Trying to conceive can be a stressful process, even when the goal is to keep it fun. It is important to consult with your provider to discuss ways to increase your chance of success, but remember; many ways can increase odds of conception that may not be your provider's typical recommendation. Some of these less conventional recommendations may even be important to continue throughout pregnancy. Here are our top 10!
1. Have sex every day!
Research shows that couples with the highest rate of pregnancy have sex as often as possible. Especially as often as possible close to ovulation! Sperm can live in the body for up to 5 days so don’t stress if you do end up missing a day.
It is important to get into this pattern before trying to conceive so that it does not feel like added stress. It should be something you enjoy doing and are already used to doing before you add on the other stresses trying to conceive can bring.
Remember, even if you use a fertility tracking app it may not be accurate. There is limited research proving accuracy in these methods of tracking ovulation. It can be better to play it safe and have sex more often when trying to conceive!
2. Don't rush to clean up after!
Try laying for 10-15 minutes or even taking a cat nap after sex. Rushing to clean up risks the loss of sperm by not even giving them the chance to travel. Standing up can shift and move the position of sperm. Treat sex as an extremely relaxing experience and get a bit of rest after. Maybe even try a peaceful meditation to keep your stress levels low and let your body do its thing!
3. Have Fun!
Sex should not feel like a business. Your stress levels rise when you treat it as work rather than play! Increased cortisol, the stress hormone, can cause a delay in success when trying to conceive. We all know the story of the couple that decided to stop trying and then got pregnant shortly after. Try switching up your usual routine to make sex more fun. It is easy to feel trapped in a routine and treat sex as a normal daily chore when you are TTC. It is important to also not to pressure yourself to have fun and relax. Try just going for it when you’re in the mood, less thinking and more doing.
4. Keep your womb warm!
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners recommend keeping your womb warm.
Kirsty Eng, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner says “Yang warming energy is the origin of movement of blood and qi throughout the body. It is also the catalyst for reproductive processes, like ovulation and implantation. Yang energy, being also uplifting and supportive in nature, is also responsible for allowing a pregnancy to continue.”
A Yang deficiency refers to a cold womb. A warm womb has good blood flow.
To promote a warm womb you can try eating warm foods and drinks, keeping your feet warm, avoiding sitting on cold surfaces, avoiding swimming when menstruating, and trying acupuncture!
5. Ditch the alcohol!
Limiting alcohol is not just good for a developing baby! It is also good for you and your partner. Limiting alcohol can benefit a higher sperm count. Drinking can prevent ovulation, although researchers are unsure as to why. It can also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.
One study, by Human Reproduction, found that the more a woman drinks the less likely she becomes to conceive. The results from this article stated, “moderate to heavy drinking during the luteal phase, and heavy drinking in the ovulatory window could disturb the delicate sequence of hormonal events, affecting chances of a successful conception.”
6. Maintain a healthy weight!
Being either over or underweight can impact your ability to conceive. For someone overweight, it may take twice as long to conceive and four times as long for someone underweight.
This goes for you and your partner! While estrogen is produced at a higher rate in obese women, obesity in males can disrupt the endocrine system. This affects sperm viability and the chance of successful pregnancy. Increased estrogen can cause interference with ovulation.
Being underweight can cause disruption in ovulation as well, and a loss of periods altogether (amenorrhea).
Starting a workout routine can be a fun activity to do with your partner and may benefit you both.
Exercise reduces stress by increasing endorphins and reducing cortisol levels (your stress hormone). Reduction of stress has been proven to increase the chances of conception. Exercise also helps you sleep better and a good circadian rhythm also increases those chances of conception! Continuing to exercise during pregnancy reduces the risk of some health issues in pregnancy.
7. Quickies Count!
Remember, documentaries are great, but short films are entertaining too! There is no research connecting the length of sex and chance of getting pregnant so as far as we know, they count too! Your chances are just as high with a quickie and they can be fun!
They also come in handy when you’re tracking ovulation and may have limited time to have sex, but need to do so immediately.
We do recommend that you still aim to orgasm, for pleasure purposes because some professionals believe this can increase the chance of success when TTC.
8. Improve your wellness!
Research has proven that what you put on your skin and what you put into your body affects the chances of conception.
Improve your diet by eating antioxidant-rich foods, leafy greens that are high in folate, more fiber, and fewer carbs.
Try including quinoa, beans, lentils, avocados, Greek yogurt, cheeses, salmon, and sunflower seeds in your diet.
Many beauty products are unsafe to use when pregnant and maybe even when trying to conceive. Always read the label when purchasing products or speak to your doctor. Try to avoid salicylic acid, retinoids, chemical sunscreens, benzoyl peroxide, and hydroxy acids.
9. Start a project!
The countdown of DPO (days past ovulation) can feel like an eternity. It is important to reduce stress during this period as well. The best way to do that? Find something else to focus on. Make a list of projects you have been meaning to start or hobbies you have wanted to attempt picking up. Maybe a good project would be researching meal planning or starting a relaxing workout routine. Just keep yourself focused on other things in addition to TTC. You don’t want to lose sight of who you are and what you enjoy or add additional stress to your life.
10. Tone your uterus
Exercise is not the only method you should use to tone your uterus. Herbal teas can be used to tone the muscles of your uterus too! Red raspberry leaves are commonly used to tone the uterus, but we also recommend using saffron, lemon balm, and Dong Quai.
Dong Quai increases the circulation of blood to the uterus and is iron-rich. It tones the uterus by regulating hormonal control and menstrual cycle rhythm. This can also help those with endometriosis, uterine cysts or fibroids, ovarian cysts, can improve your immune system, and can decrease cramping.
Lemon Balm supports healthy stress responses and can decrease anxiety and depression. With TTC being a stressful experience for many, but one that requires low stress to be successful, lemon balm is important.
Saffron can increase your sex drive! This is great during a time when you are trying to have sex as often as possible, but have as much fun as possible. This works for both men and women by increasing blood flow in the pelvic region.
Barton, D. (2021, May 7). How to use fertility herbs to enhance your fertility naturally. Natural Fertility Info.com. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-herbs
Eng, K. (2018, October 30). You need a warm womb! Kirsty Eng. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://kirstyeng.com.au/blog/you-need-a-warm-womb/
Laurel (2021, October 5). 10 foods to eat to increase fertility. Laurel Fertility Care. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.laurelfertility.com/foods-to-eat-increase-fertility/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, August 18). Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
Mohammad Yaser Anwar, Michele Marcus, Kira C Taylor, The association between alcohol intake and fecundability during menstrual cycle phases, Human Reproduction, Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2021, Pages 2538–2548, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deab121
Stroud, K. (2020, August 29). How to care for your skin when trying to conceive, pregnant or nursing. Dermstore. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.dermstore.com/blog/skin-care-ingredients-avoid-pregnant/
(n.d.). How Fast Can You Get Pregnant? - New Kids Center. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.newkidscenter.org/How-Fast-Can-You-Get-Pregnant.html
Zwingerman R, Chaikof M, Jones C. A Critical Appraisal of Fertility and Menstrual Tracking Apps for the iPhone. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2020 May;42(5):583-590. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2019.09.023. Epub 2019 Dec 25. PMID: 31882289.
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The light isn't green forever.
Jess Kimball is a Full Spectrum Doula and Certified Lactation Counselor trained in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.