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If you’ve decided you want to have a baby, it can be agonizing to wait for a positive pregnancy result. Most couples successfully conceive within six months of trying and don’t require fertility treatment. If you’re wondering how to get pregnant fast, here are some tactics you can try.
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1. Have lots of sex—especially during your fertile window
Of course, the fastest way to conceive is having sex. And the more the better. Engage in sex frequently, especially during your fertile window.
Wondering when your fertile window is? There are a few ways to track it. The key is knowing when ovulation is (the 2-day period when an egg is released to be fertilized). Since sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for nearly a week, your fertile window is the week or so before (and during) ovulation.
You can track your menstrual cycle to find out when you release an egg using an ovulation predictor kit. These kits allow you to chart ovulation factors like basal body temperature, which spikes during ovulation. You can also check the consistency of vaginal secretions or cervical mucus, which gets slippery and stretchy like raw egg whites before ovulation.
It’s a common misconception that abstaining from sex improves sperm quality, but strategically holding off won’t help you. If having sex more often feels stressful, don’t worry—your chances of getting pregnant are nearly as good if you get intimate 2–3 times per week (ASRM, 2017).
2. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and good cardiovascular health—it also increases your chances of conceiving.
One study concluded that routine exercise is linked to more regular menstrual cycles and higher pregnancy rates, and data comparing women taking fertility drugs to those who increased their exercise habits found pregnancy rates to be similar (Mena, 2019).
However, you can have too much of a good thing. Women who exercise too intensely (like professional athletes or ultra-marathoners) may disrupt hormone release, which may suppress their periods and ovulation. Don’t let this discourage you from exercising—just remember that balance is key (Walker, 2021).
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying too much or too little body fat is also linked to decreased fertility. Unhealthy eating habits can contribute to obesity, which is associated with menstrual irregularity, missed ovulation, and infertility (Mutsaerts, 2016).
Fortunately, for women with a BMI over 27, losing even 10% of body weight has been shown to restore ovulation to normal within a year (Walker, 2021). Carrying not enough body fat can affect fertility, too. People who struggle with anorexia or lose large amounts of weight quickly may also experience hormonal imbalances that prevent ovulation from occurring (Boutari, 2020).
How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
If you’re planning to get pregnant soon and are over or underweight, getting to a weight best for your height and body type can promote conceiving when the time comes. If you’re unsure, a healthcare provider can help you determine what the appropriate range is for you.
4. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet
Eating a diverse diet full of protein, antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats is another way support your fertility and prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy.
While a diet high in trans fats, added sugars, and carbs can negatively affect fertility, eating foods rich in fiber, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids has a positive impact. A Mediterranean Diet is a great example of this (Skoracka, 2021).
5. Reduce stress
The relationship between stress and fertility is complicated; researchers are still exploring the link between stress and infertility and to what extent one impacts the other.
We do know intense periods of stress can shown to disrupt the menstrual cycle (a symptom of skipped ovulation). Stress can also encourage coping behaviors that aren’t fertility-friendly like not sleeping, smoking, and overeating (Bae, 2018).
Because female fertility is driven by a delicate balance of hormones, it’s also vulnerable to excess hormones triggered by stress. Low amounts of stress are normal and healthy, but too much can cause the frequent release of stress hormones like alpha-amylase, which may lower fertility (Palomba, 2018; Sharma, 2013).
Knowing how to relieve stress can sometimes feel impossible, so it’s okay to start small. Get plenty of sleep, try stress-reduction strategies like therapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy), mindfulness meditation, and ask for support with work and home demands.
6. Quit or reduce smoking
Among other health problems, cigarette smoking is associated with reduced fertility in women. Studies have found people who smoke experience significantly higher infertility rates than non-smokers. It’s unclear exactly how this happens—it could be that it disrupts hormones or impacts the health of your ovaries (Sharma, 2013).
It can be difficult to quit, but even just reducing your cigarette consumption can improve reproductive health (Soares, 2008).
