Trying to Conceive

Conception seems like a little miracle, but there are several known factors that influence whether you get pregnant or get your period any given month. Your age, menstrual cycle quirks, and even your stress levels all play a role in your ability to conceive.

If you want to get pregnant, it's helpful to know how your period patterns or lifestyle choices may affect your fertility. Better understanding your reproductive system can also make you more in tune with your health in general. Learn things you can do to increase your chances of conceiving when the timing is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I increase my chances of getting pregnant?

    First, plan a preconception visit to an OBGYN who can advise you about discontinuing birth control and charting your menstrual cycle. Starting a fertility calendar and sharing it with your healthcare provider can help you both understand when you are ovulating (usually about halfway between your periods). Having sex every day or two during your fertile window—the period five days before you ovulate and one day after—increases your chances of getting pregnant. If you have irregular periods or are unsure when you ovulate, have sex at least every two or three days if possible.

  • What should you not do when trying to conceive?

    Don't smoke. Research shows women who smoke are 60% more likely to have infertility than non-smokers. Cigarette smoke may affect male fertility too by reducing sperm count. Avoid too much caffeine. One or two cups of coffee a day is fine, but more than five is linked to reduced fertility. When having sex, lay off certain lubricants: K-Y Jelly, olive oil, and even saliva keep sperm from moving efficiently in the female reproductive tract. Instead, use a lubricant that is labeled fertility-friendly, or ask a healthcare provider for suggestions.

  • What pills can I take to fall pregnant fast?

    No magic pill makes you get pregnant. There's little evidence that any vitamin or herb improves fertility. Some supplements may actually harm your health, so don't take any without talking to your healthcare provider first. If you are struggling to conceive after six months or a year, you can see a fertility specialist, who may prescribe Clomid (clomiphene) if you infrequently or never ovulate. Clomid is a common fertility drug that can stimulate regular ovulation, allowing you to more easily time sex when you are most fertile. It's important to note that Clomid will only help if the issue is female ovulation.

  • How do I know if I am fertile enough to get pregnant?

    In general, the older you get, the lower your chances of getting pregnant, because both the quantity and quality of your eggs dip. One in five people in their 30s successfully conceive when trying to get pregnant, but just one in 20 people in their 40s are able to. However, if you are a healthy, regularly ovulating person who's still at least five to 10 years away from menopause, pregnancy is a possibility. An OBGYN or fertility specialist can talk with you and examine you to better assess—and provide guidance for improving—your reproductive health.

  • Is it OK to pee after trying to concieve?

    Most folks assigned female at birth (AFAB) know to pee after sex to prevent a UTI. If you're trying to get pregnant, however, urinating after sex will not harm your chances. It's important to remember that when you're having baby-making sex, sperm is ejaculated near the cervix. Sperm move quickly, so despite the effects of gravity, they will still reach your uterus and fallopian tube even if you pee after sex. In addition, because of your anatomy, the urethra does not exit near the vaginal canal, so it's highly unlikely that urine or seminal fluid will mix.

  • What is the fastest way to get pregnant?

    The fastest way to get pregnant is to watch for signs of ovulation and have frequent sex around that time. Having slippery, egg-white-like cervical discharge, which has a texture that helps sperm move efficiently and survive, is one of the surest signs you are about to ovulate. Consider investing in over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which detect luteinizing hormone (LH) that surges right before you ovulate. Although evidence is limited, a review of research suggests OPKs could boost your chance of getting pregnant by up to 40%.

  • What are the signs of not being able to have a baby?

    About 80% of couples conceive within 12 months of trying, so if you aren't pregnant despite having frequent and well-timed sex for a year (or half a year, if you are over 35), you may have fertility issues. You can't conceive if you don't ovulate. Signaled by irregular periods or absent periods, anovulation is often connected to being very overweight or underweight, exercising excessively, experiencing very high stress, or having PCOS. Painful periods or pelvic pain can also be a sign of infertility. Up to 30% of conception failure is linked to male infertility, but because there are no obvious signs, it's a good idea for your male partner to get a semen analysis if you can't get pregnant after many months. Additionally, 30% of couples will not know why they can't conceive, and may not have any signs or symptoms other than not being able to get pregnant.

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