Think there’s nothing else you can do? Think again. Chances are, you’ve been overlooking some of the best ways to boost fertility.
Just when does ovulation happen? If you don’t know, you’re not alone.
- Get tested for chlamydia and thyroid problems.
Chlamydia can wreak havoc on fertility if untreated. This sexually transmitted disease (STD) is often asymptomatic, so you’ll need to get tested regardless of how you feel.
Thyroid problems can also contribute to infertility. And like chlamydia, these too can appear without symptoms. Worse still, the traditional test – TSH – isn’t always enough, according to Mary Shomon, patient advocate and author of The Thyroid Guide to Fertility, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Success (2003). The best advice? Ask your doctor for a thyroid profile, says Shomon.
- Change when (and how) you have sex.
To increase your chances of getting pregnant, you should be having sex three days before, one day before and the day after ovulation occurs, says Dr. Jay S. Schinfeld, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Abington Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania.
And just when does ovulation happen? If you don’t know, you’re not alone, says Dr. Frederick Licciardi, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU School of Medicine. “Some women think they ovulate when they get their period,” he says. “And there are women who think they ovulate five days after their period stops.” The truth? Most women ovulate two weeks before their menstrual period starts, or thereabouts. So tracking your cycle is a good idea.
There are other ways to determine ovulation. Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) can help. (You’ll need a special thermometer to do this.) After ovulation, your temperature can rise 0.5 to 1.6 degrees. Keeping an eye out for abdominal pain is also wise: It signals ovulation in some women. You can also use an ovulation detection kit, available over the counter. (If you ovulate irregularly or not at all, you should consult your doctor.)
In addition to changing when you have sex, you might also want to change how you have it. The rear-entry position is thought to increase pregnancy rates in women with a tipped uterus. What do you do if this position is uncomfortable or undesirable? Lay on your belly for 10 to 15 minutes after sex, says Dr. Schinfeld.
- Lose weight.
If you’re overweight, shedding some pounds can help you get pregnant. Just ask Haley Morris.
When she was trying to conceive her first child, she was told she had a polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that negatively affects ovulation. Morris was surprised to learn her PCOS was affected by weight. “I never heard of weight-related infertility until I tried to get pregnant,” she says.
Morris tried to slim down naturally but didn’t have much luck. “A reproductive endocrinologist sent me to a nutritionist,” she says. “I tried to lose weight with the nutritionist for over six months. I managed to lose around 30 pounds, but gained it back.”
Morris was beginning to think she’d never conceive. She had heard of weight-loss surgery before but knew she couldn’t afford it. When she learned it could be fully covered by insurance, she decided to give it a shot. It was a smart move: Shortly after the surgery, she conceived.
- Feed him oysters.
Women aren’t the only ones with fertility problems: Many men have them, as well. To help your guy become more potent, Dr. Schinfeld suggests increasing the zinc in his diet. An easy way to do this is by feeding him oysters, as the food is packed with the fertility-enhancing mineral.
- Use egg white as a lubricant.
Even if you’ve never needed lubricant before, you may now. Having a lot of sex can make you very dry, says Dr. Schinfeld.
If you do need help in the moisture department, don’t reach for the K-Y. It – and most other common lubricants – can hurt sperm. So what’s the solution? Believe it or not, egg whites. The food can actually increase your chances of conceiving, says Dr. Schinfeld. And there are other advantages to it as well. “It doesn’t smell,” he says. “It feels like a woman when she is excited. And it’s been proven safe.”
- Don’t listen to the experts.
When your doctor tells you there’s nothing more he can do, you may feel like giving up. But doctors aren’t always right. Consider the following story.
Julia Indichova was diagnosed with elevated FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels while trying to conceive her second child. “I was basically pronounced hopeless, beyond repair,” she says.
Indichova felt desperate. Still, she was determined to conceive. “I wasn’t ready to pack it in,” she says.
So Indichova began a self-healing regimen. She changed her diet, eliminating many items, including dairy, most meat, and white flour. She also decided to work through some emotional issues. “I developed a number of imagery exercises that helped me,” she says. “For example, I created one called ‘An Inside Job.’ I imagine I’m standing in the middle of a house. I hear voices coming from different parts of the house. These voices question whether or not I should have a child. They question whether I deserve one. I invite all these voices to join me in the living room and I face each of them.”
Eight months after starting her program, Indichova conceived – naturally. She has since chronicled her struggle in the book Inconceivable: A Woman’s Triumph over Despair and Statistics (Broadway Books, 2001). Today, she teaches others her methods in workshops.
While there’s no definitive proof Indichova’s methods work, her story does illustrate one very important lesson: Hope can be the best fertility booster of all.