How much sperm does it take to get pregnant?
7. Encourage your male partner’s health
Female fertility is only half the picture when trying to get pregnant. Ensuring your male partner is taking care of his health and fertility is vital to getting pregnant sooner rather than later. Here are some tips for promoting male fertility:
- Keep your testicles cool. Some evidence suggests that excessive heat can harm sperm, causing temporary male fertility issues. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid saunas, hot tubs, or hot baths before having sex. The data isn’t conclusive, but avoiding these potentially sperm-damaging activities is a reasonable approach if you’re trying to get pregnant quickly (Leslie, 2022).
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise. Obesity is associated with low sperm count and reduced male fertility. Encouraging an overweight partner to eat a more balanced diet and exercise regularly can help you conceive more quickly (Leslie, 2022).
- Drink less alcohol and avoid recreational drugs. Alcohol consumption (especially chronic use) can negatively impact semen volume, sperm count, and sperm shape. Reducing alcohol intake, particularly if you’re a heavy drinker, may improve these parameters. Other recreational drugs can decrease levels of hormones like testosterone, which are crucial for sperm production and erectile function (Kulkarni, 2014; Finelli, 2021).
In addition to taking these steps to speed up baby-making, it’s important to keep up with pregnancy preparation basics no matter how long it takes to conceive.
When and how often should you have sex to get pregnant?
Start by going off birth control and consider a daily prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid. Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on vaccinations. You can even start to establish a relationship with an ob-gyn so you’re off to a great start before you get pregnant.
- Bae, J., Park, S., & Kwon, J. W. (2018). Factors associated with menstrual cycle irregularity and menopause. BMC Women’s Health, 18(1), 1-11. doi:10.1186/s12905-018-0528-x. Retrieved from https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-018-0528-x
- Boutari, C., Pappas, P. D., Mintziori, G., et. al. (2020). The effect of underweight on female and male reproduction. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 107, 154229. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2020.154229. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32289345/
- Finelli, R., Mottola, F., & Agarwal, A. (2022). Impact of alcohol consumption on male fertility potential: A narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), 328. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010328. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8751073/
- Kulkarni, M., Hayden, C., & Kayes, O. (2014). Recreational drugs and male fertility. Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, 5(5), 19–23. Retrieved from https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/tre.414
- Leslie, S. W., Siref, L. E., Soon-Sutton, T., et. al. (2022). Male infertility. StatPearls. Retrieved May 20, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/
- Mena, G. P., Mielke, G. I., & Brown, W. J. (2019). The effect of physical activity on reproductive health outcomes in young women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction Update, 25(5), 541-563. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmz013. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31304974/
- Mutsaerts, M. A., van Oers, A. M., Groen, H., et. al. (2016). Randomized trial of a lifestyle program in obese infertile women. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(20), 1942-53. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1505297. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27192672/
- Palomba, S., Daolio, J., Romeo, S., et al. (2018). Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on female fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 16, 113. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0434-y. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275085/
- Payne, K. S., Mazur, D. J., Hotaling, J. M., et. al. (2019). Cannabis and male fertility: A systematic review. The Journal of Urology, 202(4), 674-681. Retrieved from https://www.auajournals.org/doi/full/10.1097/JU.0000000000000248
- Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in collaboration with the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. (2017). Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility, 107(1), 52-58. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.09.029. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28228319/
- Sharma, R., Biedenharn, K. R., Fedor, J. M., et al. (2013). Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: Taking control of your fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 11(66). doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-66. Retrieved from https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1477-7827-11-66#citeas
- Skoracka, K., Ratajczak, A. E., Rychter, A. M., et al. (2021). Female fertility and the nutritional approach: The most essential aspects. Advances In Nutrition, 12(6), 2372-2386. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab068. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8634384/
- Soares, S. R. & Melo, M. A. (2008). Cigarette smoking and reproductive function. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 20(3), 281-291. doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000000248. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18460944/
- Walker, M. H. & Tobler, K. J. (2021). Female infertility. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556033/
Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.