How to get pregnant
Published 3rd February 2020
You would think there was a fairly straight forward answer to the question, “How do I get pregnant?” But having worked as an acupuncturist, specialising in fertility for a number of years, I can assure you, it can be a complicated process.
Ask anyone who has been trying to conceive for more than a few months. How much did you actually know about getting pregnant before you started trying? Only to find, just a few months down the line, they will have become complete experts on the subject.
However, it is really important to get the basics right first. I often spend quite a bit of time with patients going through this, so I thought I would share it with you too.
It starts with an egg
To get pregnant, the first place to to start is to make sure that you are ovulating each month. Do not make the mistake of downloading an app, plotting in the first day of your period and then relying on the app to tell you when you are ovulating. The app doesn’t have a clue what is happening inside your body. It can only do a simple calculation and estimate the ovulation.
There are many companies out there selling ovulation kits, sticks and things you stick up your bits. These can be expensive and not always accurate (unless you have a perfect cycle, in which case you don’t need them).
I would recommend tracking your temperature. Do this first thing in the morning, with a digital thermometer. I like temperature charting as it gives a picture over a month into what is happening with your progesterone level. A jump in temperature of +0.5 degrees C, indicates ovulation. If you plot your temperature onto a chart ( the Fertility Friend FF app has a brilliant one which is free), then you can see ovulation, but you can also make sure that your temperature continues at a high reading for at least 12-14 days. Any issues with this can indicate hormonal imbalance which can then be addressed.
Create great sperm
Not all “good” sperm is “great”. What I mean by this, is that when a sperm sample is analysed, it is graded for various things, the shape of it (morphology) does it travel in the right direction (motility), is there enough in the sample (millions of sperm per ml) etc. All of these things have a measurement which looks at “is this sperm acceptable to use for IVF”. This is not the same thing as, “is this sperm amazing”. So, in my opinion, it is usually always possible to improve the quality of the sperm and therefore your chances of conceiving.
The good news is that most of the sperm’s measurements can be improved quite easily and quickly by improving on diet and lifestyle. These are things that you probably already know:
- Cut out the crap… alcohol, caffeine, smoking, fast foods, sugar, drugs (including steroids)
- Put more healthy foods in
- Exercise regularly but not excessively
- Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours)
- Keep the testicles cool. So no tight underwear, hot baths or cycling.
It is quite common for a sperm analysis to show a considerable improvement in just 3 months when these changes have been embraced.
Do it right
There’s no need to download the karma sutra or invent some artistic moves, just have sex at the right time. But, not all the time!
When you can predict your ovulation you can then calculate a “fertile window”. Usually the 5 days before ovulation, and 5 days after. So you have an 11 day “window of opportunity”! Then I’d suggest having sex every other day during this time. There is no advantage of doing it any more frequently than this. In fact, it could be detrimental to the sperm quality.
Try to have fun and enjoy it, which I know can be a little tricky if you have been trying to conceive for many months. It won’t increase your chances of conceiving, but it will make the journey more fun.
Immediately after sex, pop a pillow under your bottom and stay there for about 20 mins. (This advice is for the woman, but men can join in too if they want!). There is no advantage of doing handstands.
There are many books and articles which detail the various foods and supplements which you can take to improve your fertility. I would recommend visiting a nutritional specialist or naturopath who can advise on what is right for you specifically. This is not a one size fits all approach. Everyone is different and it’s worth investing in some professional advice.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we seek to balance the Yin and Yang of the organs. You can use acupuncture to do this, herbal medicine and every day foods. But before you set out to nourish your kidney yang, it’s important to establish if this is even needed. I see many women who are yang deficient and I recommend warming foods. But every so often, I will see a women who is trying to conceive who is very yang excess, so my recommendations to her are very different.
No two people are ever the same, so a couple trying to conceive are extremely unique. The foods and supplements which are right for them should be considered carefully and with advice.
Sometimes babies are conceived out of joy and happiness. Most of the women I see in my clinic are frustrated with their fertility, experiencing a huge range of emotions every month. From devastation, sadness, jealousy, anger, frustration to hope, optimism, enthusiasm, elation and back round again. It is very difficult to remain positive all the time and it’s important not to push down your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they are.
Try and plan nice things to do every day. Whether it is standing outside in the garden breathing the air for 5 minutes, or looking at cute kittens on the internet. It’s great to go to a spa day once in a while, but I’d like you to plan something lovely at least a few times a day, even if these are small things.
I’d like to add that having negative thoughts, in my opinion, does not affect your fertility. There is a lot of talk about having a positive mental attitude and how that can translate into positive things happening. I’m sure that can work. But, most of the women I treat are absolutely convinced they will never get pregnant. Yet, they do. All the time. So, what I actually see in my clinic, is that a negative mindset does not adversely affect your chances.
I hope this helps a little bit. If you’d like to book an appointment with me to discuss your fertility and how Acupuncture can help, please give me a call.