At our Los Angeles based fertility practice, The Center for Fertility and Gynecology, many patients are interested in natural ways to improve their chance for conception. In this blog post we will discuss how various natural techniques and lifestyle factors affect one’s chance for pregnancy.
What is normal fertility?
The official definition of infertility is one year of regular, unprotected intercourse without conception. While this definition serves as a useful benchmark for scientific studies, most couples become frustrated and begin to worry long before the 1 year mark. The truth is that, most couples (50-60%) become pregnant in the first 3 months of trying. It is definitely reasonable to continue trying for up to 6 months, because about 75% of couples will conceive by that time. After 6 months, most experts recommend speaking to a physician about the struggle. This is especially true for women who are age 35 or greater.
If you are in that initial 6 months of trying, or even if you have been trying for a bit longer and are on your way to see a specialist, there are ways that you can optimize your chance for conception each month.
When is the fertile window?
Pregnancy can occur from a single act of intercourse on any of the 6 days preceding ovulation. To improve one’s chances however, intercourse should ideally occur within 2 days before ovulation. Studies have shown that the majority of pregnancies result from intercourse which occurred either 1 or 2 days before ovulation. Less conception occurs with intercourse on the day of ovulation and very few if any pregnancies occur with intercourse after ovulation.
How often should we have sex?
Intercourse frequency is an important detail when trying to get pregnant. I recommend that the easiest method is simply to have sex every other day starting on day 8 through 16 of the cycle. This should cover the fertile window without putting too much pressure on the couple. Some couples prefer to have sex every day and that is fine too, but probably unnecessary. The only downside to daily sex is that if there is a low concentration of sperm, daily ejaculation may further diminish the supply. If the sperm concentration is normal, it should not be a problem.
On the other side of the spectrum, the male partner should ejaculate at least once every 5 days while trying to conceive. Some studies have found that long intervals between ejaculations are associated with poorer semen parameters.
Does lubrication affect fertility?
Many people fear that lubrication can inhibit sperm function. In fact, this has been demonstrated in several studies where sperm is found to be slower when placed into lubricant. It is somewhat difficult to discern if this phenomenon is relevant to real life intercourse because the sperm is exposed to many other fluids other than just the lubrication. Further, there have been innumerous pregnancies which have occurred while using lubricant. Despite these questions, a few types of lubrications are believed to be less detrimental to sperm. These include Canola oil based lubricants as well as hydroxyethylcellulose based lubricants. The former lubricant is otherwise known by the brand name Preseed.
Is sexual position important?
No, position is not important. Any position that is comfortable is okay. I recommend that the women not get up to urinate shortly after intercourse, but other than that, there is no known position that promotes or inhibits pregnancy. Additionally, position will not influence the gender of the baby.
What about orgasm?
Orgasm is not a prerequisite for pregnancy. It certainly will not hurt ones chances, but it is by no means necessary to conceive.
Is there a special diet for fertility?
Although I wish there was a special food or drink that holds the key to fertility, there simply is not. The best advice on diet is to eat balanced healthy meals and maintain your weight between a BMI of 20 and 30. Women whose BMI is greater than 30 or less than 20 are prone to have more difficulty getting pregnant.
If you have other questions about natural fertility please feel free to contact us, we would be happy to chat with you.