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What Not to Do if You Want to Get Pregnant

Habits and Practices to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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If you want to get pregnant, just as there are things you should do, there are also things you should not do. What not to do is less commonly known, and some of the tips below may surprise you.

Do Not Only Have Sex When You're Ovulating

You may already know that you're most fertile during the two days before and day of ovulation. A variety of methods exist for pinpointing the ovulation period, including using ovulation predictor kits, charting your body basal temperature, or checking cervical mucus changes. However, this doesn't mean you should only have sex when you're ovulating.

Research has found that frequent sex makes for healthier sperm. The sex you have before you're fertile may boost your chances of getting good swimmers when it counts. Even after ovulation, sex may improve your chances of getting pregnant, though the research in this area is sparse and ongoing. (The theory is that semen may play a role in embryo development and implantation.)

Another very good reason to have sex all month and not just when you're ovulating: it reduces stress for your partner. One study found increased levels of erectile dysfunction and even increased martial affairs in couples who focus on timed intercourse instead of just having sex regularly. For some men, the pressure to perform during ovulation is too intense. If timed sex is hurting your relationship, forget about it and just try to have sex about three times a week all month long instead.

More on sex for pregnancy:

Do Not Ignore the Importance of Passion and Fun

Getting pregnant isn't about passionate sex; it's just about intercourse, right? Well, it's not quite so simple. Research into the role of passion and conception is ongoing, but it appears that pleasurable sex may make it more likely you'll conceive than "quickie" sex.

According to a few research studies, lengthier foreplay was found to increase the quantity of sperm, and increased sexual arousal was also found to increase sperm concentrations. For the woman, foreplay often means more cervical fluids, which are essential in helping the sperm swim and survive the vaginal environment. Longer foreplay may also increase the chances of female orgasm, another possible boost to conception.

Does this mean having sex when you're not in the mood won't lead to pregnancy? Not quite. Quickies often lead to conception, and as many couples who have had timed intercourse via doctor's orders during fertility treatment can tell you, even sex under stress leads to pregnancy. However, passion and fun -- if you can find the energy for it -- may boost your odds, plus make the entire experience less stressful.

More about pleasure and fertility:

Do Not Use Personal Lubricants like Astroglide or KY Jelly

Sex is more comfortable and more pleasurable when you're well lubricated, and while sometimes the body provides great lubrication (especially around the time of ovulation), other times you need some help. If you want to get pregnant, however, do not reach for the typical lubricants found at your local pharmacy, like Astroglide or KY Jelly.

Studies have found that many lubricants are harmful to sperm, something you don't want when trying to get pregnant. The good news is there are fertility-friendly options to try.

More about lubricants and fertility:

Do Not Use Vaginal Douche Products

Vaginal douches are squirt bottles or bags with an attached tube used to "rinse" the vagina by squirting fluid up and into the vaginal canal. They are usually a mixture of water and vinegar and frequently contain perfumes meant to cover up natural (and healthy!) vaginal scents. About 20 to 40% of women use "vaginal hygiene" douche products.

If you're a douche user and you're trying to get pregnant, you should seriously consider dropping the habit. According to one study, women who used vaginal douches were 30% less likely to conceive in any given month when compared to women who don't douche. Douching has other negative health implications as well, including higher risk of vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy.

If you're douching because your vaginal odors are particularly pungent or have a strong fishy smell, see your doctor. Unpleasant vaginal odors could be a sign of vaginal infection, which is incidentally another possible cause of decreased fertility.

It's also wise to avoid scented tampons, pads, vaginal sprays, and powders, as they may cause irritation that can lead to infection. (Whether scented tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products affect fertility hasn't been well research yet.)

Do Not Wait a Long Time to Seek Help with Trying to Conceive

How soon you'll conceive is dependent on a number of factors, many of them out of your control. If you don't get pregnant in the first month, take heart: less than 40% of couples do. On the other hand, 81% of couples conceive after six months.

If you've been trying for six months and you're over 35 -- or you've been trying for a year and you're under 35 years of age -- then you should see your doctor. Please don't delay. One survey of trying to conceive couples found that while 62% of women had been trying for longer than a year, only two-thirds had sought help.

Some forms of infertility worsen with time. Delaying treatment may make significantly lower your potential for pregnancy success. Age is also a factor, and this is why women over age 35 should only try for six months before seeking help.

Sometimes people delay seeking treatment because they assume treatment is unattainable, usually due to lack of funds. Not all fertility treatments are expensive, and it's possible what you need to get pregnant will turn out to be something affordable and within your budget. The only way to find out, however, is to see your doctor and go through fertility testing. If recommended treatments do end up going past your budget, then you can choose not to pursue them.

More things not to do:

Sources:

Bak CW, Lyu SW, Seok HH, Byun JS, Lee JH, Shim SH, Yoon TK. "Erectile Dysfunction and Extramarital Sex Induced by Timed Intercourse: A Prospective Study of 439 Men." Journal of Andrology. 2012 May 3.

Baker, R. Robin, Bellis, Mark A. "Human Sperm Competition: ejaculate manipulation by females and a function for the female orgasm." Animal Behavior. 1993, 46, 887-909.

Cottrell BH. "An updated review of of evidence to discourage douching." MCN. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 2010 Mar-Apr;35(2):102-7; quiz 108-9.

D D Baird, C R Weinberg, L F Voigt, and J R Daling. "Vaginal douching and reduced fertility." American Journal of Public Health. 1996 June; 86(6): 844-850.

Douching fact sheet. WomensHealth.gov. Accessed August 13, 2012. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/douching.cfm

Kukulu K. "Vaginal douching practices and beliefs in Turkey." Culture, Health, and Sexuality.. 2006 Jul-Aug;8(4):371-8.

Levin, Roy J. "The Physiology of Sexual Arousal in the Human Female: A Recreational and Procreational Synthesis." Archives of Sexual Behavior. Volume 31, Number 5, 405-411.

Pound N, Javed MH, Ruberto C, Shaikh MA, Del Valle AP. "Duration of sexual arousal predicts semen parameters for masturbatory ejaculates." Physiology and Behavior. 2002 Aug;76(4-5):685-9.

Tremellen KP, Valbuena D, Landeras J, Ballesteros A, Martinez J, Mendoza S, Norman RJ, Robertson SA, Simón C. "The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction." Human Reproduction. 2000 Dec;15(12):2653-8.

van Roijen JH, Slob AK, Gianotten WL, Dohle GR, van der Zon AT, Vreeburg JT, Weber RF. "Sexual arousal and the quality of semen produced by masturbation." Human Reproduction. 1996 Jan;11(1):147-51.

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