The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recently published a “committee opinion” emphasizing the importance – and effectiveness – of optimizing natural fertility at home. The article is both inspiring and a good reminder that the best way to conceive a baby without medical assistance is by following five key recommendations.
While we’re thrilled that the public is more informed than ever about infertility and fertility treatment options, there is also a hyper-focus on getting pregnant as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that means women and couples often jump the gun, assuming their infertile long before there’s any need to worry. Plus, misunderstanding the menstrual cycle and a woman’s “fertile window” means couples don’t have enough sex at the right time to maximize the number of sperm waiting to meet the egg.
To that end, here are five important things to remember and focus on when trying to get pregnant on your own.
ASRM’s findings state that 80% of all couples get pregnant within six months of attempting to get pregnant. Another 10% of so getting pregnant when they try consistently for 12 months. Only after 12 months of consistently timing intercourse for conception should you seek support from your OB/GYN or a fertility specialist. If you’re 38 years old or older, it’s wise to schedule an appointment after the first six months.
To capitalize on those 12 months, make sure to use a fertility app faithfully to know when you’re ovulating. This is key for timing conception accordingly.
So many couples wait until the day or two before ovulation – or until the woman ovulates – before they have sex. This means you’re missing out on prime opportunities to store sperm in the reproductive tract until the egg arrives.
ASRM reminds us that the fertile window is more than just the 24 hours around ovulation. It actually lasts for the six days leading up to ovulation and includes ovulation day. Unlike the unfertilized egg, which dies between 12 and 24 hours of leaving the follicle, healthy sperm can happily live in the reproductive tract for up to a week.
Once you’re tuned into your ovulation rhythm, start having sex once a day or every other day leading up to the day of ovulation. We call this “timing intercourse for conception.” It is the best way to ensure your egg is fertilized.
Men have a biological clock, too. However, the male biological clock doesn’t wind down noticeably until men are 50+ years old. Even so, sperm quality is essential. Most failed conceptions and miscarriages result from chromosomal or genetic abnormalities – and those originate in both sperm and eggs.
Make sure your male partner is equally dedicated to a healthy pregnancy lifestyle. The results will be elevated sperm counts and better sperm motility and morphology (movement and shape).
Taking folic acid supplements greatly diminishes the chances of neural tube defects – as well as decreases the risk of autism. If you’re trying to conceive (TTC), ask your physician about taking a prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid. Also, start reading the labels of your favorite cereals, breads, and pastas, making a note to emphasize folic acid-fortified options. Also, focus on a diet with lots of fruits, veggies, beans, nuts/seeds, and other whole foods, which are the best way to assimilate folic acid naturally.
Even with all of these reminders, it’s also true that 12% of the population will struggle to get pregnant without medical assistance or intervention. The ASRM defines infertility as, “the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected vaginal intercourse.”
If that definition rings true for you, schedule a consultation with a fertility clinic to learn more about why you’re struggling to conceive and to develop a personalized fertility treatment plan. Schedule a consultation to start the initial testing process and learn what’s preventing you from getting pregnant.