Though there’s no guaranteed shortcut to getting pregnant fast, there are several things you can do now to prep your body and create a more favorable environment for conceiving and growing a baby. This is important for both the person with the egg and the person with the sperm—because an embryo gets half of its DNA from each. You’ll want all reproductive cells to have the right amount of essential nutrients for their optimal health and function. For your best odds of getting pregnant fast, both sperm and eggs should be supported with healthy diet and lifestyle choices. That paired with cycle tracking and strategic timing of sex/insemination can help you save time when trying to conceive.
(Before we dive in, a quick level set: Although some people can get pregnant their first cycle of trying, that isn’t the norm. Even amongst a group of people with the best prognosis (for example, a very healthy person with eggs in their mid-twenties), the chances of conceiving in the first year of trying average between 15 to 25 percent per cycle. For someone with eggs who is trying at age 40, their chance of conception is around 3 to 9 percent per cycle. Also, note that the percentages aren't additive, meaning a 25 percent chance per cycle doesn't mean you will have a 100 percent chance of conceiving in four cycles.)
1. Start taking a prenatal.
If you’re thinking of getting pregnant, the first thing you should do is to start taking a daily prenatal and making sure to get enough Folic Acid. Nutrients like Folic Acid are required at the earliest stages of pregnancy to ensure proper closing of the developing spinal cord and brain—something that happens in the first few weeks after conception. It’s recommended to get 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily and to start as soon as possible (ideally three months before you start trying) to ensure adequate levels. (All Bird&Be prenatals include 400 mcg of Folic Acid as well as an extra 600 mcg of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), the active form of Folic Acid, for those whose body can’t process or use standard Folic Acid efficiently.)
Other nutrients that are key for getting pregnant include CoQ10 and Vitamin D, which can improve sperm and egg quality. And yes, men and people with sperm can benefit from a prenatal too. Making sperm and testosterone both rely on key nutrients such as Zinc and Selenium. Fertilization capabilities alone require minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc. And other nutrients, such as Omega-3 DHA and Choline, are necessary for proper structure and function of the sperm head. One thing to steer clear of? Male prenatal supplements should be Iron-free since high Iron levels can actually be detrimental to sperm.
The Powers for Males packs everything you need to help boost sperm count, enhance motility and morphology (normal forms) and provide protection from DNA damage. Meanwhile, The Powers for Females prepares eggs and the body with essential bioavailable nutrients that support fetal brain development, hormone function, and more.
2. Stop smoking and significantly reduce or eliminate alcohol.
It’s no surprise that toxins like tobacco, nicotine and alcohol can negatively affect fertility. Not only does it take a vast amount of nutrient resources to detoxify these in the body and remove them, but their exposure also decreases egg and sperm quality.
Smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol all cause DNA damage and cellular aging, plus they interfere with hormone regulation. Indirectly, these substances affect the circadian rhythm—the sleep-wake cycle which regulates the release of hormones.
This is something that both the person with eggs and the person with sperm needs to pay attention to. Depending on how long and how much you or your partner have been smoking or drinking, it can take months or even years to recover sperm and egg quality. That’s why quitting ASAP is critical. The egg and sperm that will make your baby begin developing and maturing three months before they 'meet' and merge.
3. Clean up your diet.
Paying attention to what you eat can help improve your odds of getting pregnant, because ultimately, everything you put into your body affects your reproductive health. To start, get rid of the fatty and fried foods that can cause inflammation and throw off your cholesterol. The body needs a healthy cholesterol ratio—higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol—for good blood flow to the reproductive organs and to make sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
Next, you’ll want to avoid foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates (think: white breads, white rice, pastries and cookies), which cause chronic spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. This can lead to insulin resistance as well as diabetes. High insulin acts directly on the ovaries and changes the production of hormones, interfering and even halting egg development. Insulin resistance is also associated with major hormonal and health pathologies like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fatty liver and cardiovascular disease.
Instead, aim for a Mediterranean-like diet that’s high in vegetables, whole grains, vegetarian fiber and protein, eggs and Omega-3-rich fish. Reduce or eliminate the intake of processed foods, red meat and fried foods. You can still indulge in sugary sweets and treats on occasion, but they shouldn’t be a habit. Need a treat? Try a square of dark (80% or more cocoa) chocolate.
4. Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night.
Short sleeps and late bedtimes can negatively affect fertility, and this includes those who work nights or irregular hours. Some studies have shown that it can take longer for female shift- and night-workers to get pregnant compared to those who work regular day hours.
You’ve probably heard of the sleep hormone Melatonin. Did you know that humans have Melatonin receptors everywhere including the ovaries, testes and embryo? Melatonin is also a key antioxidant that helps protect eggs before they’re ovulated, while also regulating other hormones such as FSH and LH. Studies have shown that supplementing with Melatonin can improve egg and embryo quality and pregnancy rates. And in male fertility, Melatonin benefits testicular function and sex hormone levels and also protects against sperm DNA damage, all of which improve the probability of conceiving.
To get the most from your shuteye, aim for 7.5 to 8 hours per night (or per day if you work nights), and consider a Melatonin supplement if you work irregular hours or just tend to get poor sleep.
5. Exercise regularly.
Along with being great for your overall health, physical activity prepares the body for the changes that come along in pregnancy and childbirth. Exercise improves circulation and blood flow throughout the body, and to the reproductive organs. It keeps insulin and blood sugar levels regulated which is important for a successful implantation.
