How to Get Pregnant: For Gals and Guys

It takes two to be fertile. Here’s what you and your partner can do to boost your chances of conceiving, naturally.

For Women

Know When Your Egg Is Ready

Check your cervical mucus. You are most fertile five days before and one day after ovulation. When your cervical mucus turns thin and clear, ovulation is about to begin. (Thin mucus makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg.) Periodically wipe your vaginal area with a tissue: If the secretion is stretchy and looks like egg white, the getting is good for getting pregnant.

Make sure that you’re actually ovulating.
To do that, buy an ovulation test kit at the drugstore. Like a pregnancy test kit, it requires only a urine sample. If the test kit fails to indicate ovulation during three months of use, see your doctor.

Trim Down—or Bulk Up

If you have some weight to shed, your desire to conceive should be a real motivator. Body fat can produce estrogen, and if your estrogen level is too high, it can throw off your ability to conceive.

Being too thin is another cause of infertility in women. Without enough body fat, you may not ovulate normally, or your uterus may be unable to accept implantation of a fertilized egg. If you worry that you’re too thin to conceive, add more healthy calories to your diet—lean protein, whole-grain foods, and beneficial oils such as olive oil. 

Take It Easy

If you’re already making lots of physical demands on your body, it may be less capable of “accepting” the demands of pregnancy. In particular, exercising for more than an hour a day can interfere with ovulation. If you usually exercise strenuously, take it down a notch. 

Go easy on your work schedule. Research shows that women who work at a hectic pace in stressful jobs have trouble getting pregnant. Set reasonable work goals, and try to leave office stress behind when you head home. Consider meditation or yoga as a way of keeping stress in check.

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Try to avoid antihistamines and decongestants. The drugs are designed to reduce the amount of mucus in your sinuses, but they affect your cervical mucus as well. And you need that mucus to help sperm reach the egg.

Also skip ibuprofen when you’re trying to get pregnant. These painkillers can interfere with ovulation and prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of your uterus. For pain relief, try acetylsalicylic acid or acetaminophen.

Herbal Insurance

Take chasteberry each morning at a dose of 175 milligrams in capsule form or 40 drops of tincture. This herb, which is said to mimic the effects of the female hormone progesterone, helps regulate the menstrual cycle. That can make ovulation a bit more predictable. Chasteberry also contains substances that strengthen the uterine lining. As soon as you think you might be pregnant, stop taking it. 

Each day, take 5 to 15 drops of tincture of false unicorn root. Regular use of this estrogen-like herb can make your menstrual cycle more regular—especially if your estrogen levels have begun to ebb.

For Men

Stock Up on Sperm

Say no to sex for a few days before your partner begins to ovulate. You want to inseminate her with the maximum possible number of sperm; the longer it’s been since your last ejaculation, the greater that number will be. 

Wear boxers instead of briefs.
Snug-fitting underwear traps heat, and too much heat reduces the number of healthy sperm produced by the testicles. Ditto for tight denim. So if you’ve got fatherhood in mind, keep things loose. And skip hot baths and steam rooms. Take Baby-Making Supplements Each day, take 30 milligrams of zinc. The mineral boosts your testosterone level, increases your sperm count, and helps give sperm a little extra oomph. Because zinc interferes with your body’s absorption of copper, also take 2 milligrams of copper per day if you’re taking zinc. 

Protect your sperm with antioxidants in the form of 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day and 400 IU of vitamin E twice a day. Vitamins C and E help protect sperm by blocking the action of free radicals, rogue oxygen molecules that cause cell damage throughout the body. If you’re taking an anticoagulant or another drug that interferes with blood clotting, talk to your doctor before taking vitamin E.

Take selenium. Studies suggest that men who take 100 micrograms a day for three months experience a marked increase in sperm motility (swimming ability), although there seems to be no effect on sperm count.
Try pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of a pine tree that grows along the coast of southwestern France. A potent antioxidant, it may improve the health of sperm in men with fertility problems. One recent study found that men with fertility problems who took 200 milligrams of pycnogenol daily for three months significantly improved the quality and function of their sperm. Pycnogenol is sold as an over-the-counter supplement in drugstores.

Consider taking a daily dose of flaxseed oil. There’s some preliminary evidence that this oil, an excellent source of essential fatty acids, can help keep sperm healthy. Even if it doesn’t boost your fertility, it will work to lower your cholesterol and help protect against heart disease. Take one tablespoon a day with food. You can mix it into juice, yogurt, or anything else.

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