How to increase your chances of getting pregnant

When you have decided you’re ready to have a baby, there is more you can do than just stopping your birth control. 

When you have decided you’re ready to have a baby, there is more you can do than just stopping your birth control.
Getting pregnant isn’t just about planning when to have sex - although there’s no doubt that’s useful too!
Your lifestyle can have a big impact on your chances of conception, and being fit and healthy can really help you on your fertility journey. It will not only make it easier for you to conceive but means a better chance of having a healthier pregnancy.
The health of your eggs and your partner’s sperm is dependent on your lifestyle choices over a number of months, so making changes before you start trying for a baby will give you the best start.
1. Stop harmful habits
Alcohol can contribute to lack of ovulation and absence of periods which affect a woman's fertility. Many studies have shown that even light drinking can have an effect on fertility. 

Smoking is also something that can affect the chances of natural conception. Women who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems and take longer to get pregnant than non-smokers. For men, there is an association between smoking and reduced semen quality. 

2. Watch your weight
Being both underweight or overweight can hinder your chance of getting pregnant. 
Studies show that women over BMI 30 are likely to take longer to conceive and weight loss will help chances of conception. 

Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35+ can have increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a common cause of infertility. Mild weight loss would improve PCOS symptoms and significantly increase the chance of conceiving.

Similarly, being underweight (with a BMI of 19 or less) can lead to an irregular – or lack of – menstrual cycle due to hormone disruption, preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. For women who are underweight, putting on weight will improve their chance of conception.

3. Exercise
Exercise is incredibly important for general health and body function, so if you've got an active hobby or are a fan of the gym, that's great! 

Exercises like yoga and swimming can be particularly good for relieving stress, however intense exercise has been shown to have a detrimental effect on fertility. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the Emory University in Atlanta published a study which showed that women who performed high-frequency high-intensity exercise had a lower rate of fertility. So make sure you are active but don’t overdo it!

4. Soothe stress
You may feel your anxiety levels rising now that you’re trying to get pregnant—preparing for this life change is huge! But it’s actually more important than ever to keep stress in check. There are a number of studies that show that stress can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. Being stressed out is bad for guys, too, since it can affect sperm production and maturation. Plus, we all know that stress can reduce sexual desire.

5. Boost your vitamin and mineral intake
Now’s the time to start taking a multivitamin, if you don’t already. Not only do you need folic acid to prevent neural tube, heart and limb defects, which can form in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but studies have also shown that women who are iron deficient may experience poor egg quality and even stop ovulating. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also result in irregular ovulation, and a vitamin D deficiency can interfere with hormone balance. Vitamin C can improve hormone levels, and selenium is also important, as it helps protect the egg and sperm from free-radical damage.

6. Have more sex! 
Although it's important to know when you are ovulating and to have sex during this period, put simply, having more sex will increase your chances of getting pregnant. 

Putting it in the diary can take make it seem like a chore and can place unnecessary pressure on you and your partner. To optimise your chance of conceiving, aim to have sex around every 2-3 days. Enjoy – and don't forget to have fun!

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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