Maybe you are trying to get pregnant or maybe you are not trying to not get pregnant anymore. Keep in mind, on average a totally normal, fertile couple having intercourse on the "right" day will get pregnant only one out of four times of trying. If it doesn't happen the first couple of tries, it doesn't mean it won't.
If you haven't conceived within a year of trying, it may be a good time to talk with a gynecologist. You should call sooner if:
- Your period is quite irregular
- The woman is over 35 and you have tried for 6 months without success
- There is reason to suspect a problem with sperm such as a history of chemotherapy, serious genital injury or surgery.
In the meantime, there are some simple things you can try to help improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications
If either of you are taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication, you may want to let your primary care provider know you are thinking about starting a family. Some medications can affect fertility and some may even be harmful to the baby. Your primary care provider can offer information about what medications may need to be stopped or changed.
Some supplements and herbal remedies can also affect fertility. Your primary healthcare provider can help determine which ones can potentially be problematic. These supplements are recommended:
- A multivitamin with minerals for men. B vitamins, vitamins C and E, copper and zinc are all involved with sperm production.
- A multivitamin that contains folic acid for women. Prenatal vitamins are fine, but not necessary.
There are also some lifestyle choices to think about.
- Eat a healthy diet with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Keep a healthy weight. Underweight or overweight women can have trouble conceiving. Overweight men could have lower sperm counts.
- Exercise in moderation. For example, marathon-level training inhibits ovulation for women, even if they are not underweight. Certain bike seats can cause temporary fertility problems for men who are avid bicyclists.
- Drink in moderation. For men, that means 0-1 drink daily. Significant daily drinking can lower testosterone and affect sperm production, among other things. Women should only drink occasionally, at least after ovulation. The biggest concern is the effects on the fetus.
- Avoid tobacco use. It affects the fertility in both partners. For women, it can also slow the time to conception, increase miscarriage rates and is associated with earlier menopause.
- Drink caffeinated beverages in moderation. Women should drink less than two caffeinated beverages a day. Men can drink a little more, but more than six caffeinated beverages daily can have health effects.
- Avoid very hot baths or saunas. Very hot working conditions can also affect fertility.
- Boxers or briefs? Your choice... it doesn't matter.
- Try not to stress about getting pregnant. Find a healthy way to deal with stress such as couple time or time for yourself.
When to try to conceive
Ovulation is about two weeks before the next period. Fertile time is several days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. If a woman notices a clear mucus discharge, it indicates the fertile time. Avoid lubricants since almost all are sperm-toxic.
Other methods help a woman understand her body better and determine the signs that indicate it is a fertile time. They include:
- Cervical Mucus Method
- Basal Body Temperature Method
- Calendar Method
For more information about fertility issues, contact your primary healthcare provider or call Gundersen Fertility Center at (608) 775-2306 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 52306.