Once you’ve made the big decision to start a family, you probably don’t want to wait, right? If that’s the case, then start planning now. That’s because the key to getting pregnant fast is not just about having sex at the right time but also about creating the perfect environment, so that when sperm meets egg, a healthy embryo grows into a healthy baby. Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to get pregnant fast.
Step 1: Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
If you’re wondering how to increase your chances of getting pregnant fast, self-care can go a long way. It’s no secret your body goes through some major changes and challenges during pregnancy and delivery, so be sure to start off your pregnancy journey in tip-top shape by taking important steps toward a healthy lifestyle. Here, we’ve outlined some simple health tips for getting pregnant to follow.
See your doctor and dentist
Your ob-gyn (or midwife) can talk to you about your overall health and suggest any necessary lifestyle changes to help you get pregnant fast. You’ll also want to discuss any family history of infertility with your doctor, since some fertility issues may be hereditary. And don’t forget to pay your dentist a visit! Gum disease has been linked to underweight and premature babies. Not only that, pregnancy is notoriously tough on teeth and gums. Your dentist can make sure your oral hygiene is in good standing before you get pregnant.
Get some exercise
Now is a great time to establish healthy exercise habits to prepare your body for pregnancy. Even squeezing in a short daily walk is enough to get your heart rate up and contribute to good health. But be careful not to overdo it: Studies have shown that extreme exercise, especially working out to the point of exhaustion, may mess with your menstrual cycle and lead to infertility.
Start taking prenatal vitamins
It’s never too early to start taking prenatal vitamins. Among other important nutrients, they contain folic acid, which numerous studies have found to be critically important for baby at every stage of development—it helps promote ovulation, encourages fertilization and support early embryo survival, says Audrey Gaskins, ScD, an instructor of nutrition and dietetics at Harvard Medical School. Your ob-gyn can prescribe a prenatal vitamin or offer recommendations for some good over-the-counter options. Foods like strawberries, spinach, beans and orange juice are also naturally high in folate.
Smoking can impact your chances of getting pregnant fast: It’s linked to increased risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies. “Smokers have significantly lower levels of estrogen, which could lower the probability of ovulation in a given menstrual cycle and potentially affect pregnancy maintenance,” Gaskins says. It’s a habit your partner should also kick to the curb: Smoking can lower the quality and quantity of his sperm.
Watch your caffeine consumption
You don’t have to cut out caffeine completely, but stick to one to two eight-ounce cups a day. Too much caffeine may lead to fertility issues.
Cut back on alcohol
While an occasional glass of wine isn’t going to affect your fertility, consider skipping the alcohol while you’re trying to conceive. No amount of alcohol is considered safe to drink while pregnant, and since you won’t know the exact moment you conceive, doctors suggest forgoing it altogether.
Avoid sweets and processed food
Try to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Healthy diets help increase progesterone levels (a key hormone in maintaining pregnancy) and support ovulation and early implantation, Gaskins says—three critical factors in determining how to get pregnant.
Step 2: Stop Taking Birth Control
It’s obvious you need to quit your method of birth control in order to get pregnant. What’s not so obvious is that, depending on what form you’re using, fertility doesn’t necessarily return right away. With barrier methods, like condoms, upping your chance of getting pregnant is as easy as leaving them in your nightstand drawer. If you have a non-hormonal IUD removed, your body will immediately be ready for pregnancy. But for women who have been using hormonal forms of birth control, it can take some time for your body to return to normal.
“Especially when women have been on birth control for a very long time, cycles may not occur right away. They may be absent or very irregular for a month or so,” says Eric D. Levens, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility Clinic. Typically with the pill, “after about six to eight weeks, you should start seeing your cycle. If after 8 to 10 weeks you’re still not getting a period, it’s wise to seek help from a doctor to figure out what’s going on.”
Step 3: Track Your Ovulation
Knowing when you’re going to ovulate—and therefore when you’re most fertile—is key to how to get pregnant fast. Nailing down the timing isn’t always easy, but luckily there are several ways to track your ovulation.
Learn when ovulation happens
It’s a good idea to understand the basics of how ovulation works so you can monitor your body for signs and symptoms. It’s a common misconception that ovulation always occurs on the 14th day after your period starts, but that only happens if your menstrual cycle is consistent and 28 days long. Every woman’s cycle is different. “The average cycle is anywhere from 24 to 35 days, and it doesn’t vary by more than three to four days on any given month,” Levens says. Depending on how long your cycle is, ovulation can actually happen between 11 to 21 days after the first day of your last period (or even earlier or later, if you have a particularly short or long cycle). But while the timing of ovulation depends on the woman’s unique cycle, all healthy women will get their periods 12 to 14 days after ovulation.
Use an ovulation calculator
When you have an important goal, you track what you need to do in a calendar—so it makes sense when you’re planning one of the biggest projects of your life (hello, baby!) to do the same. An ovulation or fertility calculator can help you figure out how to get pregnant fast by determining the length of your cycle. Just record the first day of your period, which is the first day of your menstrual cycle, for several months. Over time you’ll begin to see patterns as to when your period typically starts and when you’re likely to ovulate. Your fertility is highest during the five days leading up to ovulation and 24 hours after. For quick, easy computation, plug the last day of your period and length of your cycle into The Bump ovulation calculator—it’ll do some fast math and highlight the days of the calendar on which you have the highest chance of getting pregnant.
