So you decided you want to have a baby. Mazel Tov! Now comes the fun part — figuring out the best ways to do it.
Since you’ve probably spent a large chunk of your life trying not to get pregnant, you might need a refresher on the whole birds-and-bees thing. But before you jump into a rabbit hole of fertility tips, remember to be wary of what you read.
“There’s a lot of crap on the web,” said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine. “If it sounds crazy, it probably is.”
With so much advice on the Internet, it can be tricky deciphering between fact and fiction. So we sat down with Dr. Minkin, the founder of MadameOvary.com, to find out everything a heterosexual, cisgender woman needs to know about getting pregnant.
Take your time
Have you peed on a pregnancy test for a couple of months now but found you’ve yet to conceive? The first thing to do is don’t freak out, Minkin says. The odds of getting pregnant are in your favor.
The guideline for when you should worry about infertility are such: if you’re under the age of 35, give it a year of trying. After 6 months, half of couples will be pregnant, Minkin says, and after a year, nearly 80 percent will conceive.
If you’re over 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant after 6 months, Minkin suggests you consult with your healthcare provider.
Know when you’re ovulating
Going on a sex binge might be fun, but it isn’t going to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. But knowing when you ovulate will. Most people with uteruses ovulate around day 14 in the 28-day menstrual cycle, some people have longer or shorter cycles, so timing can fluctuate.
“Having sex once a day, or every other day, right around your ovulation time is going to the be most productive,” Minkin says. “You don’t need to have sex every 10 minutes.”
To figure out exactly when you ovulate, consult your healthcare provider, or buy a handy dandy ovulation predictor kit that Minkin calls a “miracle of God.”
“I was truly amazed because the thought that you can tell when you’re ovulating from the comfort and privacy of your own home just astounded me,” she said. “And the tests are pretty darn good.”
So you’re ovulating and ready to fertilize an egg, but your vagina isn’t primed for intercourse. “Having sex on demand can be, well, demanding,” Minkin said. “It’s not optimal for having mucusy secretions in the vagina.”
So, what do you do? Grab the lube! But not just any lube, Minkin warns. Many lubricants include spermicide, which slows down sperm so that it can’t reach an egg. Pre-seed, however, is a sperm-friendly lubricant that doesn’t hinder swimming activity. So grab a bottle and start baby making!
Orgasm doesn’t hurt
One of the great myths of conception is that if a woman orgasms during sex, she’s more likely to get pregnant. It’s true that animals like cats and rabbits need physical stimulation to release an egg, but is the “induced ovulation” phenomenon applicable to humans?
A recent study hypothesizes that the female orgasm originally served to induce ovulation, but has since evolved. Whether or not having an orgasm during sex helps conception hasn’t been determined, Minkin says, but it certainly can’t hurt!
One of the first things Minkin does with a couple that’s having fertility problems is a semen analysis — because as we know, it takes two to tango (uh, procreate). Over 40 percent of cases in which a couple isn’t getting pregnant is because of an insufficient amount of live sperm.
Minkin says the analysis is easy to do, because you “just need to get a guy masturbating and then collect the ejaculate and get it under the microscope.”
Lift your legs
If you lie down with your legs in the air for 10-15 minutes, it might increase your chances of fertilizing an egg.
“It probably won’t help tremendously,” she said. “But, it can’t hurt.”
While sperm are fast swimmers, Minkin says this trick can ensure that a reservoir of sperm isn’t hanging around.
Two words: folic acid
If there’s any chance that you could get pregnant, Minkin implores you to take folic acid. While this won’t help you conceive, it’s important for the health of your future baby.
“We have very good data that shows that women who get pregnant while taking folic acid supplements can substantially reduce their risk of having a baby with a neural defect,” she says.
Folic acid is shown to cut developmental risks in half, so if you aren’t actively planning on getting pregnant — but you’re also not using birth control — it’s not a bad idea to take the supplements.
Love your healthcare provider
As helpful as this article may be, you’re inevitably going to have questions about fertility down the road. Whatever you do, don’t read something on the web and panic, Minkin says. Consult with your healthcare provider instead, but make sure you feel comfortable with them.
“Don’t go to someone who’s gonna say ‘ugh, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!’” Minkin says. “You wanna go to someone who you can speak with and get guidance from.”
If you don’t feel at ease with your current healthcare provider, seek a new one! Your comfort is more important than potentially offending them.