05 Oct Trying to Conceive: 12 Tips for Women
By Cari Nierenberg, Live Science Contributor | October 29, 2014
The desire to have children can encourage some women to make healthier lifestyle choices. They may become more conscious of the foods, beverages and drugs they put into their bodies, and may set aside time to exercise.
For women who want to optimize their fertility, taking better care of their bodies is a good first step. But what else can women do to improve their odds of having a baby?
The most important advice for a woman who wants to get pregnant is to get to know her body, specifically her menstrual cycle, said Dr. Mary Ellen Pavone, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, and medical director of the IVF program at Northwestern Medicine’s Fertility and Reproductive Medicine in Chicago.
“It’s important to know how far apart her cycles are so she can more accurately time intercourse to try to get pregnant,” Pavone said.
Here are 12 tips that may help increase a healthy woman’s chances of becoming pregnant, assuming that neither she nor her partner have a known fertility problem.
Record menstrual cycle frequency
A woman who wants to have a baby should monitor whether the first days of her period tends to come the same number of days apart every month, which is considered being regular. Conversely, her periods may be irregular, meaning her cycle lengths vary from month to month. By tracking this information on a calendar, a woman can better predict when she might be ovulating, the time when her ovaries will release an egg every month.
A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, according to the March of Dimes. However, a man’s sperm can survive in a woman’s body for about six days, notes Planned Parenthood.
Women with regular cycles generally ovulate two weeks before the arrival of their periods, Pavone said. It’s harder to predict ovulation in women with irregular cycles, but it usually occurs 12 to 16 days before the start of the woman’s next period.
There are several methods women can use to help determine their most fertile days each month.
Home ovulation-prediction kits can take some of the guesswork out of finding when a woman is ovulating. They’re good to use for this purpose, Pavone said, but she suggested reading the instructions before using the products, since each kit can be a little different.
Sold at drug stores, the kits test urine for luteinizing hormone, a substance whose levels increase each month during ovulation and cause the ovaries to release an egg. The three days right after a positive test result are the best time for couples to have sex to increase their odds of becoming pregnant, reports the American Pregnancy Association.
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