How easy is it to get pregnant? This is your ultimate ‘I want to get pregnant’ guide with everything you need to know to make that baby happen…
After spending more than a decade out of school pursuing that career that you have long dreamed of, you have attained the professional success that you have been chasing all this time.
A generous salary, a semi-important title, and a clear path up the corporate ladder: by all accounts, you should be happy.
However, you can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing, until you have a moment of clarity one night at 3 am: kids!
You’ve always wanted to raise a family of your own, but you got lost in your own professional ambition (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course), but now you’re 32; not exactly running out of time, but who knows really?
After saying to your husband, “I want to get pregnant” on some random Tuesday night, you and your husband attempt to get started on baby number one, only to come up empty after months of trying.
What now? While you could panic, it is far more productive to bust through the roadblocks to fertility so that you can diagnose what exactly is kinking your hose.
How easy is it to get pregnant? Below, we will go through a series of steps that will help you jumpstart your very first pregnancy…
1. See a doctor before determining how easy is it to get pregnant
“I want to get pregnant” … it is a statement that begins a journey towards parenthood. For some though, the journey can be arduous and full of potentially hazardous potholes.
Before you begin to actively try to have a child, it’s best to see a doctor to see where the two of you stand in terms of fertility and overall reproductive health.
This is for your safety as a mother, as having conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes can put your health in danger due to the stressful side-effects of being pregnant (1).
It is also to ensure that a pregnancy occurs in a healthful manner for the unborn child as well, as new mothers may not be fully educated on the necessary prenatal lifestyle shifts that need to occur for a successful gestation period to take place.
In particular, ensure that the doctor prescribes or recommends that you start taking folic acid, as this vitamin goes a long way to helping ward off the possibility of your child developing spina bifida (2).
2. Track menstrual cycles
Though it may seem obvious, the best way to maximize your chance when you want to get pregnant is to figure out when you are ovulating, and then have sex during the time when you are most fertile.
Before you can do that however, you need to get an accurate idea of when that your menstrual cycles occur, though this can be tricky process for those that suffer from irregular cycles (as a result of complications stemming from PCOS or other disorders).
In order to determine this, note the day when you next have your period, and then note how far apart the first day of subsequent periods are.
If they are more or less the same, then you can proceed to the next part of the planning process.
3. Figure out when you are ovulating
The average woman ovulates approximately two weeks before the first day of her period.
While this isn’t the same for every female, the timing varies between 12 to 16 days for the vast majority of the female population.
While you can simply count backwards from the first day of your period, you can more accurately hone in on the time when you are fertile by purchasing a home ovulation prediction kit.
By urinating on the test strip, it will detect when elevated levels of luteinizing hormone are present in your system, which will indicates the time of the month when you are able to conceive.
In order to get the best results, start on the ninth day of your reproductive cycle and keep testing until you get a positive result.
When you do, have sex every second day throughout your fertile window (3). If ovulation test strips aren’t readily available in your area, a second method to determine whether you are ovulating or not is to check regularly for the development of cervical mucus.
In the days prior to ovulation, the mucus becomes thinner, more slippery and clearer in composure, which is thought to help encourage the flow of semen to the uterus.
According to studies, pregnancy is 2.3 times more likely to occur during this period of a woman’s reproductive cycle than at other times.
This is the best time to try to conceive, as a study has shown that intercourse taking place two days prior to ovulation is most likely to result in a pregnancy (4).
Make sure that you don’t forget about the time of the month when you are ready to give rise to a baby by making a note of it on your calendar, both in the kitchen and on any smart devices you have.
How easy is it to get pregnant? When you are doing it on the right days of your cycle, you’ll feel like an idiot for not knowing to do things this way beforehand.
4. Institute a regular regimen of taking prenatal vitamins
When you declare, “I want to get pregnant”, you should begin taking a daily supplement of vitamins that are known to improve the prenatal health of your unborn child.
There are slew of potential options that are recommended when taking a multivitamin, but make sure yours has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.
The reason for this has to do with the fact that folic acid has been shown to help prevent birth defects if taken one month before pregnancy (5).
Be sure to begin supplementation as soon as possible, as development of the brain and spine begins a mere three to four weeks after conception.
5. Aim to maintain a weight that is healthy for your body type
How easy is it to get pregnant when you are too heavy or light for your body type and height? It’s actually a very difficult task, as body chemistry issues surrounding both states will work against you every step of the way.
Regardless of whether it is caused by lifestyle factors, or by metabolic disorders such as PCOS that can complicate the situation, making the effort to reduce the amount of adipose that comprises your overall mass will go a long way to increasing your odds of getting pregnant.
Indeed, it has been shown that women that have a BMI in excess of 35 take twice as long in their attempts to conceive than women that are within the healthy BMI range (19-35) (6).
However, don’t go overboard in your quest to lose weight, as the fertility prognosis is even worse for those that are underweight.
Those that have a BMI of less than 19 take four times as long in their efforts to get pregnant compared to those with a healthy body composure (7).
