancies.” But you knew this one already, right?
Obviously not when you’re actually trying to get pregnant (you remember how babies are made, yes?). But unless you’re in a long-term, committed relationship, Dr. Eyvazzadeh says to put a glove on it. “If you're a woman having unprotected intercourse, being exposed to a sexually transmitted infection can make getting pregnant naturally more difficult,” she explains. That’s because chlamydia and gonorrhea (two of the most common STIs) can cause tubal blockage. And if your fallopian tubes are blocked, then the embryo can’t get into the uterus (i.e. no baby).
Check your health
Book a preconception appointment before you start planning for pregnancy. You want to make sure that your BMI is healthy and that your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all normal.
Get the timing right
Sure, penciling “sexy time” in your calendar for 9:45 p.m. doesn’t exactly scream spontaneity and fun, but if you’re trying for a baby then you want to make sure that you’re having sex when you’re ovulating. For most women, that’s about 14 days before their next period, but you can get a better idea of your fertility window with an at-home ovulation test. You can also track your basal body temperature and take note of your daily discharge—find out more here.
Lower your stress and cortisol
High cortisol levels can affect fertility, Gabriella Safdieh, MD, from Parsley Health tells us. “When your sympathetic nervous system is activated, your body is in a fight or flight mode, which will greatly impact your hormones and your body will not be in an optimal state for fertility.” We know it’s hard but try to reduce stress with meditation, gentle exercise and getting enough sleep.
Skip the (store-bought) lube
According to Dr. Eyvazzadeh, even the lubricants that say sperm-friendly on them could actually be killing your guy’s, um, little guys. Instead, she recommends using household items proven not to hurt sperm like coconut oil and olive oil.
“Make sure your doctor is performing advanced testing to potentially get to the underlying cause of infertility,” advises Dr. Safdieh. Infertility can be the result of an underlying hormonal, adrenal, thyroid or genetic condition, she adds. “At Parsley, we test for nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances, toxins (i.e., heavy metals), hormone levels, thyroid function and genetic mutations.” Knowledge is power.
Here’s another no-brainer: Make sure to fill up your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables and good protein. Eating a low-inflammatory diet that’s rich in healthy fats (like salmon, olive oil and walnuts) could also help, says Dr. Safdieh. Salmon tacos, anyone?