Recognize ovulation symptoms
An app can crunch the numbers and give you likelihoods, but one of the simplest ways to get pregnant is to listen to your body and watch for symptoms of ovulation. You may have just one or two, or you may have several of the following signs:
- Light spotting
- Clear, stretchy cervical mucus
- Increased libido
- Breast sensitivity and tenderness
- Heightened sense of taste, sight or smell
- Change in cervical firmness and position (it’ll feel softer, higher and more open)
- A sudden and sustained increase in your basal body temperature
Boost your odds with an ovulation kit
While recognizing ovulation symptoms helps you get more acquainted with your cycle, there’s a chance that, by the time you notice them, you might already be past your window of opportunity for getting pregnant. So if you’re looking for how to get pregnant fast, ovulation tests can help. These over-the-counter predictor kits track your ovulation by measuring the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), a hormone produced by your pituitary gland, in your urine. Your body is always creating LH, but it makes more of it 24 to 48 hours before you ovulate.
For the best results, take the test at the same time each day for several days and refrain from drinking or urinating two hours before testing. Typically, you place the test strip in a cup of your urine or directly in your urine stream, then watch for results on a digital monitor. A certain color or sign will appear to signal an LH surge. When this happens, it means you’ll be ovulating soon and should plan to have sex. Just keep in mind that these tests aren’t 100 percent accurate, since they’re only testing for one indicator of ovulation. Certain health conditions—polycystic ovarian syndrome or Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome, for example—can cause a false positive, and certain medications such as estrogens and progesterones (found in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy) can lower your LH levels.
Chart your basal body temperature
Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) is another way to find out when you’re ovulating. While your non-ovulating, normal temperature is 96 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, your BBT changes throughout your cycle, and during ovulation it may be a half-degree higher. To track your BBT, take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed using a special BBT thermometer designed to measure temperature in tenths of degrees. Record your BBT on a chart for several months and look for a pattern to emerge. You can assume you’ve ovulated when you have a slightly higher BBT for three or more days. If you’re having trouble seeing a pattern or change in your BBT, you might want to try taking your BBT rectally or vaginally for more accurate results. Unfortunately, though, you don’t have much time to try to conceive by the time your BBT has risen; this method is more about getting to know your body and figuring out your overall pattern of fertility. When you figure out that monthly pattern, you can plan to have sex a few days before your BBT spikes.
Step 4: Have Well-Timed Sex
When you’re trying to conceive, it gives you an incentive to hit the sheets all the time. But like anything, too much of a good thing can be bad. Experts say the best way to get pregnant fast is to have sex once a day, every other day, during your fertile time right before and after ovulation. If you have sex too often, your partner’s sperm count may be lower, and if you don’t have enough, the sperm are old and can’t swim as fast. You’ll also want to avoid these things while trying to conceive:
Don’t use lube
They may make you more comfortable, but some lubricants can make sperm more likely to die before they reach the egg. Try a lubricant that’s “sperm-friendly,” or consider canola oil. Or, maybe you just need to ramp up the foreplay to enhance your own natural lubrication.
Don’t douche after sex
This sabotages your chances of getting pregnant and puts you at risk for pelvic infection. You should also avoid long runs, saunas, hot tubs or any activity that raises your body temperature right after you have sex.
Don’t worry about specific sex positions to get pregnant
Believe it or not, research hasn’t discovered any particular positions that are better at helping women get pregnant fast—you can conceive in just about any sex position. “The position you have sex in will not prevent you from getting pregnant and will not cause infertility,” says Rachel Gurevich, fertility expert and coauthor of Birth Plans for Dummies. So it’s okay to have fun experimenting and finding a sex position that works best for both you and your partner. “One of the things to keep in mind when selecting a position is choosing one where both partners are comfortable and able to enjoy the encounter, as well as orgasm,” says Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, LCCE (Lamaze certification), a certified doula. If you want, you can try lying on your back after sex, bending your knees and tilting your pelvis backward at a 45-degree angle for 30 minutes, which may help hold in the semen.
How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant?
Most healthy couples who have frequent, unprotected sex become pregnant within a year, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to one study, 38 percent conceived after one month, 68 percent after three months, 81 percent after six months and 92 percent after 12 months. Still, sometimes you might need some help conceiving.
If you’re in your early 30s or younger and you and your partner are both healthy, it’s okay to actively try for a year without using birth control before speaking with your ob-gyn or a fertility specialist. After all, It's important to keep in mind that even at the peak of fertility, the chances of getting pregnant in any given month is only about 1 in 5, Levens says.
Since fertility decreases as you age, you may want to get help at the six-month mark if you’re over 35. The sooner you see a doctor, the more likely you are to get pregnant fast. “Some causes of infertility worsen over time,” Gurevich says. “And by waiting, you may be reducing the odds for success with fertility treatments.”
The key is to not blame yourself if you aren’t getting pregnant. Infertility is common—one in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And don’t assume you’re the “problem”; difficulty conceiving may be linked to the woman, man or a combination of factors. If trying to get pregnant is stressful, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Also consider joining an in-person or online support group, so you can share your feelings with others going through the same experience.
Updated August 2017