You know the feeling…
When you’re trying to conceive, it can feel like you suddenly have a baby radar.
You see their cute faces everywhere you go. You notice every pregnant woman walking down the street, when you hear a baby cry you just want to pick her up and hold her. It seems like every time you turn around someone else in your circle of friends is announcing they’re expecting. This often gives the impression that getting pregnant is an almost instantaneous process, and if it takes more than a cycle or two, there must be something wrong.
While there can be issues contributing to how long it can take to get pregnant that need to be assessed by a doctor, there are also many things you can do on your own to help boost your fertility.
Some of them might require you to make big lifestyle changes but some of the most effective changes you can make might are also the easiest. Unfortunately most women don’t take these small steps that could make a huge difference to their chances of conceiving quickly. So what are they?
Let’s start with the 3 ways that most women try to improve their fertility.
Reduce Your Unhealthy Habits
While you may be tempted to wait until the New Year to commit to kicking bad habits, it’s a good idea to reign in any unhealthy behaviors before you start trying to conceive. Smoking, extreme dieting and alcohol consumption stress your body and can contribute to fertility issues. (1–2) Smoking and drinking alcohol in the first few weeks of your pregnancy, when most women are still not aware they are pregnant, can also increase the risk of problems with the baby. Whether you choose to stop bad habits cold turkey or go for a more gradual decline is up to you, but it’s the sooner the better if you’re actively trying to conceive.
Having a Healthy Diet
Paying attention to what you put in your body is one of the easiest things you can do to boost your fertility. With the convenience of fast-food drive-throughs and prepackaged meals at the grocery store, we often eat and drink without giving much thought to the ingredients we’re consuming. When you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet — with a good mix of protein, carbs and good fats. Doing this helps balance your hormones and provides your body the fuel it needs to work its best. You may also want to focus on avoiding xenoestrogens — found in pesticides used on nonorganic produce — and caffeine, both of which have been connected to decreased fertility.
Make Sure You’re Getting the Right Vitamins
You’re probably already aware of the need for prenatal vitamins once you’re pregnant, but it’s also a good idea to go ahead and start taking them while trying to conceive. Folic acid, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids are all very important to your body’s ability to get pregnant and grow your new little bean. Taking prenatal vitamins and any other supplements your health care provider suggests — vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene are common for those struggling with fertility — can give your fertility a boost and ensure your baby gets everything it needs in those important first weeks.
But here’s the thing…
You can give up that cup of coffee in the morning, sign up to a gym and start taking prenatal vitamins every morning. But making those changes might never be enough; they don’t guarantee that you will get pregnant.
That’s not to say that you should change your diet and exercise a bit more. Not only will they help your chances of conceiving, they will also give you and your partner a healthier lifestyle.
You might then ask what is the best way to improve your chances of conceiving?
Start Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle
Accurately and consistently tracking your cycle and fertility signs is the best and easiest ways to boost your chances of conceiving. Your body is giving you signs about your fertility every single day. All you need to know is how to read them.
Despite what our upbringings has lead us to believe, fertility can be complicated, and many different things contribute to your ability to get pregnant. This is why tracking your fertility is so important.
If you aren’t getting your timing right then no matter how healthy you are you won’t get pregnant. That’s a simple fact! Even if you have regular cycles and think you know when you ovulate, something as small as having the flu can cause your body to ovulate a few days or even a week later, which can be the difference between a positive and negative test that month.
So what should you do?
- The first thing you should do is to simply start tracking. Get a diary or download one of the period tracking apps from the app store and begin taking notes of your fertility signs. By taking note of your fertility signs will allow you to see the patterns in your cycle. That can then be used to predict your fertile window.
- From there you should spend a couple hours learning about the how fertility tracking works and how it relates to what’s going on in your body.
- Finally if you want to get the highest accuracy information about your body you should use a product that reads your bodies vital signs, whether using an ovulation predictor kit or a wearable. Although tracking your period and using a fertility app is a good first step, there are limitations to the insights about your body you can get from them. For incidence between 30-40% of all cases of couples struggling to conceive is the result of irregular or abnormal ovulation. 3 However, the apps on the market don’t account for the fact that every woman is different and that everyone might ovulate slightly differently instead they assume that you ovulate normally. Which can cause a lot of frustration and anxiety for a couple if they have been trying to conceive during the fertile window the app is telling them for a couple of months without success. However by using a product that tracks your ovulation you will always know exactly when you are ovulating.
Why Is Tracking Your Fertility So Powerful?
If you are tracking your menstrual cycle each month then not only you will gain a deeper understanding of how your cycle works but you will also feel empowered as you will a greater sense of control over your conception journey. Which will help you to reduce the stress and anxiety you might be experiencing around this time.
But here’s the really interesting bit…
Not only is this information great for you but it is like gold to your doctor. Imagine if you could go into your doctor and give her all of this information. Straight away she could give you answers to all your questions and if she spots anything that might be slowing down your conception journey then she can help you straight away.
There are a lot of things that might slow you down when you are trying to conceive, but the most important thing to remember is that this length of time is perfectly normal. After a couple months of trying nearly everyone starts to get a little bit worried and anxious about their chances of conceiving. How you are feeling now is normal. Just stay positive, start tracking your cycle if you already haven’t started and make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle; and you will be pregnant before you now it.
- Windham GC, Elkin EP, Swan SH, Waller KO, Fenster L. Cigarette smoking and effects on menstrual function. Obstet Gynecol. 1999;93(1):59-65. ↩
- Lyngso J, Toft G, Hoyer BB, Guldbrandsen K, Olsen J, Ramlau-Hansen CH. Moderate alcohol intake and menstrual cycle characteristics. Hum Reprod. 2014;29(2):351-8. ↩
- Thijssen A, Meier A, Panis K, Ombelet W. ‘Fertility Awareness-Based Methods’ and subfertility: a systematic review. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2014;6(3):113-23. ↩