Guides

Your Guide to Getting Pregnant Naturally

How to maximize your chances of conceiving naturally and when to seek help
Couple laying next to each other on a bed
Couple laying next to each other on a bed
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a few months and you're getting frustrated with each negative pregnancy test, then it's time to get your fertility strategy in place so you can optimize your chances of getting pregnant each month.

A lot of women when trying to conceive google, 'how to get pregnant fast' looking for a simple answer. 

Everyone is unique and there are a lot of factors that can affect your ability to get pregnant quickly, such as your age, whether you have regular cycles, and any conditions you may have such as PCOS, endometriosis, hypothyroidism, etc. Then there's your partner as well, he's half the equation.

For women with regular menstrual cycles, ovulation can only happen once a month at the quickest. And once your ovulate, the egg is only viable to be fertilized for about 24 hours, which is not very long so timing is everything. There are a lot of moving parts that need to align in order to conceive so it's no wonder that it doesn't work on the first or even second try.

So, asking 'how to get pregnant fast' isn't the right question. What you should ask is "how can I optimize each cycle to increase my chances of getting pregnant".

Each month can feel like forever and make you feel powerless but there are quite a few things you can do to help take control of the situation and support your fertility goals.

Here are 5 tips to help you get pregnant faster. 

1. Track ovulation accurately


For the best chance of getting pregnant each month, you need to make sure that you are tracking your menstrual cycle accurately so that you know when you will ovulate. 

Women have a 'fertile window' during ovulation that is just a few days, so you need to track when you ovulate as that’s when your body releases an egg that’s ready to be fertilized. 

If you've only been using a period tracking app to identify your fertile window that estimates ovulation based on how many days your cycle is, you might actually be slightly missing your window!

A recent study of over 30,000 women using a connected ovulation tool found that many women have variations in their menstrual cycle length and don't ovulate on the same day of their cycle each month.

For example, if you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, you might have calculated that you ovulate on Day 14. Even if that is the case for you on certain months, that might not be true for every month!

You could be ovulating a day or two earlier or later than you think.

Also, let's talk about how long your actual menstrual cycle is.

While it's common to hear that a typical menstrual cycle lasts for about 28 days, this study highlighted that almost half the women who identified their menstrual cycle as being the typical 28 days in length were wrong! 🤯

Their actual menstrual cycle length was shorter or longer than the standard 28 days. 

So even if you know how long your cycle is, you could still be off on estimating what day you ovulate and this can reduce your chance of getting pregnant.

How do you know when you're ovulating?


Besides tracking your cycle length, there are better tools you can use to identify ovulation. 

You can track ovulation by: 
  • measuring menstrual cycle length
  • ovulation predictor kit (OPK) tests
  • basal body temperature (BBT) tracking
  • changes in cervical mucus (CM)
  • changes in cervix position

Let's talk ovulation predictor kits.

You can get a more accurate idea of when you will ovulate by using an ovulation predictor kit, known as an OPK for short.

Ovulation sticks or strips are fairly inexpensive and are used to measure changes in your hormone levels that indicate ovulation.

Specifically, ovulation predictor kits are used to detect Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in your urine.

These tests look just like a pregnancy test but instead of measuring hCG for pregnancy, they measure LH to detect when ovulation is about to occur.

The science of LH

During the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, which is the roughly two weeks leading up to ovulation, a follicle is developing in your ovary that contains an egg.

A follicle starts to develop in response to the pituitary gland in your bran producing Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).

At the start of your cycle, the follicle is very small and produces a small amount of estrogen. As the follicle develops and gets larger, it produces more estrogen. In response to the estrogen being produced, the pituitary gland in your brain continues producing FSH and LH to stimulate the follicle to develop.

Once the follicle containing the egg has developed long enough, the levels of estrogen produced by the follicle is high enough to signal to your brain to release a burst of LH.

