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The Basics of Baby-making: Five Ways to Improve the Pregnancy Odds

The Basics of Baby-making: Five Ways to Improve the Pregnancy Odds


Due to the cautionary sex education most of us received in our youth, it can be startling to discover how long it can take to get pregnant when you actually want to. Experts estimate that there is only a 25 to 30 percent chance of conception and implantation in any given cycle, even if everything is functioning perfectly. Fertility specialists insist that healthy couples in their twenties and early thirties should keep trying to conceive for at least a full year before seeking medical assistance. Once you’ve made up your mind to have a baby, however, chances are that you want it to happen now. Rest assured that there are a few things that can be done to help the process along and increase the probability of seeing that second pink line in the not-too-distant future.

Have Healthful Habits

Most pregnancy guides will suggest practicing good health habits before getting pregnant because it is best for the baby once conception occurs. However, eating healthy, getting exercise, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and getting enough sleep can also help improve the chances of conceiving in the first place – for both men and women.

The body’s various systems are all highly connected. If one of them is not working effectively, it can throw everything off. This includes ovulation and sperm production. Someone who is over- or underweight should try to get within a healthy range for his or her height and body type. Smokers should quit immediately. Tobacco use reduces respiratory efficiency, has been linked to low sperm counts and poor sperm quality, and is known to cause birth defects once pregnancy occurs. People who regularly get less than seven hours of sleep at night should try to rearrange their schedules and get to bed earlier. A body that is fit and well-cared-for will be more likely to function properly and give you the results you want more quickly.

Track Your Timing

Women aren’t fertile 365 days a year. There is a window of only two to three days in each menstrual cycle in which conception can occur. To improve the chances of getting pregnant, you need to find that window.

For some women, it is only a matter of counting. In the average, regular, 30-day cycle, ovulation will take place somewhere around day 14. However, most women’s cycles don’t run like clockwork. They range in length and regularity, and ovulation doesn’t always take place at the mid-point of the cycle. Past methods of detecting ovulation involved complicated charts and special thermometers. Fortunately, science has recently made it simpler. Most manufacturers of home pregnancy tests are now also offering at-home ovulation indicators. Simply follow the directions on the box and the test will let you know when you are most fertile.

It is also a good idea to keep track of your cycles in a journal or calendar for future reference. This can be helpful in determining your due date if you do become pregnant, or give your physician more information if you end up needing a fertility assessment.

Keep Cool

Many people have heard the suggestion that men who are trying to become fathers should wear boxers instead of briefs. While there is no hard scientific evidence to support this particular claim, the concept is based in medical fact. Because optimal sperm production takes place at approximately one degree cooler than normal body temperature, anything that keeps the testes too warm can inhibit fertility.

In addition to tight underwear, the list of things men may want to avoid includes hot tubs and saunas, hot baths, placing a laptop computer on the lap, and holding that cup of hot coffee between their thighs while driving. By keeping the testes at their ideal temperature, sperm production is improved, as are the odds of successful conception.

Savor Sex

It is extremely important for the relationship that sex not become a chore while trying to conceive. Because the practice of tracking your cycle and monitoring fertility can make sex seem a little scheduled, it can easily lose some of its spontaneity and enjoyment for one or both of you. This not only takes a toll on the relationship, but may also inhibit conception.

Scientific evidence indicates that the muscle contractions that occur during a woman’s orgasm actually aid in the transfer of sperm through the cervix and into the uterus. While it is certainly possible for women to conceive without orgasm, it is one more way to improve the odds of getting pregnant sooner.

Do whatever you can to keep sex exciting and enjoyable during this time. Avoid saying things like, “I’m ovulating this weekend.” Instead, wear something a little sexier than usual, coordinate a romantic night alone, or just give him that look. Also, remember that increasing the frequency of sex to more than once every other day or so will not improve your odds of conception but will probably wear you both out.

Relax and Relinquish

At the end of the day, pregnancy is a matter of chance. It can’t be forced, even with medical procedures like in vitro fertilization. Focusing all your energy on trying to conceive will quickly become stressful and frustrating, particularly if you are not successful for several months. Maintaining this stressed-out state will not only have a negative effect on your body and potentially impede conception, but will also make each passing month feel more like a year. By accepting that whatever happens will happen in its own time, you will be able to maintain a calm mental and physical state, which is useful not only in conception, but also in parenthood.

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