If you’re trying for a baby or thinking about it, you’re probably feeling a lot of excitement and anticipation. And rightly so! But as you may know, getting pregnant isn’t just a matter of having sex.
For starters, timing is everything when it comes to conception. The good news is there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re timing sex just right. And the even better news is there are additional techniques you can use to further improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Whether you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a few months or you’re getting started soon, we’re here to help. Below, we explain what you should know about your odds of getting pregnant, and key tips for increasing them through timing, technique and more.
What are your chances of getting pregnant every month?
Generally, a woman who’s trying to get pregnant has between a 15% and 25% chance of doing so each month. Despite those odds, most couples conceive within the first year of trying.
Whether you will conceive depends on several factors such as your overall health, age, your and your partner’s fertility, and having sex at the right time during your cycle.
Ways to increase chances of getting pregnant
1. Start tracking your menstrual cycle (if you haven’t already)
Each new menstrual cycle is marked by the first day of your period. And tracking your cycle – along with any daily symptoms you’re experiencing – can be incredibly helpful. Why?
Tracking your cycle helps you get to know your body better, including how long your cycle is. The length of your cycle is what determines your fertile window, which we’ll get to in the next section.
Tracking the symptoms you experience such as changes in sex drive, mood or cervical mucus can help you identify patterns throughout your cycle, including what you typically experience leading up to your most fertile days.
How do you get started? When your next period arrives, start tracking since that is Day 1 of your cycle. You can keep a journal and write things down, or you can use mobile apps such as Fertility Friend and Clue.
2. Identify your fertile window and start tracking ovulation
Your fertile window usually occurs mid-cycle and is when you have the highest chance of getting pregnant. During this window, ovulation – when an egg is released from an ovary – occurs. Once this happens, conception (or egg fertilization) is possible.
Tracking your cycle helps set you up for success by narrowing down your fertile window. But the next step to further improve your chances of getting pregnant is identifying when you’re ovulating. Since conception can’t happen until an egg is released, knowing your ovulation window helps you better time sex.
From monitoring your cervical mucus and basal body temperature, to ovulation predictor kits, there are several methods to help figure out your most fertile days.
3. Have frequent sex during your fertile window
One of the most common questions among people trying to conceive is: How often should I have sex if I’m trying to get pregnant?
The short answer is that it depends on your preferences as a couple, and whether there are any known fertility issues.
Overall, studies have shown that couples who have sex every day or every other day during the fertile window have the highest rates of pregnancy. Also, doctors often recommend sticking to just once a day during the fertile window.
If having sex every day or every other day isn’t possible or enjoyable, set a goal to have sex throughout your cycle. This can get you and your partner into a regular sex routine, which can carry you into the fertile window.
Is morning or evening sex better when you’re trying to conceive?
Morning may be the best time to have sex for conception, at least as far as sperm are concerned. Some studies have suggested that sperm count and quality are slightly higher early in the morning, which may mean better odds of conception if they’re deposited right after a good night’s sleep.
However, there isn’t a clear medical consensus, so if you and your partner are in the mood, you shouldn’t let the time of day stop you.
Are there certain positions that can increase your chances of getting pregnant?
There’s no scientific evidence to support the idea that a specific position can increase the odds of conception. However, positions that allow for deeper penetration, such as where the male partner is on top, may help deposit sperm closer to the uterus.
4. Lay down and relax for a few minutes after sex
Standing up or going to the bathroom after sex may pull sperm away from their destination. So, lying on your back for 15 minutes or so after sex may help keep sperm moving in the right direction.
5. Make sure you’re using a fertility-friendly lubricant
The kind of lubricant you use during sex can actually make conception more difficult, so much so that the Food and Drug Administration now categorizes certain lubricants as “fertility friendly”.
This is because the ingredients in many lubricants, such as petroleum, silicone, parabens and glycerin, can harm sperm function. A lubricant’s pH (how acidic or alkaline it is) can also have an effect.
Lubricants to avoid when trying to conceive
- K-Y Jelly
Lubricants to consider when trying to conceive
- JO Actively Trying
6. Strive for a healthy lifestyle for you and your partner
Getting pregnant isn’t only about timing and technique. Improving your health can help increase your odds of becoming pregnant and set you up for a healthy pregnancy. And that goes for your partner, too.
Changes you’ll benefit from before (and after) you conceive include:
- Taking a prenatal vitamin that’s high in folic acid can help with embryo development and reduce the chance of birth defects.
- As for your partner, they can take a male fertility supplement without testosterone additives. Or they can take a daily multivitamin plus a Coenzyme Q-10 vitamin.
- Making good food choices such as eating a balanced diet of proteins, unsaturated fats and complex carbs, can help make your body an ideal environment for a healthy pregnancy – and may help increase your partner’s sperm production.
- Getting active can reduce stress and condition your body, two things that are helpful for every stage of your pregnancy journey.
- Exercise is important for male fertility, too. But activity should be moderate. Intense exercise, and cycling in particular, may reduce sperm count rather than increase it.
- Men should also avoid exposing their testicles to excessive heat, such as from a hot tub, sauna, steam bath or tight clothing.
- Limiting alcohol consumption before you conceive is important because alcohol can interfere with the first few weeks of pregnancy, when your baby’s organs are developing. Limiting alcohol can also benefit higher sperm production.
- Quitting smoking before pregnancy can positively affect both your odds of conception and the health of your pregnancy. That’s because smoking has been repeatedly linked to a variety of health- and fertility-related issues in both men and women.
- Reducing your stress level may be easier said than done, but it can have a serious payoff. Effectively managing stress can benefit not just your fertility and your pregnancy, but many other aspects of your life as well.
Take a peek at our full preconception checklist to set yourself up for success.
7. Schedule a checkup
Scheduling a preconception checkup with your family doctor, OB-GYN or midwife is an important step. A preconception visit is similar to an annual physical but includes additional care focused on family planning and pregnancy.
In particular, a preconception checkup can help identify any health issues that may affect your chances of conception or having a healthy pregnancy.
Your preconception checkup may include things like a physical exam, and a review of your health and reproductive history such as immunizations you’ve received, past pregnancies and current medications. Blood and imaging tests may also be done. This visit is also an opportunity to voice any questions or concerns you may have.
You and your partner should each schedule appointments for yourselves so that you know everything you can when you start trying to conceive.
Start with almost-baby steps
The more information you have on your side, the more you can increase your chances of conceiving quickly.
Understanding your cycle and then pinpointing your most fertile days are the big ones for being able to time your baby-making sessions. But don’t forget to use simple techniques and tools like taking it easy for a few minutes after sex and using the right lubricant.
And of course, don’t neglect your health. Beyond taking steps to keep your mind and body healthy, get in for a visit with your doctor or clinician. They will not only check in on your health, but they can also give you tailored advice to help improve your chances of getting pregnant.