These tricks won't just bring more pleasure to your baby-making routine. They may also up your chances of conceiving. What's not to love about that?
- Go on -- scream for ice cream. Skim milk may help you stay trim but it won't necessarily help you make a baby any faster. One large study found that the consumption of low-fat dairy led to reduced fertility compared with the consumption of full-fat versions. So go ahead and splurge on that full-fat scoop of salted caramel every once in a while. Your reproductive system will thank you.
- Get wet and wild. When baby making becomes more of a chore than an act of lust, vaginal dryness can be an issue. Trouble is, many lubricants can potentially affect the survival of sperm during intercourse. Enter fertility-friendly lubes like Pre-Seed. "These hydroxyethylcellulose-based formulas are generally safe to use while conceiving," says Jani Jensen, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The way that the lube is tested in a lab setting (mixed with sperm in an incubator) is very different from how people use lubricants, so your mileage may vary.
- Sip a bit of vino. Oenophiles, rejoice! "Some studies suggest that people who drink a small amount of wine, roughly one glass a day, had a shortened time to conception," Dr. Jensen says. Researchers are not yet sure if a beer or a cocktail has the same effects, but you can safely enjoy a tipple of either one now and then. Just bear in mind that consuming more than two glasses of any type of alcohol per day has been linked to a delay in conception.
- Give yourself a rubdown. Jill Blakeway, a licensed acupuncturist in New York City and co-author of Making Babies, is a huge advocate of self-massage while trying to conceive. "It can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, possibly improving your fertility," she says. Try this method to stimulate your reproductive organs in the four days before ovulation until the day you ovulate: Place your hands on your pubic bone, apply gentle pressure, and make small circles on your lower abdomen, going down and outward for 10 seconds. Rest for a moment, then repeat for up to two minutes.
- Make time to connect with your man outside of baby-making sex. "Having intercourse with your partner once per month that is totally unrelated to getting pregnant is great for your relationship," Dr. Jensen says. The more spontaneous it is, the better. Book an impromptu date night for one evening you planned to spend on the couch in sweats. Or pull your guy into the bedroom during the day one weekend for a sex session if you typically try at night. You'll both feel less pressure to perform and actually enjoy each other's company.
- Soak up some rays. Vitamin D is essential to good reproductive function in both women and men. But getting it solely from supplements is so... blah. A recent review of studies on vitamin D found that exposure to the sun is linked to healthy levels of testosterone in both sexes, plus good sperm quality in guys. As little as one hour per day can be beneficial -- just make sure you lather up with SPF before you head out!
- Have a last-hurrah diet. It's hard to imagine now, but there may come a day soon when a long list of foods becomes verboten, thanks to Baby. Get your fill of raw treats like fertility-boosting oysters, which are high in zinc, a mineral that helps boost sperm quality. And don't forget sushi and sashimi -- salmon in particular is rich in fertility-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.
- Treat yourself. When you don't achieve a fertility goal on a certain timeline, your instinct might be to punish yourself for "failing." "Resist that urge by creating win-win situations," says Beth Jaeger-Skigen, a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco who specializes in infertility. Example: One of her patients signed up to run a half-marathon in Hawaii after a round of IVF, guaranteeing a pleasant experience either way. "If you want to be pregnant, say, by the summer, book that trip to Italy and buy cancellation insurance," Jaeger-Skigen says. "That way you have something to look forward to, no matter the reproductive outcome."
- Laugh your butt off. In one study in Israel, IVF patients who were exposed to medical clowns (stay with me here) right after embryo implantation had a better chance of getting pregnant than those who weren't. (The clowns were people trained to perform jokes and magic tricks shortly after medical procedures. So, yeah, it's a real thing.) We're not saying you need to seek out your local Patch Adams, stat. But lightening the mood could theoretically help you conceive. Try watching your favorite funny movies before getting busy. Or pop a hilarious song from middle school ("Baby Got Back," anyone?) in your sexy time playlist to crack your partner up in bed. After all, you know what they say about laughter being the best medicine...
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