A typical healthy couple in their child-bearing years has a 20-40% chance of getting pregnant during any given month. This means, of course, that the odds of not conceiving are as high as 60-80%. If you are trying to conceive, those odds may not sound encouraging. The good news is, there are things you can do this month to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
- Determine your fertile window. A woman’s fertile window is the days leading up to, and including, ovulation. During a textbook 28 day cycle, a woman will typically ovulate around the 14th day. If your cycle isn’t so regular, though, you will have to look for other signs of impending ovulation. You can also use an ovulation calculator to determine the best time.
First, pay attention to your cervical mucus, or discharge. In the days leading up to ovulation, the mucus will grow thick and stretchy. As ovulation grows closer, the mucus becomes clearer and wetter. This mucus is beneficial for sperm, helping to carry it safely to the egg.
If your bodily signs and symptoms of ovulation aren’t as clear or your cycles are irregular, pick up an ovulation predictor kit. These kits will give a positive result when ovulation is about 24-36 hours away.
- Have timely intercourse. Once you have determined when you will be most fertile, you can plan intercourse accordingly. The optimal time for intercourse is 1-2 days before ovulation. In general, it takes about 12 hours for sperm to travel all the way to the egg so it’s best to start them on their journey a day or two in advance of ovulation. An egg only lives for about 12 hours once it has been released so you want the sperm to be waiting.
Sperm, on the other hand, can live for up to five days in healthy cervical mucus so it is advantageous to begin having baby-making sex five days prior to ovulation. For the greatest chance of conception, have sex every other day up to, and including, ovulation day.
- Relax and enjoy your partner. Studies have shown that the longer a man is aroused before ejaculation, the better his sperm production will be. Therefore, conception is much more likely when both partners have a relaxed and fulfilling sexual experience. Try to turn off thoughts of baby-making and focus solely on your partner. Foreplay is crucial here so take things slowly.
- Let your orgasm come last. It is believed that delaying the female orgasm until after her partner has ejaculated could assist with conception. This is because during orgasm, muscle contractions may propel semen up through the vaginal canal and past the cervix. Climaxing simultaneously with your partner is equally beneficial but achieving orgasm before he does may result in greater seminal flow-back (i.e., semen flowing out of the vagina after sex).
- Let gravity work for you. After your partner has ejaculated inside of you, remain lying down on your back for 15-20 minutes. This allows the sperm to travel without having to fight against the pull of gravity which would occur by standing up. Consider placing a pillow under your hips to maximize this effect.
Using these steps will increase the likelihood of conception and may soon allow you to join the ranks of other parents-to-be. Remember, though, that women get pregnant all the time without tracking their cycles, timing intercourse, or delaying their own orgasm. If you forget to take the ovulation predictor test, that’s okay. If you orgasm before your partner, that’s okay, too. It is better to have frequent, fulfilling sex than to get hung up on a detail or two that could ultimately leave you and your partner frustrated.