Being physically active also promotes better hormone balance and helps reduce obesity, which improves your chances of becoming pregnant and carrying to term. Pairing those workouts with enough dietary protein builds muscle and burns excess fat. This works in favour of those with ovulatory problems (including long cycles and absent periods) that are caused by too low or too high BMI (body mass index) or body fat percentage. For females, a BMI in the range of 19 to 24 (with body fat between 18 to 24 percent) is most favourable for the cycling of sex hormones, egg development and ovulation, and is associated with a decreased risk of miscarriage.
In a study that looked at exercise habits before IVF, compared to sedentary individuals, those that participated in exercise had significantly more clinical pregnancies and live births. In one particular study of obese women undergoing IVF, 39 percent of those who exercised regularly before their IVF cycle had a positive clinical pregnancy compared to 16 percent of those who were sedentary. The live birth rate was also significantly greater at 24 versus 7 percent, respectively.
Getting your sweat on also helps decrease stress and anxiety, and improve sleep—try aerobics, jogging, swimming, cycling, kickboxing and dancing. And don’t forget some strength-training too. Building muscle helps with blood sugar regulation, hormone regulation and body composition. Try using resistance bands, light free weights, kettlebells or just your own body weight.
All that said, you don’t need to go overboard. In fact, overexercising can be detrimental for fertility, so skip the ultramarathons and triathlons before trying to conceive. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days, for a total of about 150 minutes per week.
6. Start tracking your ovulation.
One of the biggest keys to getting pregnant fast? Make sure you’re having sex or inseminating at the right time in your cycle. And yes, there’s an app for that, but it’ll need you to do most of the work. A menstrual cycle tracking app is a great tool to help you monitor your cycle patterns but their accuracy in predicting your ovulation relies completely on the information you give it.
There are a few things you can monitor to figure out if and when you’re ovulating. Start with the basics: track your cycle length and days of flow. Then, after menstrual bleeding stops, pay attention to changes in vaginal discharge and cervical mucus. Clear, stretchy and slippery mucus indicates that you’re in your fertile window and that ovulation will happen soon. You may notice this type of mucus for up to five or six days before ovulating. Tracking it will help pinpoint your most fertile days.
Understanding changes in your cervical mucus can take some getting used to. To help you get a clear read on your fertile window, try our at-home Ovulation Tests (they’re over 99.9% accurate!). Also sometimes called ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), these urine-based tests detect your LH levels—the hormone that surges 12 to 36 hours before your egg is released.
And though it won’t predict when you’ll ovulate (which is key to timing intercourse/insemination), you can measure your basal body temperature (BBT) to confirm that ovulation has happened and to better understand your cycle. After the egg is released, the leftover shell, called the corpus luteum, releases progesterone. That rise in progesterone, which helps the uterine lining to thicken, also causes a small increase in your resting (basal) body temperature.
It's a teeny increase, so you’ll want to measure your BBT as accurately as possible. Take your temperature every day first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, using a thermometer that measures to the tenth of a degree. Although you may see some small (about 0.2 degrees Celsius) differences day-to-day, larger jumps in temperature (greater than 0.4 degrees Celsius) typically indicate that rise in progesterone. It’s estimated that ovulation occurs the day before that initial temperature leap. From there, your temp should remain elevated until your next period when progesterone levels drop again (if you’re pregnant, you won’t see that drop in temperature).
Tracking all, or even two, of these can help improve the accuracy of figuring out when (and if) you’re ovulating. If you’re using a fertility or cycle app, your app can take your tracking information and pump it out into a calendar, predicting your fertile window in future cycles so you’ll know when it’s prime baby-making time.
7. Reduce stress as much as you can.
Stress is a normal part of life and can even be healthy, but only if it's short-lasting so that you get a break from it. Chronic stress, including generalized anxiety, can lead to poorer reproductive outcomes. That’s because the hormonal pathway that activates our stress hormones also affects the pathways of our sex hormones in the ovaries. Long-standing stress can affect egg growth and ovulation, and has even been associated with increased time to conception and lower egg reserves.
Try journaling, breathing exercises, artistic outlets or listening to a guided meditation before bed (we’ve also curated self-care sets to help you unwind). Reach out to your support people, friends and/or therapist. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress, with the added benefit of supporting your fertility at the same time.
8. Try to enjoy sex!
Many couples who try to conceive via intercourse quickly find that sex becomes rather, well, unsexy. It can come with a lot of pressure and scheduling. But it may be worth finding a way to let loose: studies suggest that an orgasm during intercourse can actually help you get pregnant! And if you’re doing this journey solo with insemination, don't discount the power of masturbation and orgasming.
Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone” is the feel-good hormone that is released when we’re close or skin-to-skin with someone we care for or desire. Oxytocin also gets released during an orgasm and causes specialized uterine contractions. This uterine activity changes the internal pressure and helps pull sperm up toward the dominant ovary’s fallopian tube. Having an orgasm can also prevent sperm and semen backflow. A small preliminary study found that female orgasm led to a 15.7 percent greater retention of fluid in a model of insemination.
Plus, of course, having an orgasm (or lots of them, regularly!) is associated with greater couple satisfaction. It’s harder to be stressed if your body is relaxed and feeling the effects of pleasure and sexual satisfaction. Need an energy boost? Supplementing with certain nutrients can improve your mood and energy to help enhance your sexual appetite.
Although these tips can help you optimize your reproductive health and strategically time intercourse/insemination, it’s important to recognize that you may not get pregnant your first month trying. However, if you’ve been trying for more than 12 months unsuccessfully, (six months if you're over 35), or if you’ve had any warning signs of infertility like irregular cycles, sexual or erectile difficulties, or pelvic or genital pain, it’s time to see a fertility doctor.