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March 10, 2013, last updated April 20, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Some women seem to get pregnant just by thinking about it.
Other women find it much more difficult. For many couples,
getting pregnant takes a little time and plenty of patience –
plus a bit of luck. Understanding the process of getting
pregnant – more than the basics, which we assume you’re
aware of already! – can help, as can trying some natural
techniques and remedies. If you are wondering why you’re
not pregnant already, here’s what you need to know.

Understanding Ovulation to Get Pregnant

Getting pregnant is a rather miraculous process if you stop
to think about it. The conditions for conception must all be
aligned and a large number of factors seem to conspire
against the sperm meeting an egg and successfully achieving

If you are finding it difficult to get pregnant, you need to
understand the process of ovulation – the critical window of
time for conception. Every month you release an egg from
your ovaries which travels to a fallopian tube. This is the
time you can get pregnant but how do you know when you
are ovulating? Does it happen at the same time each month?

You can watch the calendar. Mark the day your period
begins and track how long it lasts. If you have a regular
cycle ovulation is most likely to happen halfway through it –
14 days after the day your period began if you have a 28-
day cycle. For women with irregular cycles it can be much
harder to predict ovulation. Also look out for changes in
your body – an increase in vaginal discharge is one sign.
Some women track their basal body temperature, for which
you will need a special thermometer, or use a predictor kit to
test your urine for the hormones that signal ovulation.

I’m Still Not Pregnant – Should I Seek Help?

Most couples that try to get pregnant naturally and who are
having intercourse every two to three days are expecting
within the first three months. But watch out – there are
many factors that affect how long it takes to get pregnant
such as general health, fertility issues, and when and how
often you have sex. Medical conditions that may contribute
to fertility problems in women include conditions affecting
the uterus and ovulation, pelvic inflammatory disease which
can cause blockage of the fallopian tubes, and endometriosis.

If you are under 35 and you are trying for a baby, experts
suggest trying for a year before seeking assistance from a
fertility specialist. Women over the age of 35 should get help
if they haven’t fallen pregnant after six months of active
trying. But why does age matter?

Your Fertility Falls Off a Cliff After Age 35

Doctors have long been telling women that it becomes more
difficult to get pregnant for every year above the age of 35.
But what about men? Your partner is 50, for example – is his
age affecting your ability to get pregnant?

In your twenties you have a greater number of eggs in your
ovaries and a bigger percentage of these eggs are
genetically good. Women are born with all the eggs you will
ever use so it makes sense that as you get older, there are
fewer eggs remaining. According to the Southern California
Center for Reproductive Medicine the rate of pregnancy per
month for a woman in her 20s is 20 to 25 percent. When
you reach your 30s the rate is about 15 percent. After the
age of 35 the rate falls to around 10 percent a month and
there is a sharp decline above the age of 40 – the fertility
rate per month drops to only five percent.

But pay attention, guys – it’s not just women whose clocks
are ticking. According to Dr. H Fisch at the Male Reproductive
Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University
Medical Center
men over 35 are twice as likely to be infertile
as those under 25,
although men remain fertile generally for
much longer and when fertility declines it does so gradually.

The increasing age of the man is associated with a decline in
semen volume and a slow-down of sperm movement,
according to a 2001 study from the University of California,
Berkeley. The study compared 30-year-old men to 50-year-
old men and, when controlling for the woman’s age, the
pregnancy rate decreased by between 23 and 38 percent
during this time period. Many experts are worried – it seems
like the quality of sperm has been decreasing over the past
50 years, making it more difficult to achieve pregnancy.

A 1992 study from the University Department of Growth and
Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen showed a
significant decrease in mean sperm count and in the volume
of sperm between 1938 and 1991. A later study in 2012
from the same group confirmed the result: only 23% of
young men of an average age of 19 have optimal sperm
quality. The American Fertility Society recommends an age
limit for semen donors of 50 years or less for this reason,
and because sperm from elderly fathers is more likely to
cause birth defects and abnormalities.

Whether you are 21 or 34, there are certain things you can
do to help increase your chances of falling pregnant. We
looked at the scientific evidence to see what you can do to
get pregnant more quickly, and the things you should avoid
if you are trying for a baby. Always check with a doctor
before taking supplements and remedies before or during
pregnancy as some may cause problems for a developing

Considering Pregnancy?-Don’t Smoke

You probably know that smoking when you are carrying a
baby is a huge no-no, increasing the risk of miscarriage and
depriving your unborn baby of oxygen and nutrients.

But did you realize that lighting up when you are trying to
get pregnant affects your chances?

Tobacco from cigarettes affects your cervical mucus which
can prevent sperm reaching your egg. Current smokers had
a significantly reduced pregnancy rate compared to non-
smokers in a 1996 study from the University of Iowa College
of Medicine. The study looked at women undergoing assisted
fertility cycles and found that women who smoked during
their treatment cycle had around a 50 percent reduction in
implantation rate and ongoing pregnancy rate.

The good news is that quitting gives you back the advantage
– in the study women who quit smoking before their
treatment cycle had the same pregnancy rate as nonsmokers.

If you don’t smoke but your partner does it could still cause
problems for conception. Toxins from cigarettes slow down
sperm and decrease the quality of the seminal fluid,
according to a 2010 study from the Himalayan Institute of
Medical Sciences, Uttarakhand, India.

