Starting your family is one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever make, and it’s normal to feel anxious about the prospect of getting pregnant. Start with a trip to your doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns. Once you get the green light, make a few simple changes to boost your fertility. Many of the things your doctor recommends for maintaining health can also help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Maintaining a body mass index between 20 and 24 can improve your ability to conceive, reports the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard University. Step up your exercise program if you need to lose a few pounds, but don’t overdo it, especially if you’re underweight already. Extreme exercise can actually diminish your fertility, according to the study. Go for a daily walk or run, swim or engage in yoga, but avoid doing more than six hours of strenuous exercise each week, says Dr. Hal Danzer, co-founder of the Southern California Reproductive Center in Los Angeles.
Hold the Drinks
Both mom and dad should avoid alcohol while trying to conceive. “Aside from inhibiting libido, alcohol lowers sperm production and function,” says Dr. Kecia Gaither, vice chairman and director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. For mom, cutting alcohol consumption not only improves fertility, but it also removes the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome for baby. Smoking also harms fertility, says Gaither, by impairing the egg’s movement through the female reproductive tract.
Eat Your Veggies
Improving your diet is one of the simplest and most effective methods for increasing fertility. Cut trans fats and simple carbs from your diet and focus instead on eating complex carbs found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, suggests the Harvard Study. Diets high in fat and processed foods seem to impair healthy egg function, Danzer says. Reduce your intake of meat but switch to whole milk products rather than low-fat dairy products.
You know stress isn’t good for your emotional well-being, but it can also affect fertility. Stress impairs ovulation, says Gaither, so do what you can to reduce it. Gaither suggests massage therapy, aromatherapy and exercise.
In the Bedroom
Have sex every day or every other day around the time of ovulation and avoid water-based lubricants, which can be toxic to sperm, says Danzer, who also advises that men should avoid going more than 10 days without ejaculating, which can reduce sperm quality.