This is known as the 'LH surge', which signals to the ovary that it's time to finish up egg maturation and release the egg. Ovulation doesn't happen exactly at the time of the LH surge, it actually occurs about 36 hours after the LH surge.

TL;DR

Once your OPK tests positive for the LH surge, you will ovulate about 36 hours later. 

⏰ Ovulation is marked by the LH surge, which triggers the release of an egg about 36 hours later. 

You'd need to start testing with LH strips early in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle so that you're measuring in plenty of time to catch the LH surge which happens midway through your menstrual cycle.

Keep in mind that once the LH surge occurs in your body, high levels of LH don't stay around very long, so when you're getting close to your suspected ovulation date, you may need to test more than once a day to make sure you don't miss detecting the surge. 

🙅‍♀️It's important to note though, that if you have PCOS, using ovulation tests are a no-go. 

Women with PCOS tend to have increased levels of LH throughout their cycle that would cause ovulation tests to be inaccurate.

If you're trying to get pregnant with PCOS and have irregular menstrual cycles, you may want to consult a fertility specialist who can help.

When should you have sex after a positive ovulation test?


When you are using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), you are looking for a signal of the LH surge. For digital OPKs they often use a smiley face to indicate that your LH is high. For reading ovulation test strips, it's more similar to a pregnancy test where you're looking for one line vs two lines to appear on the strip. 

Make sure to read the instructions for the specific OPK you have to make sure you are testing correctly and reading the results accurately.

Once you detect the LH surge, you should plan to have sex around 36 hours later to increase your chance of pregnancy. 

Note: While trying to conceive, you should test with ovulation tests for each unique menstrual cycle, as ovulation may not occur on the same cycle day each month.

2. Have Sex on Your Ovulation Date and the Day After As Well


Ok, so we have established that you ovulate about 36 hours after the LH surge. Remember, the date of your positive ovulation test is not the date of ovulation. Ovulation occurs about 36 hours after your positive ovulation test. 

While you ovulate around 36 hours later, there's also a timeframe for how long the egg is viable to be fertilized. 

⏳Once ovulation has occurred, the egg is viable for about 24 hours.

Make sure to have sex on your estimated ovulation day and the next day as well to increase your odds that a sperm will have the chance to make it to your egg while it is viable. 

Some fertility clinics even use this method when women are doing intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment. They have women come into the clinic about 36 hours after ovulation to do the insemination process at the clinic and in some cases have the woman come back the next day as well for a second insemination procedure. This is called a back-to-back IUI cycle and is sometimes done in an attempt to improve the chance of pregnancy from an IUI cycle. 

3. Get Your Man on a Sperm Schedule


You're doing all this work tracking and estimating and planning, so give your partner something he can do to be of help too!

Sperm quality is just as important when trying to conceive. Your partner is half the equation after all. 

💡 It's a common misconception that a man should try to 'save up his sperm' for as long as possible before ovulation to increase chances of pregnancy. More days of abstinence actually results in less motile sperm & higher DNA fragmentation.

The longer amount of time a man goes without ejaculating, the poorer his semen quality is. Waiting many days longer to ejaculate can result in semen containing a greater quantity of immotile sperm as well as higher occurrence of sperm DNA fragmentation. 

Neither of these things will improve your chances of conceiving so you need to be cognizant of how to mitigate this issue. 

✅Studies have found that 2-3 days of abstinence provides the best semen parameters.

So add this into your calculation when timing ovulation.

If you have estimated your ovulation date ahead of time, ask your partner to aim for having about 2-3 days of abstinence by your ovulation date.

For example, if you estimate that you’ll ovulate on day 14 of your cycle, he should make sure to ejaculate on day 11 or 12 so that he has the most optimal semen parameters for ovulation day. 

Don't obsess if it doesn't work out to have exactly 2 or 3 days, just try to avoid more than 5 days of abstinence if you can. 

