How to Get Pregnant for Beginners

A Complete Guide to Trying to Conceive (TTC)

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As long as your fertility is good, learning how to get pregnant should be easier than you think! You need to stop using contraceptives and have sex three to four times a week. You’re likely to get pregnant within a few months of trying. However, there are ways to improve your odds of getting pregnant quickly. All you need to know is below!

Note: This is a guide on how to get pregnant for beginners.

If you've been trying to conceive for more than six months to a year, or you've been diagnosed with infertility, you might prefer to read this article: How to Have a Baby When You've Been Trying for Awhile

Step 1: Make Sure You're In Good Health

Before you think about getting pregnant, you should do what you can to get healthier. Not only will a healthier you increase the chances of getting pregnant, it'll also increase the possibility of having a healthy pregnancy.

Things you can do to get healthier include…

Losing extra weight (or gaining weight, if you're underweight): Research has found that those who are over or underweight may take longer to get pregnant. In fact, obesity is a common cause of preventable infertility in women.

Choosing a healthier diet: Studies on diet and fertility are far from conclusive, but it does appear that what we eat may make a difference when trying to conceive.

For example, one study found that men who had high intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, energy drinks, and simple carbohydrates (like white bread instead of brown rice) had fewer good swimming sperm (motility) than men who ate healthier diets. 

Cutting back on caffeine: Caffeine is another unclear topic when it comes to fertility.

Some caffeine is fine and likely won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant quickly. However, drinking more than 200 mg per day may not be a great idea. To stay under 200 mg, stick to one cup of coffee, instead of two.

Starting a fertility-friendly exercise routine: The vast majority of people don’t exercise enough. But some do over-exercise, and this can cause fertility problems. What’s too much? Over seven hours of aerobic-like activity a week has been shown to negatively impact female fertility.

Quitting smoking: Smoking has been shown to decrease fertility in both men and women. Men who smoke may in fact even cause decreased fertility in their partner, via secondhand smoke. The good news is that fertility may improve just a few months after they quit.

Cutting back on excess alcohol: Whether or not you should drink when trying to get pregnant is a touchy topic. You can’t drink when you are pregnant, but can it hurt to drink when you’re just trying? It’s debatable. Abstaining is best, but an occasional glass of wine likely won’t hurt.

Step 2: Stop Birth Control and Get Your Annual Exam

You should see your doctor to ask about discontinuing birth control and for your annual exam. This one may seem obvious, but it's a key step.

Depending on what form of birth control you've been using, this may be easy or involve more planning.

Ask your doctor how long it'll take for your fertility return. In some cases, it'll be right away. In others, you may need to wait a couple months. If you were getting the “birth control shot” (DepoProvera), you may need to wait quite some time for your fertility to return.

While you’re talking to your doctor, mention any possible symptoms or risk factors you may have. Be sure to also tell you him what medications you and your partner are currently taking, to find out if any of them could interfere with your fertility or be unsafe to use while trying to conceive.

Step 3: Learn How to Detect Ovulation

To increase the chances of getting pregnant, you'll want to time sex for conception. This means you'll need to have sex before you ovulate. The best days to conceive are the two to three days prior to ovulation, but for good measure, you should also have sex on the day of ovulation and the day after.

How can you know when you're ovulating? There are many different methods for detecting ovulation, some simple and some more complicated. Some of your options include:

Choose the method that works best for your lifestyle and your body.

Does timing sex for conception stress you out? Then don’t bother. If you have sex three to four times a week, you’ll likely have sex on one of your fertile days without “trying.”

Step 4: Have Passionate, Baby-Making Sex Often

Aiming for ovulation isn't the only thing you can do to increase your chances for pregnancy. Having sex often (to keep sperm healthy) and using the right lubricants can help as well.

You may have heard that particular intercourse positions or lying on your back after sex can help. That's debatable, but it's still something to consider.

And did you know that having pleasurable sex may increase your chances for conception? That said, don’t feel like this means you have to have an orgasm. It’s entirely possible to get pregnant without (female) climax during sex.

Step 5: Take a Pregnancy Test When Your Period Is Late

When your period is late, you can consider taking a pregnancy test. Hopefully you’ll get a positive result sooner than you expect, but keep in mind that only 38 percent of couples get pregnant their first month trying. (This only includes couples who are actively tracking ovulation, so for those who aren't, it may take a little longer.)

How about those early pregnancy tests? Should try those? Be careful. First of all, you can be pregnant and get a negative result on an early test. This can be disappointing, and all for nothing.

Secondly, taking early tests can be addicting. It’s best if you resist early pregnancy testing and wait until you’re at least one day past your expected period.

Step 6: Be Patient

It's normal to hope for a positive pregnancy test the very first month you start trying to conceive. However, as mentioned above, just 38 percent of couples conceive their first month of trying.

Don't get disappointed yet, though. In that same study, 68 percent were pregnant after three months, and 92 percent by 12 months of trying. Getting pregnant may not happen as quickly as you'd like, but for most couples, it'll happen in time.

A Word From Verywell

Try not to stress about getting pregnant quickly. However, if it takes longer than it should, don’t delay getting help.

How long should you try before seeing your doctor? If you’re age 35 or older, you should get help after six months of trying. (This is because fertility starts to decline more rapidly at this age, and the sooner you get help, the better.) If you’re under 35, you can try for a year and then see a doctor.

An informal survey conducted by Conceive Magazine and Fertility LifeLines found that while 62 percent of women surveyed had been trying for more than a year, one-third of them had not yet sought help. Especially for women after age 35, delaying treatment can decrease the chance for success. Even for women younger than 35, some causes of infertility worsen with time.

If you're not sure if you want to pursue fertility treatment just yet, you and your partner can get tested now and (hopefully) find out what the problem is. Then, you can discuss with your doctor if trying on your own for another year would be okay, or if your chances for successful treatment are rapidly declining.

Sources:

Gnoth C, Godehardt D, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Freundl G. "Time to pregnancy: results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility." Human Reproduction. 2003 Sep; 18(9):1959-66.

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