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What You Need to Know to Take Charge of Your Fertility

When you make the decision to start a family, it’s exciting ― a great deal of hope and activity can be generated almost overnight. And once you’ve decided to start trying, it’s natural to want to conceive as quickly as possible.

Doing your research on how to move toward conception quickly is a wise first step on your journey toward parenthood. Finding the best information you can will increase your chances of achieving your hopes and expectations.

The first and most important step is to relax and allow yourself to enjoy the process. Your pregnancy journey has the potential to begin in love, intimacy, and fun―some think this is the best part! However, if you’re looking to rely on more than fun and fate, keep on reading for some simple steps to increase the possibility of rapid success.

Doing your research on how to move toward conception quickly is a wise first step on your journey toward parenthood.

Managing Your General Wellbeing

A a great place to start is your general wellbeing: are your body and mind in a prime state of health to support a pregnancy and delivery? Here are some activities to undertake to improve your mental and physical health.

Consider Counseling

A first step that can impact your entire pregnancy journey, but that few future parents take advantage of, is preconception counseling. This is a sit-down with a medical professional to consider your individual physical and emotional needs.

This counselor will get a full medical history to discuss its impact on your fertility, including family medical background, your current medications, and more. Finding out about potential issues of concern around conception might feel scary, but to be forewarned is to be prepared.

You might even want genetic tests to see what impact your family history might have on your pregnancy and baby. Your counselor will be equipped to walk you through the process of making decisions that feel comfortable for you.

Get a Health Check

You should see your primary care doctor yearly for a physical regardless of your desire to become pregnant. Yearly checkups help you to feel assured about your overall health, and can also bring to light any underlying health concerns – such as anemia or blood pressure problems – that should be addressed before trying to conceive.

A visit to your ob-gyn will yield full gynecological exam, a set of blood tests, and testing for rubella immunity. If you are not immune to rubella, you might want to get vaccinated and then wait for three months before halting contraception.

Oddly, you might think, you should also see your dentist. According to a study by Farrell, Ide, and Wilson, there is an association between maternal periodontal disease and late miscarriage. Good oral health could be the difference between keeping your baby to full term or not.

Stop Smoking

One of the best ways to prepare for conception is to stop smoking, and this advice pertains to both parents. Smoking can not only limit your ability to get pregnant, but also increase the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

Tobacco also lowers the level of estrogen, which reduces the probability of ovulation in a menstrual cycle, and lowers the quality and quantity of sperm.

Give Up Alcohol and Consider Your Caffeine Intake

It’s now common knowledge that alcohol is bad for a fetus, and can even impact conception of a healthy baby. Caffeine is more of a gray area, however; according to Edmund Hey, a retired pediatrician, drinking coffee is not entirely out of the question.

On the other hand, some papers have pointed to caffeine as a reason for lower levels of fertility. Other studies say caffeine can increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirths, as well as fetal growth issues. The studies are inconclusive because excessive coffee drinking tends to correlate with excessive habits in other lifestyle areas.

So what should you make of all this?

It’s probably wise to cut back to the standard recommended amount of 300mg caffeine a day, even if you aren’t willing to cut out caffeine entirely.

Give Up Alcohol and Consider Your Caffeine Intake

Eat Well and Exercise

You can start preparing your body for the pressures of pregnancy by taking a supplement like folic acid at least a month before you begin to try to conceive. You should also try to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as a variety of healthy proteins such as beans, nuts, soy, and white meats. There is some research from the FDA to suggest that cutting back on white fish is a good idea, as white fish can include mercury, and increased mercury levels in the blood are linked to lower fertility levels.

Stop Contraception

Seems kind of obvious, right? But details matter, and the important takeaway here is not just to stop the contraception, but to consider the timing of when you do so. If your current method of contraception is birth control pills, then it’s important to note that women typically regain fertility immediately after stopping the pill, as the hormones in the pill are not long-lasting. However, your menstrual cycle will return to whatever regularity or irregularity you experienced before the pill. The same is true if you’re using the birth control patch or ring.

If you use an IUD, then your fertility should return immediately after its removal. If you use the Depo-Provera injections, then you may need to be more patient since the shots last three months and may take a while after your last shot to completely wear off. This means you may need to plan up to six months in advance.

If you are trying to time the birth date to a point in the year, then it’s best to halt the above measures of contraception earlier than you need to, and use barrier contraception instead.

Learn When You Ovulate

To be precise in your attempts to conceive, it’s helpful to understand your cycle.

A woman’s egg can survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation, and sperm can last up to three days after sex. This means you should consider having intercourse before you ovulate, as well as through the ovulation period. But even with hedging your bets in this way, the window of opportunity is still quite narrow. Figuring out exactly when you ovulate can help you utilize this window to the best effect.

Ovulation usually occurs 14 days into your cycle, with day one being the first day of your period and an average cycle being 28 days. But, just to make this even more complicated, this is true for a minority of people. Women can fall into a cycle of anywhere between 24 and 35 days, which means ovulation can happen anywhere between day 10 and day 21 of your cycle.