The reasons why underweight women have a much harder time when attempting to conceive compared to their filled out counterparts is that the body moves into survival mode when body fat stores drop below a critical level.
Body resources are directed away from the reproductive system, resulting in irregular periods and the potential halting of ovulation altogether (8).
In order to begin your journey to get out of an over/underweight state, you should take a week to count the calories of every dish you normally consume.
With this sufficient data set, you can then add or subtract food to/from your meals so that you can achieve a net positive or negative calorie balance.
Take special care to not treat all calories as equals though, as this narrow-minded focus can end up robbing you of badly needed nutrients.
Clean up your diet
A common cultural meme surrounding pregnant women states that traditional rules surrounding a healthy lifestyle get tossed out the window once one decides to have a child.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, as not only what you eat effects the development of your child, but it could also impact whether you are able to conceive in the first place.
A big part of reducing excess body mass, or putting on weight in a healthy manner is to ensure that the food that is entering your body is serving your best interests and that of your future child.
Consuming too many simple carbs dullens the insulin response in your body, which can lead to a chain reaction of events that can increase the amount of free estrogen in your system.
This interferes with the process of ovulation, making your attempt to get pregnant an uphill battle (9).
How easy is it to get pregnant by eating right? Start improving your diet by choosing foods that contain plenty of calcium, protein, and iron, and you’ll find out in the months to come.
While obvious sources of calcium include dairy products like cheese and milk, you can also get this nutrient from dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and broccoli as well (10).
Lean meats are excellent sources of iron and protein, though vegetarians/vegans can get their allotment from beans and lentils (11).
While taking a supplement is a great way of getting the folic acid you need, ensure that you are getting enough of this B vitamin by eating foods that are rich in this nutrient.
Folic acid can be found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, fortified foods such as cereal and bread, and in various kinds of beans (kidney, pinto, lima and many others have plenty of this essential compound).
One thing that you should take special care in either reducing or eliminating is your consumption of caffeine.
As difficult as it might be to cut back or cut it out of your life, the fact of the matter is is that this stimulant has been proven by studies to decrease the fertile potential of women attempting to conceive if taken in heavy enough quantities (12).
According to one study, you may be able to consume less than 200mg worth of caffeine without suffering adverse effects, which is roughly equivalent to two cups per day (13).
Generally speaking, women that are hoping to conceive should draw up plans based on the edicts of the infertility diet, which focuses on eliminating or reducing lifestyle limiters that suppress their reproductive potential.
After all, if you want to become pregnant, does it not make sense to emulate those that conceive with far greater ease than you have been experiencing?
Before you begin your path down this road though, it also makes sense to go to a doctor or nutritionist to be evaluated for any deficiencies you might presently have.
Viewed through the lens of a woman that is seeking to become pregnant, they will be able to recommend specific courses of action to redress any deficits that you might currently be experiencing.
When it comes to important matters such as starting your own family before your biological clock runs out, it helps to have the advice and guidance of these professionals in your corner.
6. Dial back high-intensity workouts
While staying in shape is generally a good idea when trying to get pregnant, and it is a great way to cultivate a positive mindset during your attempts to conceive, overdoing it has the potential to backfire on well-meaning women.
They think they are doing the right thing, leading them to comment sarcastically, “How easy is it to get pregnant when I do all the ‘right’ things, while less healthy girls seem to get knocked up at the drop of a hat?”
When this occurs, hormones are released that act to inhibit the release of eggs from the ovaries. As a result of this reaction, it is prudent to dial back the intensity of your workouts during the period when you are attempting to get pregnant (14).
You can still jog around the block, but going all out like you’re training for a marathon is a bad idea for those trying to promote an optimal environment for fertility within their bodies.
If you are conducting intense workouts in an attempt to shed considerable weight, you should still dial back your efforts and focus more attention on cleaning up your diet.
Cutting back dramatically on simple carb consumption and focusing more on healthy fats (ironic, no?) and lean proteins will yield you far better results with regards to creating a leaner, more fertile body than doing death runs on a treadmill for hours on end.
A regimen that will help you shed pounds though is moderate resistance training. This will help enlarge your muscle fibers, whose cells contain almost 40 times the number of mitochondria of an adipose cell (15).
As a result, you will be able to burn excess fat with greater ease if you build up your lean muscle mass, which saves you from stressing your body and reproductive system via counterproductive overtraining.
7. Stop smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol
How easy is it to get pregnant in a healthy and safe manner when you habitually smoke cigarettes and drink heavily on the weekends? Not at all.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but if you are currently smoking cigarettes or a regular drinker, both of these habits will need to be curbed not only during pregnancy, but also during the period when you are attempting to conceive.
There are studies proving that both men and women suffer fertility problems due to the chemicals that cigarettes contain.
In particular, women have been shown to suffer a degradation in the quality of their eggs, and when they are released, problems arise when they attempt to move through the oviduct, making it difficult for the egg to make a successful union with a male’s sperm (16).