Black Cohosh for Increased Pregnancy Success?

Black cohosh is a herb with estrogen-like effects that may be
useful for women who are having problems conceiving. A
2008 study from the Women's Health Centre, Assuit
University, Egypt demonstrated that women who took
120mg of black cohosh along with the medication
clomiphene had significantly higher pregnancy rates than
those who just took clomiphene.

Bee Propolis Helps Pregnancy Rates

According to a 2003 study by the University of Barcelona,
Spain the use of 500mg of the supplement bee propolis
twice a day resulted in a pregnancy rate of 60 percent as
compared to 20 percent in the placebo group. The study
looked at women with fertility problems linked to

Watch What You Drink to Get Pregnant

If you want to get pregnant many experts suggest giving up
alcohol, or at least cutting down significantly. Drinking
heavily is linked to ovulation problems.  

Avoiding caffeine when trying to conceive is also
recommended by some experts, although others disagree
and the evidence is mixed. Caffeine may either increase the
production of estrogen or decrease it, depending on who
you listen to. A 1998 study from Kaiser Permanente Medical
Care Program of Northern California suggested caffeine
intake didn’t actually make a difference.

Women who drank alcohol were 50 percent less likely to
conceive during one cycle than women who didn’t drink,
according to a 1998 study from Johns Hopkins School of
Medicine, while caffeine didn’t independently affect the
probability of pregnancy. In a 2010 study from the
Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Uttarakhand, India
semen quality was markedly reduced in men who drank and
a progressive deterioration in sperm quality was linked to
increasing alcohol intake.

Lie On Your Back After Sex to Get Pregnant?

It seems like an old wives’ tale but apparently lying on your
back after sex helps increase the chances of a sperm
successfully reaching your egg.

For a long time no one had any evidence it actually worked
but a 2009 study from Academic Medical Center in
Amsterdam demonstrated that women who lay flat for 15
minutes following artificial insemination were 50 percent
more likely to get pregnant than women who leapt up
immediately after.

Immediately getting up could cause sperm to leak and take
longer to reach the fallopian tube. The results haven’t been
replicated following actual intercourse but there seems to be
no harm in lying down for a short time after sex – it doesn’t
hurt to try.

A Supplement for Getting Pregnant Sooner

A combination of herbs and vitamins may help you get
pregnant more quickly, according to 2006 research from
Stanford University School of Medicine, California. The
Fertility Blend for Women supplement contains chasteberry,
L-arginine, antioxidants, selenium, and B vitamins, including
folic acid. In the study 26 percent of the women who took
the supplement every day were expecting within three
months, compared with 10 percent of the women taking a
placebo. The women who benefited most were those with
irregular cycles.

Choose High Fat Dairy to Increase the Chances of

Maybe now is not the right time to start a low fat diet. A
2007 study from the Harvard School of Public Health and
Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School,
Boston showed that drinking whole fat milk and eating ice
cream may be better for conceiving than the low fat
alternatives. The study looked at over 18,000 women who
were trying to become pregnant. More research is needed
and this step should be temporary and you should cut back
on calories in other parts of your diet so as not to gain

Men can skip this step – a 2012 study from the Harvard
School of Public Health in Boston said men who ate three
portions of whole fat dairy a day had lower quality sperm
than men who cut back. Researchers compared the diets of
189 young men aged between 19 and 25.

Does Timed Sex Help or Hinder Conception?

Many couples impatient to conceive embark on a structured
period of timed sex – plotting the optimum times to make
love when the woman is ovulating and making sure they
never miss these windows, even if it means racing home
from work or cancelling social dates.

While timed sex can make a difference to the chances of
conception, it can also be stressful for both partners.

One worrying study showed that as the number of timed sex
sessions increased, the incidence of erectile dysfunction and
extra-marital sex (on the part of the male partner) also
increased. The authors of the 2012 study at the Center for
Reproductive Medicine, Zaii Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
cautioned that timed sex poses a lot of stress on male
partners, often evoking erectile dysfunction and sometimes
causing men to have an affair (10.7 percent of the 188 men
engaged in extra marital sex and 42.8 percent experienced
erectile dysfunction while involved in timed sex).

Want to make sex count? Do have sex often – two or three
times a week will ensure you almost certainly coincide with a
fertile period sooner rather than later. There are a range of
baby-making days around ovulation because sperm live for
up to six days in the woman’s body. The chances of a sperm
meeting an egg if you have sex every other day, particularly
in the days running up to and following ovulation, are high.

When Should Your Period Stop? / How to Lose
Weight After Menopause/ Pelvic Cancer-Symptoms and
Treatments /
Osteoporosis- Top 10 Natural Remedies / Best Breakfast to
Fight Arthritis/ Health Dangers of Milk / Lose Weight by
Lowering Thermostat / Lose Belly Fat After the Baby/ Foods
That Shrink Your Waist/ Drinking Cold Water Burns Calories
Six Pack Abs-A Guided Tour /Top 10 Foods That Fight
Anemia / How Much Is Too Much Salt? /Sugar-The Disease
Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your Health? / Ideal
Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for Arthritis
Healing Foods Links /  Foods That Shrink Your Waist /
Foods That Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-The Other Cholesterol/
Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

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Bee propolis boosts the fertility of
women, according to a new study.