It seems like a no-brainer question, but according to Google, "how to get pregnant" is the third most searched "how-to" question on its search engine. It doesn't say who's typing and searching, but we thought maybe it's time to brush up on reproductive basics.
Scientifically speaking, a woman gets pregnant when a man's sperm fertilizes her egg, which can happen naturally during sexual intercourse. We say naturally because getting pregnant may not be as easy for other couples, and doctors will tell them they may need a little help. (Check out our fertility special here.)
And even if you or your husband has no fertility issue, it can happen that you won't get pregnant the first (or even fourth try). Some might have to wait until three to six months to get pregnant. To help you up your chances of getting lucky and pregnant, here are some tips and tricks many couples swear by:
1. Live healthy -- both you and your partner. Consult your doctor to rule any other conditions that may affect your chances of conceiving. Healthy eating and adequate exercise is a must for both you and your partner. Being overweight may disrupt the woman's hormones. Taking prenatal vitamins also helps prep your body for pregnancy. Giving up smoking is a must and lessening alcohol and caffeine consumption can really improve your chances.
2. Stop the contraceptives, of course! Non-natural birth control methods involve synthetic hormones. Contraceptive pills help regulate the menstrual cycle, so if you stop and time your sexual intercourse right, there's a good chance you'll get pregnant faster. However, if you're on a more long-term hormonal birth control, such as injectables, stop months before you plan on trying for a baby. Reproductive endocrinologist Christopher Williams, M.D., author of The Fastest Way to Get Pregnant Naturally, told Parentsthat it might take a few cycles before your body ovulates regularly.
3. Know your fertile days. One way to estimate when you ovulate is to subtract 14 from the length of your cycle. If you're on a 28-day cycle (Day 1 is the first day of your period), your ovulation period starts on Day 14. If you're on a 24-day cycle, you start to ovulate on Day 10, while a woman with a 35-day cycle would ovulate on Day 21. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle, consult with your doctor to discuss your fertile days.
Here are some ways to know when you're fertile:
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Chart your basal body temperature (BBT). Using a basal body thermometer, which shows tenths of degrees, regularly take your temperature every morning immediately after waking up. On ovulation days, your temperature usually drops subtly, then rises the following day until you get your period.
Monitor your cervical mucus's color and texture. You'll have more vaginal discharge around the time of your ovulation. Hold a sample of your mucus between your thumb and pointy finger. If you can stretch it between your fingers and it doesn't break, you probably are ovulating. Aside from being stretchy, it should be clear, so your mucus will be similar to the consistency of egg whites.
Download and use an app. The apps can help you monitor your menstrual cycle and tell you when you are most fertile. There's even one that comes with a basal thermometer but is marketed as a natural birth control, though it could help you get pregnant, too.
4. Time your bedroom romps properly. According to Parents, sperm can stick around in your uterus and fallopian tubes for two to three days, but the egg only lasts for 12 to 24 hours after your ovary releases it. Getting busy under the sheets every day or every other day starting at Day 10 to 12 of your cycle until Day 20 to 22 or until you get your period will ensure that you won't miss your most fertile day. If you have sex before you ovulate, it still provides a good chance that your partner's sperm will be alive when your ovary releases an egg.
Many will swear that sex every other day is better than having sex every day so that your partner's load has some time to recover, but the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) says there is no evidence frequently ejaculating decreases a man's fertility. According to Baby Center, even if you're saving your man's sperm on your fertile day, he still has to ejaculate to lessen the dead sperm cell build-up.
5. Skip the lubricants. Dr . Williams says commercially-available lubricants could alter the pH balance in the vagina and hinder sperm from having a good swim to your the egg. If foreplay isn't cutting it, theASRM recommends mineral oil, canola oil, or hydroxyethylcellulose-based lubricants.
6. Resting on your back after sex helps. No single sex position is better than others when it comes to conceiving. But "because the vagina naturally slopes downward, resting on your back after sex allows sperm to pool there, which gives them an edge in swimming toward your egg," Dr. Williams said.
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7. Relax, don't worry too much. To conceive, some say you both need to experience orgasm at the same time, switch your partner to boxers instead of briefs, or rear-entry sex positions works best. What matters is you and your partner enjoy lovemaking and not worry about conceiving. Stressing about it only negatively affects your chances.
Depending on your age, if you're stil not pregnant after six months to a year, it's time to consult a fertility specialist who may recommend more specific actions to help you successfully have a bun in the oven.