While it is abundantly clear that alcohol consumption increases the risk of birth defects and miscarriage, it is less obvious whether consuming alcohol during attempts to get pregnant has a negative effect with regards to light to moderate consumption.
It is known that alcohol consumption beyond moderate levels for males affects libido, sperm quality, as well as increasing incidents of erectile dysfunction (17).
8. Shield yourself from environmental and psychological stressors
Over the past few generations, there has been of frightening increase in the release of environmental pollutants of all kinds, many of which have infiltrated the background of our everyday lives.
How easy is it to get pregnant, when drugs are in the water, herbicides are in our vegetables and fruits, and many blindly accepted acts like putting on hair spray or bug repellant could harm us? It’s never been more difficult.
Over past few decades, studies have shown that pesticides, solvents and other everyday chemicals have a detrimental effect on the fertility and the smooth operation of reproductive systems in women and men (18).
Shielding one’s self from these pollutants is of paramount importance to couples that want to conceive their first child.
If possible, take leave from a job that puts you within close proximity of harmful chemicals while you are trying to have a baby.
If you can not do this, ask for reassignment to a department where you won’t be exposed to harmful substances that could have a negative impact on your attempts to get pregnant.
In case the prior two measures are met with failure, take every step possible to protect yourself from harmful chemicals in your work environment.
Use all personal protective equipment that grants protection from the chemicals that you are exposed to on a daily basis, and research other protocols that will allow you to keep your distance from them.
At home, wash all produce, especially those that are not certified organic, as many of these products are not adequately rinsed after being harvested from commercial farming operations.
In addition to environmental stressors, take time to diagnose any psychological and emotional pain points in your life, as the release of stress hormones such as cortisol has been shown to have negative effects on a woman’s ability to conceive over the long term (19).
It is a cruel irony that one of the bigger obstacles to becoming pregnant ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: initial efforts to conceive are met with failure, which increases stress, which in turn creates an even more hostile environment for fertility going forward.
By finding activities that enable you to truly unwind and relax (whether that’s getting together with the girls for an evening of Netflix movies, or signing up for a yoga class), you can begin to decrease the amount of cortisol circulating in your system, thereby reducing this impediment to pregnancy.
9. I want to get pregnant, what can my man do to help?
When you declare loudly and clearly to the world, “I want to get pregnant”, it shouldn’t be all on you when it comes to optimizing fertility.
Your other half needs to keep up their end of the bargain as well. How easy is it to get pregnant when your hubby is supporting your quest with his own actions? Much, much easier!
When it comes to the man in your life, there is much that he can do to increase the odds for both of you in the parenthood sweepstakes.
If your man wears tight pants, he should switch to looser fitting clothing, as the prior situation can affect sperm count due to the testicles being held close to the undercarriage of his body.
Other sources of heat/radiation such as cell phones in pockets, laptops on laps, and spending long periods of time in jacuzzi bathtubs, steam rooms and saunas also have the same effect with respect to engendering low quality sperm (20).
By making a few lifestyle adjustments (moving his smartphone to a shirt pocket, using his laptop on a desk), and by temporarily abstaining from hot baths and steam saunas during your collective attempts to have a child, he’ll be enabling the creation a favorable environment for high-quality sperm production within his testes.
Additionally, various studies suggest that men should also abstain from eating various soy products, as these foods have also been shown to affect the quantity of sperm created by the male reproductive system (21).
When it comes to foods that your guy should actively seek out, they should be rich in folate.
According to some studies, men that get a diet that is rich in this compound have been reported to have healthier sperm than those that do not (22).
An easy way to get folate is to have salads that are brimming with spinach leaves, but if he routinely turns his nose up at greens, fear not, as many of the beans used in chilis (such as garbanzo, kidney, and pinto beans) also contain large quantities of this fertility enhancing vitamin (23).
10. Fertility declines naturally as you get older
Finally, it is helpful to be realistic about your chances of getting pregnant with respect to your age. The more a woman gets past the age of 35, the harder it gets for her to achieve a viable pregnancy.
The aging process has a negative effect on the ovaries’ ability to produce quality eggs, and with the passage of time, the frequency of ovulation becomes irregular in the run up to menopause (24).
These effects start to take place when a woman reaches her thirties, with a descent in egg quality and quantity beginning after age 37 on average.
After 40, this descent becomes a steep decline, making the thirties a pivotal time for a woman to decide whether she wants to have children.
As an insurance policy, it might be a wise idea to have some eggs frozen; despite the high upfront cost, the flexibility it grants you might be worth the expense.
So, how easy is it to get pregnant?
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to improve and optimize your ability to conceive, which shows how easy is it to get pregnant.
Do not let your lack of success to date get you down, as there are always ways you can improve your fertile potential.
There are plenty of couples that go through the same trials that you are presently experiencing, so please know that you are not in this alone.
Together, we can beat whatever it is that is holding you back from starting the family that you have always wanted.