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Oh Baby! 6 Tips to Conceive More Quickly
If you want to get pregnant quickly, try these top tips to conceive from fertility doctors!
So, you’re happily married, and thinking that it’s time baby makes three. You’ve thrown away your contraception, and thrown yourselves into baby-making, but wish there was a way to speed things up. We hear you! We ask fertility experts Dr. Steven Teo, IVF Clinician at Thomson Fertility Centre, and Dr. Stephen Chew, Senior Consultant at NUH Women’s Centre for their top tips to conceive.
1. Have regular sex during your fertile window
Conception is all about timing! Because a woman only ovulates once a month, getting Sperm to meet Egg can be tricky. One of the best tips to conceive is figuring out when to do the deed for the highest chances of getting pregnant. While most women with regular menstrual cycles ovulate in the middle of their cycle (with Day 1 being the start of your period), ovulation could occur anywhere between Day 10 to Day 20, making it difficult to pinpoint. Once you ovulate, the egg must be fertilised within 24 hours. Luckily, sperm can live inside a woman’s body for 5 to 7 days, ready to meet the egg when it arrives.
Since the day of ovulation varies from woman to woman, and might not occur at the same time every month, Dr. Teo recommends couples to focus on having unprotected sex every two to three days during the fertile window between Day 10 and Day 20. “It is more effective and practical to have regular sex during this window period, than to attempt to catch the exact day of ovulation with tests,” he says. “Abstaining for two to three days will give optimal sperm count and quality. Prolonged period of abstinence may result in poorer sperm quality, while excessively frequent ejaculation might temporarily compromise on the amount of sperm available.”
2. Skip the Lubricant
Many couples don’t know that lubricant decreases sperm motility. “Most commercially available lubricants will affect sperm function to variable degrees, not to mention those containing spermicides,” says Dr. Teo. “For couples who are very particular about their choice of lubricants while trying to conceive, they may opt for sperm-friendly products like Pre-Seed lubricants from leading pharmacies. Natural options for lubrication during sex include olive oil and coconut oil. Regardless of the lubricant choice, the absolute amount used should probably be kept to the minimum.” Ramp up the foreplay instead of reaching for a lubricant!
3. Abstain from Smoking and Drinking
Increase your fertility with healthy lifestyles. Smoking and drinking can affect fertility, and can definitely affect a baby you might not know you’re already carrying, so when you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to cut them out altogether. Stay away from secondhand smoke as well. Your partner should refrain from smoking and heavy drinking too. Dr. Teo explains, “The quality and quantity of sperm are commonly affected by exposure to excessive heat, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, certain medications and medical conditions, especially those affecting the hormonal systems.”
4. Eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly
Prepare your body for pregnancy by eating a balanced diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, dairy, and healthy sources of fat. Eating healthily will build up stores of essential nutrients in your body. Cut back on caffeine, and avoid high-mercury fish to reduce your exposure to this toxin.
Regular exercise will keep your body in top condition. However, if you’ve been exercising extremely strenuously, it’s time to cut back, as excessive exercise can strain your body and cause you to stop ovulating. Being underweight or obese can affect ovulation too, so make sure your weight is in the healthy range to increase your chances of conceiving. “Avoid obesity as this reduces fertility and increases the risk of miscarriages,” advises Dr. Chew.
5. Supplement Your Diet
Consider taking a prenatal vitamin when you’re trying to conceive, to make sure your body has all the essential nutrients for making a baby. One of the crucial nutrients in most prenatal vitamins is folic acid, which can reduce your baby’s risk of neural tube defects by up to 70%. “Folic acid does not contribute to fertility, but is essential for proper development of the fetal spine in early pregnancy,” explains Dr. Teo. “It is recommended to start taking folic acid 3 months before conceiving.” Because your baby’s neural tube will develop in the brain and spine three weeks after conception, before many women even know they’re pregnant, you should start taking 400 mcg of this supplement daily before trying to conceive.
6. Start Early
Dr. Chew’s top tip for couples trying to conceive is to “Start young, as fertility drops rapidly after the age of 35.” A couple is most fertile in their early 20s, and couples in their early thirties have about a 20 per cent chance of conceiving each month they try. This drops to about 5 per cent by the time they reach the age of 40. It’s normal for a young and healthy couple to take six month to a year to conceive when they start actively trying.
What Could Cause Infertility
If you’ve been trying out these tips to conceive for a while, but haven’t had success, you might need to rule out fertility issues. According to statistics in the UK and the US, most healthy couples under 35 will get pregnant within a year of having regular (every two to three days) unprotected sex. If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year without success, visit your doctor. Women aged 35 and above are advised to consult their doctors after trying for six months, to address concerns as soon as possible.
“There are various reasons why a couple cannot conceive,” says Dr. Chew. “Some of the possible reasons include the husband having very poor sperm count or sperm motility. Large bilateral varicoceles can sometimes cause sperm abnormalities. Mumps infection in adolescence, anabolic steroid or testosterone use, and chemotherapy can often result in abnormal sperm counts as well. Common causes in the women include: Poor ovarian reserve in older women; failure to ovulate on a regular basis, most commonly seen in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome; endometriosis and especially endometriotic cysts that damage the ovarian tissue and eggs; blocked or damaged fallopian tubes from previous infections.” If you’ve been trying for a year without being able to conceive, visit a doctor to rule out possible causes of infertility.
Dr. Teo advises women with pre-existing conditions to seek treatment earlier. “For women who are older (30s and older), with irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual cramps, painful sex, painful defecation, existing medical conditions, or previous pelvic surgery, they should seek early fertility assessment with an experienced fertility specialist,” he says. “Any issues identified early may be amenable to treatment, so that natural conception is still possible.”
Credits: Dr. Steven Teo is an IVF Clinician at Thomson Fertility Centre and Dr. Stephen Chew is a Senior Consultant at NUH Women’s Centre.