When you’re trying to conceive, sometimes you can feel like the odds are stacked against you. We recognize the challenges that many couples face and want to provide you with helpful advice from a variety of fertility experts on things that may be standing between you and that coveted + sign on your pregnancy test.
Here are three unexpected things that could hinder conception.
Dr. Setareh Tais, ND, a licensed naturopathic doctor with a specialty in integrative reproductive endocrinology, says that many of her patients simply need a refresher course on how their cycles work.
“In my practice, I have found that many women assume that they ovulate around day 14 of their cycle. Once I teach them about ovulation and tracking their fertility signs using the methods of natural family planning, they are often surprised by the timing of their true fertile period. It is crucial that couples understand how to determine their fertile period so that they can properly time intercourse.”
Eagle Acupuncture’s Kristen N. Burris L.Ac. agrees, and takes Dr. Setareh’s sentiment a step further. “They're doing it wrong. That right, I said it. Surprisingly, a lot of women don't know when they are actually ovulating.”
Burris explains, “Scanty cervical fluid can make it difficult for their donor’s gift to move easily towards its goal, the released egg. There are several ways to detect ovulation, the easiest being an ovulation monitor, the daunting: temperature charting and the less reliable, physical signs and symptoms.”
Can what you eat really hinder conception? Brianna Gray, M.S. from Brigham and Women's Hospital shared her thoughts on the correlation between diet and fertility in a recent article at InteliHealth.com called Can Your Diet Affect Fertility? “Simple, inexpensive changes to your diet and lifestyle could greatly improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Choose a well-balanced diet that is mostly based on low GI carbohydrates, plant-based proteins and healthy fats.”
Many couples assume that the best sex strategy for getting pregnant is to not waste the man’s sperm by having sex too often. The thinking is that having more sperm in his reserves will lead to a greater chance of conceiving, however, “saving up” sperm in this way can actually be counterproductive and hinder conception.
The reality is that having sex more often boosts a man’s testosterone levels which leads to him producing a greater quantity and quality of sperm. In fact, research suggests that to achieve optimal sperm production, a man should ejaculate every day, so don’t hold back! When it comes to the best sex routine for conception, more is actually more.
Many couples swear by certain sexual positions when they are trying to conceive. However, regardless of what your Aunt Trudy or Cheryl at work told you, the truth is that there is no sexual position that gives you any better chance of conceiving than any other.
The reason this is a problem for couples is that they can get so dedicated to one position that it can suck all of the fun out of sex — which can be a problem when you’re trying to conceive. In this case the best sex positions are the ones that allow you to experience the most pleasure with your partner. So don’t be afraid to mix it up and enjoy the process.
It’s a common misconception that fertility problems are largely a woman’s issue, however, this simply isn’t the case. In as many as 20% of couples who are experiencing problems with fertility, the problem lies exclusively with the male partner. If a couple assumes that the trouble that they are having with conceiving is only coming from the woman, they could potentially be missing the real problem — and the opportunity to get treatment.
Another reason to make sure to have both partners checked for fertility issues is that in many cases the treatment for male infertility is less invasive and less expensive than the treatment for female infertility. For example, a single round of IVF can cost $12,000. While that is a necessary step for many couples, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re dropping that kind of cash if you have other options.
A woman might only ovulate on one day a month, but that doesn’t mean that is the only day that she can get pregnant. A man’s sperm can live in a woman’s body for up to five days and it can be difficult to predict your ovulation day with complete accuracy. That’s why the best sex strategy for couples who are trying to conceive is to have sex during the 3 - 5 days before ovulation and for 1 - 3 days after as well.
If you aren’t ovulating correctly it can make it extremely difficult to conceive. What most women don’t realize is that untreated infections like Chlamydia can actually block the fallopian tubes, preventing the woman’s egg from getting where it needs to go. And unfortunately, just because you don’t have symptoms of an STI, doesn’t mean that you can assume you are in the clear.
That’s right — it’s entirely possible to have Chlamydia and not even know it. In fact, a large percentage of cases go unreported every year because many women who contract the infection will never have symptoms. Yikes! So if you’re having fertility issues, make sure that you and your partner get checked out to make sure that there isn’t a sneaky STI at the root of the problem.
Weight can play a huge role in fertility for both men and women. For a woman, being underweight or overweight can cause irregularities in her cycle and disrupt ovulation. For a man, being underweight or overweight can affect sperm count. So if you think that your or your partner’s weight might be playing a role in hindering conception talk to your doctor.
There are countless different kinds of medications out there, each with their own unique set of potential side effects — and for many of these medications, the side effects can include fertility issues. If you or your partner are taking any kind of medication regularly, it is possible that these medications (or even a combination of the medications you are taking) could be making it more difficult to conceive.
If you think that this might be the case, you should speak to your doctor. He or she will be the best equipped to help you figure out if your medications could be hindering your ability to conceive, and if so, how to move forward. Don’t stop taking prescribed medications without talking to your doctor first as this could cause further health complications.
Now that you have a better idea of when you should have sex and how often you should have it, let’s address the elephant in the room -- making said intercourse more enjoyable! That is our specialty, after all.
Some studies indicated that personal lubricants can hinder conception by damaging sperm and interfering with their motility. This is why certain obstetricians recommend that their patients avoid lube when trying to conceive. For decades, Astroglide has been committed to helping couples enjoy the most pleasurable sexual experiences possible, and we believe that enjoyment should also be part of the process when you’re trying to get pregnant. This is why we’ve developed our new Astroglide TTC sperm-friendly lubricant to help support couples trying to conceive while continuing to enjoy comfortable, pleasurable sexual activity.
Studies show that Astroglide TTC allows sperm to travel freely unlike traditional lubricants. The pH and osmolality of our new product is compatible with sperm, oocytes and embryos. Furthermore, Astroglide TTC contains two ingredients found in semen: galactose and fructose, the latter of which composes about 70% of seminal vesicle fluid.
What does this mean for you?
We realize that pregnancy happens more easily for some couples than others, but either way it’s important to stack the odds in your favor so as not to hinder conception. Whether you’re trying to become a first-time parent or you’ve already had children and want to take advantage of the latest developments in fertility to make this attempt more enjoyable, Astroglide TTC ensures that you no longer have to choose between getting pregnant and having comfortable sex. Our new sperm-safe lube was designed to make the road to fertility success as favorable and pleasurable as possible.
If you have any questions about how personal lubricant affects fertility or have personal experiences that would be helpful to other would-be parents, please share your comments below.
Images are for illustrative purposes only.