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The desire to have healthy children can encourage some women to make healthier lifestyle choices when they want to get pregnant. Women may become more conscious of the food, beverages and drugs they are putting into their bodies and set aside time to exercise.
To optimize women's fertility, taking better care of their bodies is a good first step. 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 frequencySlide 2 of 27
Record menstrual cycle frequency
A woman who wants to have a baby should monitor whether the first days of her periods tend 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 6 days, notes Planned Parenthood.Slide 3 of 27
Monitor ovulationSlide 4 of 27
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 her 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 figuring out 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 lutenizing 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.
Other clues to ovulation include the basal body temperature method, in which a woman takes her temperature before she gets out of bed every day and charts this on a graph for at least three menstrual cycles. After a woman ovulates, her basal body temperature typically increases less than half a degree Fahrenheit (0.3 degrees Celsius). A woman is most fertile during the two to three days before this slight rise in body temperature, reports the Mayo Clinic.
A second method is tracking cervical mucus, which involves a woman regularly checking both the amount and appearance of mucus in her vagina. A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that women who checked their cervical mucus consistently were 2.3 times more likely to get pregnant over a six-month period.
Just before ovulation when a woman is most fertile, the amount of mucus increases and it also becomes thinner, clearer, and more slippery, said the March of Dimes. When cervical mucus becomes more slippery, it can help sperm make its way to the egg.Slide 5 of 27
Have sex every other day during the fertile windowSlide 6 of 27
Have sex every other day during the fertile window
The "fertile window" spans a six-day interval, the five days prior to ovulation and the day of it, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. These are the days each month when a woman is most fertile.
Some women are turning to new technology tools, such as fertility tracking apps and websites, to help them keep tabs on when they may be more likely to conceive, but a study done in 2016 suggests the apps may not be that accurate.
One study found that intercourse is most likely to result in a pregnancy when it occurs 2 days before ovulation.
Research has shown that there hasn't been a big difference in pregnancy rates between couples who had sex every day during the "fertile window" (37 percent) compared with couples who did it every other day (33 percent), Pavone said. "And having sex every other day might be easier for a couple to pull off," she added.
There are plenty of common misconceptions and old wives' tales about conception. For example, there's no evidence that sex position will influence a couple's chances of having a baby, nor does a woman lying on her back for a certain amount of time after intercourse increase the odds of conceiving, Pavone told Live Science.
But she said there are some water-based vaginal lubricants that can decrease the movement of sperm, so Pavone recommended using Pre-Seed rather than Astroglide or K-Y Brand Jelly when lubrication is needed.Slide 7 of 27
Strive for a healthy body weightSlide 8 of 27