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A Guide to Getting Pregnant: The Very First Steps

Everything to know about the basics of conceiving, from ovulation to sperm health.

A Guide to Getting Pregnant: The Very First Steps

The journey to parenthood is certainly not linear—especially with its moving variables and waning emotions. Carrying life for 40 weeks, three trimesters, or a little more than 9 months is no easy feat, but one of the toughest hills to climb is the very first goalpost: conception.

From tracking your cycle to boosting your fertility health, here’s a little guidance on how to embark on your pregnancy journey as healthily and effectively as possible.

Let It Be Fun

Before we get into the nitty gritty of fertility, there’s an important point to make: stress can be a major roadblock. Try to let yourself have fun and enjoy this journey to parenthood, rather than stress and claw through. That’s certainly easier said than done, especially with the anticipation of pregnancy weighing on you, but there are still ways to infuse more ease into the journey, including yoga, eating delicious, hormone-supporting foods, and of course, sex

While the research around it is still building, there are certain sex positions believed to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Supporting the sperm-to-egg journey, with consistency and intentionality, these positions can’t hurt your baby-making odds:

  • Missionary
  • Doggy style
  • Reverse cowgirl
  • Side-by-side scissors
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Whichever position gives you the easiest orgasm

And while you’re at it, make sure to utilize lube that won’t hinder your chances. Lube marked as "fertility-friendly" or "sperm-friendly," is created without the use of certain ingredients that can damage sperm and negatively impact your ability to conceive.


Understand Fertility Challenges—And How Common They Are

If you’ve struggled with fertility challenges, you are absolutely not alone. According to a recent report published by WHO, around 17.5% of the adult population experience infertility. A disease of the male or female reproductive system, infertility is defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. Without the proper resources or education on how to tend to your reproductive health, it’s difficult to combat. 

There are many reasons why falling pregnant may be complicated for an individual, ranging from damaged fallopian tubes to PCOS-induced hormonal imbalances, to low sperm health. 

Common causes of female infertility include:

  • Ovulation disorders
  • Conditions of the uterus
  • Endometriosis
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Pelvic adhesions
  • Damage related to cancer and its treatment

Common causes of male infertility include:

  • Conditions that can affect how much sperm is made or sperm quality
  • Problems with sperm reaching the female reproductive tract
  • Environmental factors like pesticides or other chemicals
  • Damage related to cancer and its treatment


Being over the age of 35, regular tobacco, marijuana, and/or alcohol consumption, being over or underweight, and not getting enough exercise are all examples of lifestyle habits that can impact egg health—and thus, fertility. Because of this, many turn to natural methods to boost their fertility, from raspberry leaf tea to consistent sessions of acupuncture. 

More methods to boost egg health & fertility include:

  • Eating more antioxidant-rich foods and fiber
  • Eating a full breakfast
  • Avoiding trans fats
  • Cutting down on refined carbs
  • Taking multivitamins and supplements
  • Staying active
  • Reducing stress
  • Cutting out caffeine
  • Taking iron

Luckily, if all else falls, we are part of the generation that has both built and benefitted from technological innovation, especially in the realm of pregnancy. Options like surrogacy and IVF have helped many of those struggling with conception to achieve motherhood.


What Are The First Steps When Trying To Get Pregnant?

The first step on your journey of conception is tracking your ovulation. Most of us can easily recognize that week in our menstrual cycle when we’re feeling hot and bothered, emotionally heightened, and downright sexier than usual. For those trying to conceive, you’ve got a short ovulation window every menstrual cycle to work within.

So when do you ovulate? In an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation typically occurs about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period for 12 to 24 hours. That said, each person's cycle length may be different, and the time between ovulation and the start of the next menstrual period can vary. 

There are a ton of apps that can help you track your ovulation, including FLO and Clue. However, if you’re dealing with an irregular menstrual cycle, it can be difficult for these apps to predict your window. Investing in an at-home ovulation test kit can help clarify any reasonable doubt, measuring the LH levels that correspond with your fertility.

Beyond that, there are monthly signs your body is ready for pregnancy— you just have to pay close enough attention to them. These include: 

  • Change in your cervical mucus
  • Increased sex drive
  • Heightened sense of smell
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mid-cycle spotting
  • Shifted Cervical Position

Boosting Sperm Health

The dialogue around fertility typically revolves around eggs and ovaries, but sperm health is just as crucial when it comes to the conception journey. The quality of sperm is first measured by quantity: the semen discharged in a single ejaculation should contain at least 15 million sperm per milliliter.

In addition, the sperm must measure well in movement, able to reach and fertilize the egg as seamlessly and efficiently as possible. Lastly, the structure of the sperm plays an important role, too. Typical sperm have oval heads and long tails, which work together to propel them. 

Medical conditions like undescended testicles, genetic defects, testicular disease, sperm transport disorders, and diabetes can crucially affect the health of your sperm and the ability to impregnate someone. Infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, mumps or HIV can also impact the quality of sperm. 

Similarly, the problem can lie within premature ejaculation, certain genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, physical problems such as a blockage in the testicle, or damage or an injury to the reproductive organs.

To help boost the quality of sperm and heighten your chances of conceiving, try to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Manage stress
  • Remain active
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Avoid lubricants during sex

Although the benefits have not been fully proven, it’s also been said that wearing loose-fitting underwear, reducing sitting, avoiding saunas and hot tubs, and limiting scrotum exposure to warm objects, such as a laptop, might enhance sperm quality as well.


Don’t Get Discouraged

While we’ve all been seduced by a one-dimensional image of what conception and pregnancy should look like, there’s truly no correct nor superior way. It may be tempting to ask, “how do I get pregnant fast and easy,” but that isn’t always the reality for everyone. Whichever way you come into the miracle of life is perfect and deeply individual, so let your journey be exactly what it chooses to be without shame or comparison.

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