Fertility Booster No. 4: Acupuncture
Studies linking acupuncture to conception have by and large been conducted on women undergoing fertility treatments. Still, many experts are quick to point out that this ancient Chinese medical art may also work to help encourage fertility overall -- even for those couples trying to conceive naturally.
"I sometimes recommend acupuncture, in conjunction with stress reduction activities such as yoga, to help encourage pregnancy," Pollack says.
"I wouldn't advise a couple to rely only on acupuncture, or to try it without first getting a fertility workup, but if everything checks out OK, acupuncture can be helpful," she says.
Fertility Booster No. 5: Ovulation
While being intimate during the "right time of the month" won't do anything to increase your fertility, it can increase your chances of getting pregnant -- simply by ensuring you and your partner connect during the time conception is possible.
Timing is crucial, says Pollack, because "an egg only lives for 24 to 36 hours." But sperm can live in the lower portion of a woman's reproductive tract a lot longer -- often up to five days. So to increase your chances of conceiving you should be intimate with your partner beginning three to four days prior to ovulation, and continuing up to 24 hours after ovulation.
But how do you know when you're about to ovulate? Experts say there are several methods you can use to approximate.
- Chart your basal body temperature (BBT): Your BBT, which is the lowest temperature your body reaches during the day, is affected by the hormones that influence ovulation. Just prior to egg release, your BBT drops about a half degree and then rises again after you ovulate. So by carefully monitoring and keeping track of your daily temperature for one or two months, Pollack says you will notice a pattern take shape. If you have intercourse during the days when your temperature drops, then there is a good chance you will be within your fertility window.
- Chart your cervical mucus: Corresponding to changes in body temperature are changes in cervical mucus. Just prior to ovulation, the mucus will seem more copious, thinner, and clearer than on other days. You might even be able to pull it apart so that it looks somewhat like rubber cement -- a phenomenon known as "spinbarket." By checking your cervical mucus daily and coordinating its consistency with your BBT, you can further nail down your most fertile time.
- Use an ovulation predictor kit (OPK): These over-the-counter kits, costing from $20 to $75 a month, check for the hormonal changes found in urine prior to ovulation. Some use a color-sensitive dipstick while newer OPKs have digital readouts that may be easier to interpret. OPKs can alert you to ovulation up to two days in advance. Once the OPK is positive, Pollack says, you would "have intercourse that day and every day for three days to help increase your chances of conception." Another device that may predict fertility is the "ferning" microscope, which can be used to detect changes in saliva that precede ovulation. However, experts say this approach may not be as reliable as an OPK.
- Buy a fertility monitor: At $200 to $400, they are not cheap. But a fertility monitor can indicate as many as six or seven fertile days each cycle. That can give you a clearer sense of your fertility window and potentially increase your odds of conceiving. Try a wristwatch fertility predictor, which detects chemical changes on the skin that indicate ovulation. These fertility watches help women identify the four days prior to ovulation.