What Not to Do if You Want to Get Pregnant

Habits and Practices to Avoid When Trying to Conceive

Couple holding hands while kissing, wanting to get pregnant
If you want to get pregnant, it's just as important to know what NOT to do as it is to know what TO do. Jamie Grill / The Image Bank / Getty Images

So, you want to get pregnant. Actually, you want to be pregnant right now. Just as there are things you can do to improve your odds of conception, there are also things you should not do. 

Here are six things you shouldn't do when trying to conceive. Some of them may surprise you!

Do Not Only Have Sex When You're Ovulating

You may already know that you're most fertile during the two days before and day of ovulation.

A variety of methods exist for pinpointing the ovulation period, including using ovulation predictor kits, charting your body basal temperature, or checking cervical mucus changes.

However, this doesn't mean you should only have sex when you're ovulating.

Research has found that frequent sex makes for healthier sperm. The sex you have before you're fertile may boost your chances of getting good swimmers when it counts.

Even after ovulation, sex may improve your chances of getting pregnant. The theory is that semen may play a role in embryo development and implantation.

Another very good reason to have sex all month and not just when you're ovulating: it reduces stress for your partner.

One study found increased levels of erectile dysfunction and even increased martial affairs in couples who focus on timed intercourse instead of just having sex regularly.

For some men, the pressure to perform during ovulation is too intense.

If timed sex is hurting your relationship, forget about it. Just try to have sex about three times a week, all month long, instead.

Do Not Ignore the Importance of Passion and Fun

Getting pregnant isn't about passionate sex; it's just about intercourse, right?

Well, it's not quite so simple.

Pleasurable sex may make it more likely you'll conceive than "quickie" sex.

According to a few research studies, lengthier foreplay was found to increase the quantity of sperm. Increased sexual arousal was also found to increase sperm concentrations.

For the woman, foreplay often means more cervical fluids. Cervical fluids are essential in helping the sperm swim and survive the vaginal environment.

Longer foreplay may also increase the chances of female orgasm, another possible boost to conception.

Does this mean having sex when you're not in the mood won't lead to pregnancy? Of course not!

Quickies often lead to conception. As many couples who have had timed intercourse via doctor's orders during fertility treatment can tell you, even sex under stress leads to pregnancy.

However, passion and fun—if you can find the energy for it—may boost your odds. Plus, it'll make the entire experience less stressful.

Do Not Use Personal Lubricants like Astroglide or KY Jelly

Sex is more comfortable and more pleasurable when you're well lubricated!

While sometimes the body provides great lubrication (especially around the time of ovulation), other times you need some help.

However, do not reach for the typical lubricants found at your local pharmacy, like Astroglide or KY Jelly. (Unless they are special formulations for fertility.)

Studies have found that many lubricants are harmful to sperm.

The good news is there are fertility-friendly options to try.

Do Not Use Vaginal Douche Products

Vaginal douches are squirt bottles or bags with an attached tube used to "rinse" the vagina by squirting fluid up and into the vaginal canal. They are usually a mixture of water and vinegar and frequently contain perfumes meant to cover up natural (and healthy!) vaginal scents.

About 20 to 40 percent of women use "vaginal hygiene" douche products. If you're a douche user and you're trying to get pregnant, you should seriously consider dropping the habit.

According to one study, women who used vaginal douches were 30 percent less likely to conceive in any given month when compared to women who don't douche.

Douching has other negative health implications as well, including higher risk of vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy.

If you're douching because your vaginal odors are particularly pungent or have a strong fishy smell, see your doctor.

Unpleasant vaginal odors could be a sign of vaginal infection. (Infection can also be a cause of decreased fertility.)

It's also wise to avoid scented tampons, pads, vaginal sprays, and powders. They may cause irritation that can lead to infection. (Whether scented tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products affect fertility hasn't been well research yet.)

Do Not Ignore Your Overall Health

Paying attention to your overall health is important. Our body's systems don't work independently of each other, and you may be surprised at what can impact your reproductive health.

For example, gum disease is associated with decreased male fertility. Who would have thought?

Some unhealthy habits that may impact your fertility include...

Are you over or underweight? Either direction can impact your fertility.

You will want to aim for a healthy weight if you're trying to get pregnant.

Do Not Wait a Long Time to Seek Help with Trying to Conceive

How soon you'll conceive is dependent on a number of factors. Most of them out of your control.

If you don't get pregnant in the first month, take heart: less than 40 percent of couples do.

On the other hand, 81 percent of couples conceive after six months.

If you've been trying for six months and you're over 35—or you've been trying for a year and you're under 35 years of age—then you should see your doctor.

Please don't delay. One survey of trying to conceive couples found that while 62 percent of women had been trying for longer than a year, only two in three had sought help.

Some forms of infertility worsen with time. Delaying treatment may make significantly lower your potential for pregnancy success.

Age is also a factor, and this is why women over age 35 should only try for six months before seeking help.

Sometimes people delay seeking treatment because they assume treatment is unattainable, usually due to lack of funds. Not all fertility treatments are expensive. It's possible what you need to get pregnant will turn out to be something affordable and within your budget.

Some couples don't seek fertility help because they don't want to do IVF. But a small percentage of infertile couples will need IVF to conceive.

The only way to find out, however, is to see your doctor and go through fertility testing.

If recommended treatments do end up going past your budget, then you can choose not to pursue them.

Another thing you shouldn't do when trying to conceive—don't ignore worrisome symptoms.

Do you get really bad cramps? Experience pain during sexual intercourse? Have irregular cycles? These are things you should talk to your doctor about as soon as possible. They could signal a fertility problem.

Sources:

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Baker, R. Robin, Bellis, Mark A. "Human Sperm Competition: ejaculate manipulation by females and a function for the female orgasm." Animal Behavior. 1993, 46, 887-909.

Cottrell BH. "An updated review of of evidence to discourage douching." MCN. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 2010 Mar-Apr;35(2):102-7; quiz 108-9.

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Tremellen KP, Valbuena D, Landeras J, Ballesteros A, Martinez J, Mendoza S, Norman RJ, Robertson SA, Simón C. "The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction." Human Reproduction. 2000 Dec;15(12):2653-8.

van Roijen JH, Slob AK, Gianotten WL, Dohle GR, van der Zon AT, Vreeburg JT, Weber RF. "Sexual arousal and the quality of semen produced by masturbation." Human Reproduction. 1996 Jan;11(1):147-51.

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