If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve probably come across the phrase “fertility health,” and you might be a little fuzzy on what that means. Let’s start with “fertility.” Simply put, fertility is the ability to get pregnant naturally. “Health” includes all the positive physical and mental steps you can take (and negative paths you can avoid) to promote fertility.
Understanding fertility is an important part of conception — and misconceptions abound. Here, we cover some physical and mental steps you can take to promote fertility and give tips on how your partner or a loved one can support you on your journey.
Fertility and ovulation 101
The No. 1 lesson in understanding fertility is this: You can only get pregnant around the time in your cycle when you ovulate, a time frame commonly referred to as your “fertility window.” Tracking your menstrual cycle and using tools to determine exactly when you ovulate is one of the best ways to boost your chances of pregnancy. Your time of peak fertility occurs the day before and the day of ovulation. Recognizing physical signs of ovulation and using ovulation tests to detect your key fertility hormones can provide you with a better understanding of when to have sex for conception.
As you learn more about ovulation, fertility and conception, remember that for centuries the topic of fertility health has been awash with superstition. Maybe you’ve been told by a well-meaning aunt or friend that raising your legs after sex helps the sperm on their journey, drinking cough syrup will loosen up your cervical mucus, or that you need to have an orgasm to conceive. These are all myths. Additionally, studies are regularly published with conflicting evidence on everything from diet and exercise to caffeine and vitamins.
How do you cut through the noise and separate fact from fiction? Talk to your doctor. They will offer you the best tips based on the latest studies and your lifestyle, age and goals.
A holistic mind and body approach to better fertility health
Following are science-backed steps you can take to boost your fertility.
The male factor: Tips for increasing male fertility
If your partner is male and you’re not using a sperm donor, know that his fertility plays a part, too. This may mean some lifestyle changes. He should not smoke or take recreational drugs. If he consumes more than 10-14 drinks a week, he should reduce his alcohol intake. If he’s having sex with multiple partners, it’s important that he practices safe sex. If he’s obese, he should try to lose some weight. Avoiding high heat around his testicles (such as his laptop or hot tubs) can help, too. Your ob-gyn can provide tips and guidance as well.
For years you may have viewed getting pregnant as something that sometimes happens after unprotected sex. Now you know it’s so much more than that. But whether you get pregnant on the first try or the tenth, good fertility health can only be positive for both conception and the pregnancy ahead.
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