When you're not trying to have a baby, getting pregnant seems like the easiest thing in the world. But once you put getting pregnant on your to-do list, it might seem that the process of conception is full of pitfalls. As many as 84 percent of women will get pregnant within one year of having unprotected sex, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, but you can take steps to help you achieve your goal in the least amount of time possible.
Track Your Menstrual Cycle
It's easy to lose track of when your last period was if you have a busy life. But knowing how often your periods occur and how long they last can help you figure out when you're most likely to get pregnant. It can also help you pinpoint potential problems, such as menstrual cycles that occur too close together or too far apart, or menstrual periods that are too long or too short. Most women have periods that last three to five days and occur every 21 to 35 days. If you fall outside these parameters, talk to your gynecologist.
Check Your Cervical Mucas
Checking your cervical mucus each day is an easy way to help you determine when you might be ovulating. Since you can only get pregnant if you release an egg from an ovary, pinpointing the time can help ensure that you have sex around the time of ovulation. As ovulation approaches, cervical mucus changes from thick and scant to clear, slippery and very stretchy. Having sex every two to three days ensures that your egg will be met by sperm as it moves down the fallopian tubes.
Taking multivitamins three or more times a week could reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility by 20 percent, a study published in the March 2008 issue of "Fertility and Sterility" reports. This might be related to the increased intake of B vitamins, particularly folic acid, which also reduces the risk of neural tube defects in a fetus, the authors theorized.
Too much and too little exercise can affect fertility. In a Norwegian study reported in the October 2009 issue of Human Reproduction, women who exercised vigorously for at least 60 minutes each day had around a 12 percent risk of subfertility, compared to 3.9 percent of those who exercised 16 to 30 minutes daily. Seven percent of women who exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per day reported subfertility. A sedentary lifestyle also is associated with an increased risk of infertility, according to the Reproductive Health Technologies Project.
Say No to Smoking
Tobacco is a drug that can affect your fertility. An analysis of studies published in the June 1998 issue of Human Reproduction found that female smokers were 60 percent more likely to experience infertility than non-smokers. Smoking may reduce ovarian reserve — the number of eggs in the ovaries — and might also raise follicle stimulating hormone levels, which can also indicate low ovarian reserve. Smokers also have lower levels of progesterone, the hormone that maintains the uterine lining for implantation after ovulation. Menopause occurs one to four years earlier in smokers than in non-smokers, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reports. Passive smoking poses many of the same risks as active smoking.