"The easiest way to determine your likely day of ovulation is to track your cycles for at least three months," says Dr. Shelley Binkley, an OB-GYN in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. "Then, determine the average interval between consecutive first days of your menses, and subtract 14 days," Dr. Binkley says. "This will yield your most likely date of egg release." For example, if you have 28-day cycles, subtract 14 and your egg should be released on Day 14.
You may miss the most fertile time if you time intercourse to occur just after your day of egg release, Dr. Binkley says. The egg can live in the reproductive tract for about 36 hours. Sperm can live there for up to five days. "If you have intercourse for the five days preceding and on your day of ovulation, you maximize your chances of conceiving because the sperm are physically near the egg as it's being released."
Use your body's physical signs of ovulation and pre-ovulation to predict optimal time for conception. Many women with regular cycles produce a clear mucus discharge in the few days preceding and during egg-release, Dr. Binkley says. It's "gooey" and "sticky," which is easy for sperm to penetrate and to sustain them on their way to the egg.
When women rely solely on the calendar to estimate when their ovulation will take place, they're frequently wrong, says Kelly Andrews, founder of Fairhaven Health, which sells natural products for fertility health. "There are many predictive tools on the market—at a variety of price points—that can help you, from fertility monitors to saliva ovulation microscopes to drugstore-brand ovulation tests."
Women attempting pregnancy need to take a multivitamin with folic acid, which is crucial to the normal development of the baby's spine, Dr. Binkley says. Ideally, start taking the recommended amount of folic acid—.4 milligrams (mg)—three months before trying to get pregnant.
Green leafy vegetables, meats, and fortified cereals are common dietary sources of folic acid, Dr. Binkley says. During preconception and pregnancy, eat a commonsense diet—well-balanced with lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid fast foods, snack foods, and refined sugars. Also, if you're undergoing fertility treatments, research has found that a Mediterranean diet may boost your chances of getting pregnant.
Try foods such as goji berries and kombucha drinks to boost your fertility, says Dawn Clare, an intuitive coach and alternative healer in Santa Monica, California. Goji berries are the highest rated antioxidant food filled with nutritional value, including protein, minerals, and amino acids. Kombucha drinks also are filled with vitamins and are a natural detoxifier and health aid to support the fertility process.
Sometimes when you stop "trying" to have a baby, you find yourself pregnant. It's not always that simple, but for some people, the stress of sex for conception makes the act ineffective and something to avoid. It's hard to conceive when you aren't having sex!
Orgasms may increase the likelihood of conception. Of course, an orgasm is absolutely necessary for a man to participate in the conception process, and according to some experts, the contractions of the uterus after orgasm help the sperm along. Regardless, the message is loud and clear: Have fun with your sex life!
"Timing intercourse to correspond with your ovulation date is important, but research indicates that couples who make love regularly—at least a few times per week—improve their chances of conceiving sooner," Andrews says.
"The missionary position with the man on top is generally regarded as the best sexual position to use when trying to achieve pregnancy," Andrews says. Positions with the woman on top are generally not recommended for women trying to get pregnant.
Regular lubricants have been clinically shown to harm sperm and impede their progress, Andrews says. Instead, use a "sperm-friendly" lubricant that is specifically designed for trying-to-conceive couples.
The sooner you want to conceive, the sooner you—and your partner!—should stop indulging in alcohol, cease smoking, and limit caffeine, Andrews says. It's not always easy to stop harmful behaviors, especially when they have become addictions. There is no shame in seeking outside help to assist you in your efforts. Ask your doctor or medical provider for a referral.
Maintain your current exercise routine to keep your blood flowing, Dr. Binkley says. But it's not a good time to begin a vigorous exercise routine when you're trying to get pregnant or during your pregnancy. Walking is always a good option.
"If a woman is overweight or underweight, she decreases her chance of conception," Vincent says. "Normal production of estrogen is increased for obese women, and abnormal hormone levels can interfere with conception. Eating snacks like nutrition bars, can help a woman's body be healthy—a healthy, well-nourished body is more likely to conceive than one that is not."
It's important to get enough sleep when you're trying to conceive. Most sleep experts agree that seven to eight hours of sleep each night is a good target for the average adult. If you are falling short of this recommendation, try setting up a bedtime routine that includes a warm bath before bed and some downtime, like reading or journaling, rather than watching television.
Eunice Kan, an acupuncturist in Burlingame, California, believes acupuncture can speed up conception by helping women relax their bodies and minds, and helps to balance hormonal issues, such as irregular cycles, painful periods, and endometriosis. "For an average healthy woman, an acupuncture treatment of one to two times a week ... is a good idea to boost fertility," Kan says.
A common herbal formula used to boost fertility is Si Wu Tang, which consists of white peony root, Chinese angelica root, Chinese foxglove (rehmannia), and Sichuan lovage root (endium). This can be taken after menstruating to help tonify the blood lost monthly and to rebalance the body, Kan says.
Before taking any herbs for conception, consult an expert and your doctor.
Erase worry from your mind. Worrying about not getting pregnant creates a negative impact on your body, Clare says. Increase your "feel good" endorphins by reading funny and inspirational stories. Enjoy your time as a couple. "Unhappiness puts a large stress on the woman's body and acts as a barrier to conception."