The odds of a perfectly healthy, heterosexual couple (aged 25-40) getting pregnant during any given month are 20%.
If that sounds low to you, then join the club.
The first time I saw that stat I could barely believe it. Two perfectly healthy people, in which one ovulates and the other has normal sperm, could have sex on the exact perfect day, at the exact perfect time and only have a 20% chance of getting pregnant? What. The. Hell.
It made me think…if the odds of a “normal, healthy” couple naturally getting pregnant are only 20%, then what does that say for me and my own cyst-riddled ovaries?
It was then I decided that I was willing to try some new things in order to boost my odds, even if it was just by half a percentage. To be clear, I wasn’t willing to become obsessive or change my entire life. I didn’t give up gluten, dairy and sugar (although I did try to cut back). I didn’t lose 30 pounds (although that certainly wouldn’t have hurt).
But I did explore a lot of low-commitment, fairly simple suggestions to boost my odds just a little bit. Again, these are not foolproof hacks that work for everyone. They’re not magic bullets. They don’t happen overnight. And like everything fertility-related, there are no guarantees (Booooooo). Caveats aside, here are some small changes you can make or new things to try in order to boost your odds of conceiving (even if ever-so-slightly).
- Track Your Cycle: This is where you should begin if you and your partner “pulled the goalie” a few months ago but haven’t really been doing much else other than having random, unprotected sex and crossing your fingers. Understanding how your menstrual cycle works is key to getting pregnant since so much of pregnancy hinges on ovulation and making sure you have sex at the exact right time. One of my favorite resources when it comes to understanding your fertility and tracking your cycle is the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. It’s a simple, easy-to-understand yet highly informative book about best navigating your reproductive health.
- Make *Some* Diet Changes: If you want to cut out gluten entirely, that’s great. Wanna get rid of sugar? Fantastic. But for those of us with less self-control, there are ways of cutting back on gluten / sugar / processed foods without changing your entire life around. You’re the only one who knows what will work for your lifestyle, but try reducing the amount of gluten you’re having. Instead of cereal in the morning, try eggs and avocado. Another thing you can do is either reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume (I know, I know…where’s the fun in that?) Again, you don’t have to cut everything cold-turkey if that doesn’t work for you. Sidebar: If you want to learn more about food / diet / supplements, check out “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett.
- Don’t Hate Me for Saying This But…Tryyyyy to Relax: Ok don’t eye roll… I can feel you eye rolling. I know telling a person struggling with infertility to “just relax” is equivalent to telling a blind person to “just see!” But bear with me. The concept of relaxing is less about magically getting pregnant during a big, fancy beach vacation and more about finding little ways during your day to stay centered and calm. Whether that be through acupuncture, yoga, therapy, or meditation, finding ways to chill out is better for both your mental and physical health.
- Try Some Products: There are a few simple over-the-counter products you can order or try to help boost your odds. From using the Stork or Pre-Seed to investing in some fancier vitamins (either for women or men), do your research. See if there are any special supplements, OPKs (Ovulation Predictor Kits), digital tracking devices or other items in which you’d like to invest. The price range for these products can differ dramatically, so make sure you’re comfortable with the price tag before going nuts on Amazon.
- Get Creative: If your budget can’t make acupuncture or fancy supplements work, fret not. There are a few little, budget-conscious things you can try. For example, making and using castor oil packs can be a great holistic way to stimulate your lymphatic and circulatory systems. Also, try drinking raspberry leaf tea to thicken your uterine lining. Eating pineapple core is another affordable way to encourage an embryo to stick during your two week wait due to bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple core.
- Talk About It: Making sure you have the right emotional support is also a great way to alleviate some of the pressure, stress and isolation you might be feeling while trying to conceive. That’s why signing up to receive a fertility mentor with Fruitful Fertility is a great idea; when you have the support and guidance from someone who understands, your mind can focus more on positive outcomes rather than stress and fear.
Unfortunately there’s no magic reverse-birth-control pill that will get you pregnant (although if any pharmaceutical companies are reading this…this is your next multi-billion dollar idea). So for now, try implementing a few of these small little changes or additions and see if it can bump up your odds of conceiving. What other small changes might help boost conception? Share your favorite tips or thoughts in the comments.