Ovulation symptoms include minor cramping, particularly on the side you are ovulating, as your body will usually alternate between ovaries. Symptoms of ovulation can also include increased vaginal discharge and libido. For most women, these symptoms are quite subtle, but knowing what to look for may help you notice them.

A general rule of thumb is to measure the gap between the first day of your period in two different cycles and then presume that ovulation will be somewhere in the middle of this period. Tracking your periods on a calendar for a few months will help you get a better sense of your fertility pattern. Alternatively, you can make a point of having sex every other day between day 10 and day 20 of your cycle.

Fertility calculators and monitors such as Ovulation Predictor Kits can take a lot of the guesswork out of defining your exact dates of ovulation. You can also use your basal body temperature by obtaining a basal thermometer and taking your temperature every morning, just as you wake. Your temperature will be lower on the day that you ovulate and will rise the following day – staying elevated until your period.

By charting your morning temperature over many months on a calendar, and you should begin to track the patterns of your body. But take note – your basal body temperature can be skewed by illness and some other factors. To be entirely accurate, it’s important to extend the period you monitor your body.

It’s Not Just Up to Women

Viable sperm from a health-conscious father are just as important as a healthy egg from a mother. It’s not just the job of the woman to track fertility and make lifestyle changes to increase the chance of conception. A man needs to make sure that his sperm are plentiful and of exceptional quality. Luckily, there are lots of ways to accomplish this goal.

What To Consume

The better the man eats, the better his whole body will work. Alcohol and nicotine can negatively impact sperm, and so can excessive weight. Supplements like zinc, folic acid, and vitamin C can be enormously helpful in creating powerful swimmers.

Manage Behavior

Hot tubs and undergarments should be a topic of interest for men hoping to become fathers. Men’s testicles work best between 94 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooler than the average body temperature. This means that hot baths, saunas, and hot tubs can be detrimental to sperm health. It is not about stopping this behavior altogether, but rather halting it while you are trying to conceive – or three months before if you want to make sure sperm is maturing appropriately.

The question of undergarments is less straightforward; some believe that wearing boxers rather than briefs means a better chance of conception. The greater roominess of boxers allows for air circulation, which can cool down the testicles. Most scientists are skeptical of this connection, but if you are looking to cover all your bases, then changing underwear could be seen as a minor sacrifice in the goal of having a baby.

Having Intercourse: When and How

The good news is that most of the positive steps that you can take to quicken your fertility happen before the act of intercourse, so during sex, you get to just focus on having fun!

That said, there are a few tips you can take advantage of during and after the act, but note that these are based more in theory that actual research.

First, one suggestion is that the woman should lie on her back after sex, as this allows the vagina to slope downwards and the sperm to pool. Another theory is that sperm counts are higher in the morning, and therefore the best time to have intercourse is before you get out of bed. But remember, the more fun you have, the more likely you are to orgasm, and female orgasm helps conception more than anything else – aside from male orgasm, of course!

The focus should be to engage in sex that brings you the most pleasure together because you’ll be more likely to want to do it again and again. The more intercourse you have, the higher the chance of success.

There are some things you might want to avoid, however. You should avoid using lubricant, as this can alter the mobility of the sperm and slow it down due to a change of pH balance in the vagina. Also, do your best to reduce worry, since this can reduce sexual desire and the chances of orgasm.

Managing The Test

The sooner you know you are pregnant, the sooner you can seek medical advice to support a healthy pregnancy. Tests are sophisticated nowadays, so it’s possible to detect your pregnancy within about ten days of conception. But be sure not to take a test too early, as this could return a false negative since the hormone levels are not high enough to be recognized by the equipment. It’s best to take a pregnancy test after you miss your next menstruation cycle.

Also, try your hardest not to get frustrated if you don’t get pregnant within the first month; most people do not succeed the first time or even within the first six months. About 85% of parents achieve pregnancy within the first year of trying, which means that about 15 couples out of 100 will be unsuccessful in their first year.

If you’ve been trying for longer than a year, or if you know that you already have certain factors that might affect your pregnancy like age or a health condition, then it’s best to seek support to achieve the results you want. Women over 35 years old should seek medical advice within six months of trying. It may be that you or your partner need to test for infertility.

It’s also possible that the anxiety around attempting to get pregnant quickly due to age may be affecting fertility. Stress management techniques, mindfulness exercises, and counseling are wonderful ways to relieve pressure in order to allow fertility to bounce back. The connection between mind and body is more critical than most western couples like to recognize.

Remember to Enjoy the Process

This is a lot of advice, and combined with all the other advice you’re probably receiving, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. When you’re feeling the pangs of parenthood and it’s not happening as quickly as you’d like, it’s normal to get drawn into a panic – but unfortunately it’s also counterproductive. Do your best to stay patient and reduce stress to help keep fertility levels high. Despite all the advice you’re receiving, remember: ultimately, the point is to have fun and enjoy the process!

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