USC Fertility


DIY: How to improve your chances of getting pregnant

At USC Fertility, we provide our patients with information that will help them to give birth to healthy babies. If you’re looking to get pregnant, here are a few tips that can increase your chances of success…

First, you need to be aware of the “fertile window” – the 6-day-long period during your menstrual cycle that ends 24 hours after the time of ovulation. Intercourse is most likely to lead to a pregnancy when it occurs in the three day period ending on the day of ovulation. Therefore, figuring out what time of the month you typically ovulate is very important.

In women with regular menstrual cycles, monitoring for ovulation is important but may not be totally necessary every month. You can monitor your cycles to find out when you typically ovulate utilizing several methods, including cervical mucus testing or basal body temperature levels.

However, the easiest and least time consuming method is to use urine ovulation kits. These kits test for something called “the LH surge” which precedes ovulation. When the kit tests positive, you will ovulate sometime in the next 2 days. Once you have established the interval of time in which you typically ovulate, in future months you can plan to have intercourse during the fertile window, focusing on the three day period before ovulation. If you are having intercourse during the fertile window, focusing on the few days before ovulation, it is unclear if continuing to test for ovulation each month enhances your chance for pregnancy. Pregnancy rates are similar whether you have intercourse every day or every other day.

Now, for those women whose menstrual cycles are of variable lengths (meaning the day of ovulation changes every month) checking for ovulation can be more of a challenge. In addition to checking for ovulation, the chances for pregnancy can be optimized by increasing the frequency of intercourse soon after your period stops. Just be sure to consult a physician if your cycles are very irregular and the length is greater than 35 days or shorter than 21 days.

There are also some “myths” involved in DIY pregnancy. For instance, there is no evidence that either lying flat or elevating your legs for an extended period of time after intercourse will improve your chances of getting pregnant. This is because sperm is found in the cervical canal within seconds of intercourse and are thought to travel into the fallopian tubes in under two minutes. There is also no evidence that positioning during intercourse affects your chances for pregnancy.

If you are using lubricants during intercourse you need to make sure you are using one that doesn’t impair sperm motility. Consider avoiding KY Jelly®, Astroglide®, olive oil and even saliva as they have all been shown to inhibit sperm motility even in small amounts. However, mineral oil, canola oil and a lubricant named Pre-Seed® have not been shown to negatively impact sperm.

And finally, treat your body like the temple it is. Optimize your lifestyle by stopping smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to the time before your fertile window, and minimizing caffeine intake.

While none of these tips are guaranteed to help you get pregnant, all have been proven to improve your chances. Good luck, and I’ll see you at the clinic!

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