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Trying to Conceive | How to Get Pregnant

trying to conceive, tips
There are a number of ways a woman can increase her chances and make it more likely that she will conceive a child.
Credit: wavebreakmedia | Shutterstock

Having a child can be one of the most joyous experiences in one's life. For a woman trying to get pregnant, there are a number of ways to increase the chances and make it more likely that she will conceive a child.

Know your cycle

Before trying to get pregnant, it's important to understand exactly the best time for this to happen. The average menstrual cycle varies from 21 to 35 days long, and the amount of time before ovulation occurs differs from woman to woman. It can even be different month to month in some women. After ovulation, women have periods within 14 to 16 days.

During ovulation is when pregnancy occurs, so it's important for a woman trying to conceive to understand her ovulation cycle. Women are most fertile at ovulation and 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. There are a number of ways to keep track of the fertility window of opportunity:

Basal body temperature method

Basal body temperature is your temperature when you wake up in the morning. During ovulation, a woman's temperature rises slightly. If a woman takes her temperature every morning over several months, she'll be able to track a pattern of ovulation and know when she is most fertile. There is no baseline basal temperature, as it can vary from woman to woman. Generally speaking, a regular temperature for women is 96 to 98 degrees F (35.5 to 36.6 C), while during ovulation, it can be between 97 and 99 F (36.1 to 37.2 C). Because the basal body temperature rises only by 0.4 to 0.8 degrees at a time, women must use a very sensitive basal body thermometer. While this method doesn't tell when the egg is released, most women have ovulated within three days after the temperature spike. Basal body temperature can be affected by alcohol consumption, cigarettes, not enough sleep, and a fever or cold, so be sure to take those aspects into consideration.

Calendar method

The calendar method requires a woman to record her menstrual cycle on a calendar for roughly eight to 12 months. The first day of the period should be marked as Day 1. After marking the days in the calendar for these months, find the shortest cycle, and subtract 18 from the total number of days in that cycle. Take that number and count ahead that many days from the first day of your next cycle. That is the first day you are likely to be the most fertile in your next cycle.

To find out the last day you are most fertile, subtract 11 from the number of days in your longest cycle. Count ahead that many days from the first day of your next period and mark that day. The time between the first number and the second number is when you are most fertile.

Cervical mucus method

The cervical mucus method, or the ovulation method, requires the woman to be aware of her cervical mucus throughout the month. The hormones that control her menstrual cycle affect the kind and amount of mucus during her period. Just before ovulation, the mucus amounts are at their highest. During ovulation, the mucus is often clear and slippery. After four days, the mucus will change in amount and it becomes cloudy and sticky. A woman is most fertile at the first sign of the most mucus.

These tactics should all be used in conjunction for the most effective fertility plan. Understand that after unprotected sex, sperm can live inside of the body for up to three days and can fertilize the egg at any point during this time.

Fertility diet

Though a special diet is not required to get pregnant, it can certainly help a woman's chances. Certain nutrients can help ready your body for pregnancy, while other foods and drink can lower your chances of getting pregnant.

Caffeine has not been proven to affect a woman's ability to get pregnant, but it still should be consumed in moderation. The American Pregnancy Association notes that caffeine can block the body's ability to absorb iron and calcium, which are key nutrients for pregnant women. Before pregnancy, the menstrual cycle can strip the body of iron as well, so it's important for women trying to get pregnant to load up on iron either through meat or multivitamins.

Refined carbs should be avoided. When carbs are processed, key nutrients are stripped from the grain, including antioxidants, B vitamins, and iron — all of which boost fertility. Whole grains are much more conducive to helping the body get ready to conceive, as they contain many more nutrients than refined carbs, such as white bread, white rice and pasta. Try whole grain bread and cereal instead, and try other grains like wild rice and quinoa.

Consuming fresh vegetables and fruits can help boost a woman's chances of getting pregnant. The phytochemicals and antioxidants in colorful produce can bust the free radicals that can damage the ova and reproductive organs, as well as sperm count in men. The male sperm count definitely impacts the chances of pregnancy. To stay at an optimal sperm count, men should be of a healthy weight, keep folate levels high, stop smoking, and limit their alcohol intake. [Related: Trying to Conceive: Tips for Men]

Seafood and fish have gotten a bad rap with mercury counts, but the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can help boost the body's optimal fertility. Seafood is the best source for these kinds of essential fats, and there are many seafood types that do not contain a lot of mercury. The FDA recommends that women trying to conceive can eat up to 12 ounces a week of low-mercury seafood, like shrimp, salmon, or tilapia. Avoid tuna, swordfish, mackerel, or shark.

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