• It sounds simple and basic enough, and most of us learned about where babies come from back when we were around ten years old, or younger in some cases. But sometimes things don’t go as smoothly or as quickly as you hope they will. Infertility is the inability to get pregnant for any number of reasons, and it is not the same as being sterile. Sterility is permanent, for the most part. While couples who struggle with infertility can often conceive and have a baby! It may sometimes take a little while, so try not to get discouraged.

    If you are healthy and under 35, most doctors recommend that you give getting pregnant a year before looking into specialists. That’s a year of having sex at least two to three times a week. If you are over 35 you should contact a doctor if you are unsuccessful after 6 months. None the less, there are some things you can work on and try at home to improve your odds.

    Nutrition and Health
    The healthier your bodies are, the more likely you are to be successful in your endeavor to become pregnant.
    Regular exercise and eating a diet rich in lean proteins (beans, turkey, tuna, etc.) fresh fruits and vegetables and taking zinc supplements (15 mg a day) will help. If you are planning a pregnancy you should begin to take omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, iron and vitamin D (see Pregnancy Nutrition page). You should eliminate any alcohol, caffeine, drugs and nicotine (cigarette smoking, even second hand smoke, affects fertility). You should also avoid exposure to pesticides – especially when trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy.
    Men should be aware of healthy eating and exercise as well. They should focus on increasing their Vitamin C, zinc & folic acid intake, avoidance of pesticides, and elimination of alcohol and smoking (sperm counts are approx 15-20% lower in smokers) if trying to begin a family. Men should also be aware that temperature and friction affect sperm – so avoid hot tubs, saunas, hot showers lasting more than 30 minutes, heating pads, electric blankets, tight/spandex undergarments, and cycling.

    Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg (usually one but it may be two or, rarely, more). The first day of the menstrual cycle, or the period, is day one. If a woman has a 28-32 day cycle then she will usually ovulate between days 11-21. These are the most fertile days – the days when the sperm has a shot at fertilizing an egg. Charting the monthly cycles will give you a sense of when you ovulate, and when to expect future ovulation. This will allow you to begin ‘trying’ four days prior to expected ovulation and continue until four days after ovulation. When a woman ovulates her cervical mucus will usually become wet and whitish and her basal temperature will rise. The basal temperature rise is subtle (often only one degree) and occurs after ovulation so it is not the most accurate way of timing intercourse but is more helpful in figuring out your patterns and estimating future cycles’ ovulation. There are now ovulation predictor kits on the market so you can purchase one and test to find out when you are ovulating. Ovulation predictor kits are both easy and accurate.

    Maximizing the Possibilities
    During your most fertile days you should plan on having intercourse every 2-3 days. If a man waits at least 48 hours (without ejaculating) before intercourse his sperm count will be higher, increasing the odds that one of the sperm will actually reach the released egg. Try to avoid lubricant use, and if necessary only use a water based lubricant. Sperm counts are higher in the morning, so consider morning sex. And women should not douche after intercourse (or ever)!

    The missionary position (man on top), with a pillow under the woman’s hips, is the most conducive to sperm reaching their final destination. Spooning is probably the second best position. Staying recumbent for 20 minutes after intercourse increases the odds of the sperms’ success. Positions where gravity is working against you are less optimal. So, positions where the woman is sitting, standing, or on top should be enjoyed during the weeks when the woman is not ovulating.

    If you have a history of any of the following you should see an Obstetrician initially, and not wait 6-12 months:

    1. 1. Sexually transmitted infections (Chlamydia, gonorrhea)
    2. 2. Irregular menstruation (irregular periods, no periods, abnormal bleeding)
    3. 3. Endometriosis
    4. 4. Fibroids
    5. 5. Abdominal Surgery
    6. 6. Chronic Illness (diabetes, asthma, thyroid disease, depression, cancer)

    Remember: Constant worrying or feeling stressed about your biological clock and your ability to conceive can adversely affect your fertility. Take comfort in using some of the guidelines provided above and follow your plan. It’s your best bet and if you can have fun with it then your body will respond!