Trying to Conceive? The Do's and Don'ts to Boosting Fertility

About 80 percent of couples conceive within their first year of trying. (Photo: Bushtiuc Film/Shutterstock)

Thinking about having a baby? There are a number of things you can do that will not only boost your fertility but also help ensure that you're in tip-top condition when it's time for your body to start building that baby. We sat down with Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, to cover the do's and don'ts for women who are trying to conceive.

Do quit smoking. And of course no drugs or excessive drinking. "All women who are trying to conceive should be leading exemplary lives," said Dr. Minkin. While many women cut out the booze altogether just to be safe, Dr. Minkin notes that women who are hoping to become pregnant should limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. If you have an issue with drugs, alcohol or tobacco now is the time to get yourself sorted out. Don't wait until you become pregnant to do so.

Don't stop exercising. Many women fear that having a active lifestyle will somehow crimp their fertility, but that's not the case. Of course, you should check with your doctor first, but the general rule of thumb is that if you're already active, you can keep on exercising throughout your pregnancy as long as you still feel good. If you are not active, talk to your doc about starting some light activity like walking or swimming so you can be in the best shape possible for your pregnancy.

Do get your diet on track. You don't need to aim for perfection here, but you want to make sure that your body has all of the good stuff it needs even — especially at the early stages of your pregnancy. So that means you shouldn't wait until your pregnancy is confirmed to clean up your diet. Start adding in those extra fruits and veggies now and cut back on the processed foods that are likely high in preservatives and additives. Minkin recommends that women who are trying to get pregnant start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid even before they conceive (folic acid has been shown to reduce the likelihood of birth defects.)

Tracking ovulation with thermometer
There are a number of kits and apps you can use to track your 'fertility signs' so that you will know when you are most likely to get pregnant. (Photo: Piotr Adamowicz/Shutterstock)

Don't use regular lubricants, According to Minkin, many water-based lubricants can hinder sperm and their motility. But she also understands that sometimes — especially when trying to conceive — a lubricant might be in order. " 'Sex on demand' may not be the world's most romantic!" she noted. Minkin suggests using a "fertility-friendly" lubricant such as Pre-Seed, which has been studied by infertility experts and has been shown to maintain healthy sperm activities.

Do get familiar with your cycle. If you want to maximize your sexual activity on ovulation days, you could try using an ovulation predictor kit or app (yes, there are a number of apps for this) to make sure you're hitting the best days. But Minkin notes that if you see any irregularities, such as if the tracker indicates that you are not ovulating, you should check in with your doctor for guidance.

Don't get stressed. Nobody ever wants to hear that they should "just relax," especially when they're trying to get pregnant. But more and more research has shown that stress and anxiety can affect your fertility. So if you're having a hard time coping, it's worth reaching out to your support group — your partner, your mom, your friends, or your doctor — to find a solution.

Do plan to snuggle. While there are no studies that conclusively prove that lying on your back after having sex will improve your chances of getting pregnant, there's at least one study that found that when women lay on their backs for 15 minutes after undergoing IVF treatment, they boosted their odds of pregnancy compared to women who were encouraged to get up and move around. In other words, it can't hurt to lie still for at least a few minutes after sex to give those little swimmers a chance to get where they need to go. Sounds like a good excuse for some snuggling!

According to Minkin, 50 percent of couples get pregnant after six months of trying and 80 percent get pregnant within one year. So if you're under 35, give it a year and if you still aren't having any luck, it's time to check in with your doc. Over 35? You should check in with your doctor after six months to make sure there aren't any underlying issues.