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Have you reached a point in your life when you’re ready to welcome a new family member? “Conceiving a child may be more difficult than you expect but there is a number of things that you can do to optimise the possibility of becoming pregnant,” says Dr. Sean Burnet from Specialist Clinics of Australia in Sydney.

The first thing that you should do is to consult a healthcare provider who will help you understand the impact of your lifestyle on your fertility. Considering that some lifestyle choices have cumulative effects that impair achieving pregnancy, modifying behaviours can significantly improve your fertility potential.

How quickly will I become pregnant?

Once you decide that you’re ready to have a baby, it might take some time before you become pregnant. When you start trying for a baby, most pregnancies occur during the first 6 menstrual cycles.

The chance of you achieving pregnancy decreases as the number of months without becoming pregnant increase:

  • The first 6 months result with approximately 80% of couples conceiving
  • In the first 12 months this number drops to 85%
  • In the next 36 months about 50% of couples naturally conceive
  • After 48 months, only 5-7% of couples conceive spontaneously

What is the best time during my cycle to try to become pregnant?

“The chances of you becoming pregnant are governed by your menstrual cycle and the fertile window last approximately 6 days, including 5 days prior to ovulation as well as the ovulation day,” says Dr. Burnet. “However, it’s important to be aware that it’s a rule of thumb as the duration of the fertile period is individual and it varies from between women,” he adds.

It is most likely that you will conceive when intercourse takes place on the day of ovulation as well as 1-2 days prior to it. There is a number of ways to predict the ovulation day, and you can:

  • Track changes in cervical mucus. The highest probability of conception is on the day when you peak producing clear and slippery mucus.
  • Use a kit measuring urinary luteinizing hormone (LH).

How often should intercourse take place?

If you’re determined to become pregnant, you should consider that regular intercourse is necessary, so both of you can be at the peak of your reproductivity. According to the statistics, the highest pregnancy rates are among couples that have intercourse every 1-2 days. The minimal frequency involves 2-3 times per week beginning with the cessation of menses.

This frequency should ensure that intercourse takes place during the fertile window and that semen is of good quality, which occurs when there are 2-3 days of ejaculatory abstinence. Watch out as longer intervals lead to lower pregnancy rates.

Can lubricants affect my becoming pregnant?

Although compelling data regarding the use of lubricants does not exist, we know that some lubricants can inhibit sperm mobility in vitro.

For this reason, you should choose lubricants that do not interfere with sperm mobility, such as:

  • Mineral oil
  • Canola oil
  • Mustard oil
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose-based products

Does female orgasm affect pregnancy?

Female orgasm is for pure pleasure and relaxation and it has nothing to do with the probability of conception.

When trying to become pregnant, women should not worry whether they climaxed or not. Also, coital position after male ejaculation does not affect the possibility of conception either.

Is my age important when trying to become pregnant?

You should consider your age in family planning as delaying becoming pregnant can decrease the probability of successful conception.

Women are most fertile until their late 20s. Although this is not set in stone, female fertility decreases after the cross over into 30s with a significant change by the end of this decade:

  • 19 – 26 years – 50% probability of becoming pregnant
  • 27 – 34 years – 40 % probability of becoming pregnant
  • 35 – 39 years – 30 % probability of becoming pregnant

Do lifestyle choices affect our fertility?

Your fertility is often connected with your overall health and lifestyle choices that you’ve made along the way. Although large-scale clinical trials examining direct influence of certain factors on fertility do not exist, observational studies point to some factors, such as:

  1. Smoking cigarettes. The use of tobacco has been linked to female subfertility and may be responsible for 13% of cases. The good news is that subfertility caused through smoking is reversible and your fertility may improve with a year of cessation smoking.
  2. Body mass index (BMI). Your BMI has a significant influence on your health overall, including your fertility. Obese and underweight women are at a higher risk of subfertility as well as other health problems. In order to optimise your fertility, it is best to keep your BMI within 18.5 to 25 kg/m2, which is the limit associated with little or no health risks.
  3. Exercise. When living in the world, which puts a lot of emphasis upon a lean body and active lifestyle, you should be aware that too much exercise might sabotage your pregnancy plans. Vigorous physical activity should be limited to less than 5 hours per week.
  4. Alcohol. You should limit your alcohol intake when attempting to become pregnant. Although it is hard to say what influence minimal alcohol consumption has on your fertility, it is known that moderate alcohol consumption should be avoided when you’re trying to get pregnant. Also, by drinking alcohol during this time, you’re already putting the foetus at risk.
  5. Diet. When both of you are healthy, there is no particular advice regarding the appropriate diet as there is no sufficient evidence that dietary variations such as vegetarian diets, low-fat diets, vitamin or antioxidant-enriched diets affect fertility.
  6. Caffeine. Although there is no sufficient study regarding the influence of caffeine intake on the female fertility, it is suggested that you should limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day during the time when you’re trying to conceive.
  7. Stress. The influence of stress on your fertility is based only on observational studies, which suggest that there is a clear association between the two. Although no clinical studies proved that reducing stress can improve the chances of conception, lowering levels of anxiety and tension will benefit your overall health.

“Realising that the above factors have influence over your fertility will help you consciously approach the subject. However, there’s nothing better than professional care from day one and you should turn to a doctor as soon as you decide that you’re ready to become a parent,” says Dr Burnet.

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