Having a high count of immotile sperm in the ejaculate can not only leave less sperm that can swim to reach the egg, it can also create a mesh-like structure, making it difficult for the motile sperm to navigate through to reach the egg. 

Bottom line, try for a 2-3 day abstinence period and don't go beyond 5 days for the best semen quality.

4. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet


Recent studies have shown that cutting out foods that cause inflammation, specifically following a mediterranean diet, has been shown to improve pregnancy outcomes in women. Preliminary studies show there may be a beneficial effect on semen quality in men who adhere to this diet as well.  

Another recent study surveyed over 5,000 couples on their dietary patterns while trying to conceive found that women with a diet high in fast food (more than once per week) had longer times to pregnancy and those with a high daily fruit intake had shorter times to pregnancy.

While you’re evaluating your preconception diet, you may also want to get tested for celiac disease to see whether you have a gluten-tolerance issue.

We know, we know, why do we have to demonize bread?! 😩 You may not have any issues at all but it's something to look into, as preliminary studies have found that an underlying undiagnosed celiac disease was prevalent in women with unexplained infertility and those with recurrent miscarriage. 

Pregnancy outcomes improved in patients found to have celiac disease once adhering to a gluten-free diet. 

5. Take Supplements to Support Your Fertility Goals


There are vitamins that are known to be extremely important in embryo development and then some supplements that show great promise in improving fertility in men and women.

If you’re not already, you should make sure to start taking folic acid as well as a prenatal vitamin to make sure that your body has the reserves of vitamins and minerals an embryo will need to develop properly.
 
Folic acid is particularly important as low levels of this during early pregnancy result in neural tube defects of the fetus.

Reproductive endocrinologists often recommend additional supplementation beyond this to women trying to conceive such as vitamin D, omega-3, an antioxidant, and potentially others based on your specific needs.

Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements as having amounts of certain minerals or vitamins that are too high can cause issues as well. 

When to Consider Fertility Testing 


If you've been trying to get pregnant for some time now, it makes sense you'd want to consult a fertility specialist to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

How long should you wait before seeking an opinion from a doctor at a fertility clinic?

There are guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine that recommend when to seek testing at a fertility clinic depending on your age. 

Female age greatly affects fertility; as women get older their fertility declines. 

That's why the recommendations for when to reach out vary by how old you are. Not all women should wait the same amount of time before reaching out to a specialist to have fertility testing.

It’s recommended to have fertility testing once:
  • women younger than 35 try to conceive for 12 months without success
  • women aged 35-39 try to conceive for 6 months without success
  • women 40 years or older try to conceive for 3 months without success

If you already fall into one of these groups, don’t stress!

It could end up being a simple fix but you won’t know unless you get some preliminary testing.

If you're nervous about getting testing at a fertility clinic, consider having your partner get his testing first to see if the issue may be a male factor.

Male fertility is assessed by a semen analysis and is an easy test to indicate whether the issue may be to do with the sperm count, motility, or morphology.

If you do need treatment to help you get pregnant, there are inexpensive options such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or there's the option of IVF, which is more expensive than IUI but also comes with much higher success rates per cycle.

You can always start with your OBGYN if you feel more comfortable but really a reproductive endocrinologist at a fertility clinic would provide the best amount of insight.

After all, helping couples get pregnant is their speciality and they often run more tests than at your gynecologist's office.

But you may need to start with your OBGYN anyway if your insurance requires you to get a referral before seeing a fertility specialist.

If you do want to visit a fertility clinic, you can get started by researching fertility clinics in your area and checking what your insurance plan will cover.

You can also use our guide for how to choose the best fertility clinic for you to help you make a more informed decision. 

🕵️‍♀️ Find a fertility clinics near you. View success rates, locations, and learn more about each provider. 

In the meantime, get busy!

We hope that armed with ovulation sticks, your partner’s sperm schedule, prenatal vitamins, and a healthy diet you can set yourself up for success at home (or wherever you're doing it, we don't judge).