“I want to be pregnant. What can I do to improve my chances?”
There are definitely some simple things you can do to make your odds better.
Smoking by either partner dramatically reduces your chances. If one partner smokes, the odds are decreased by one-third. If both partners smoke, your odds are cut in half. If you need to, go ahead and use a nicotine source other than cigarettes. It is not the nicotine that causes the problems, it is the heavy metals in the cigarette smoke.
You don’t have to totally abstain from alcohol or caffeine. But be moderate! A glass or two of wine a week won’t hurt anything. Neither will a cup of coffee in the morning.
Diet and weight are important
Eat a healthy diet. There is good evidence that a Mediterranean-type diet improves chances of success compared to the typical high carbohydrate American diet. Try to get your BMI (Body Mass Index) in the ideal range of less than 25. Obesity has a very negative impact, reducing your chances by as much as 50% in some studies. Minimize carbohydrates and avoid highly processed foods. If you eat meat, make sure it is organic to avoid the hormones often found in meat.
There are a multitude of supplements available, and it is hard to know which are helpful and which are not. One can spend a small fortune just on supplements that purport to help. We recommend three: CoQ10 (200-300 mg/day for both men and women), turmeric (1000-1500 mgs/day), and melatonin (5mgs at bedtime). These three are all potent anti-inflammatory agents. These are readily available and we consider them helpful.
Much easier said than done. We all have stress. It seems to be an integral part of modern life. Try to find something to help you manage the stress. Meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga, and even acupuncture are good options. It doesn’t matter which you choose – just find something that gives you at least a few minutes of peace and relaxation each day.
Know your cycles
The ideal menstrual cycle is 28 days, and significant deviations from this length may make it much harder to conceive. Keep track of your cycles for a few months – maybe even use ovulation predictor kits to help pinpoint ovulation. Keep a record of this for review by your physician.
The optimal timing for intercourse in the peri-ovulatory part of the cycle is every other day.
Contact your physician
When you are worried that it may be taking too long to conceive, contact your physician. You don’t have to have been trying for over a year! If you are worried, call. Your provider will be glad to talk with you, provide some guidance and reassurance, and suggest some initial evaluation.