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7 Ways couples can increase their chances of getting pregnant

Director of the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women and Sex Differences in Medicine.

These are the lifestyle changes men and women should make when trying to to conceive

As a fertility researcher and specialist in reproductive health, I frequently get this question: "what can I do to increase my odds of conceiving?" It's a tricky question to answer because every couple is a little bit different.

But there is heartening news: science has already given us a ton of information about how your body primes itself for conception, and we can use those clues to tip the odds in your favor. To get pregnant faster, there are some habits I recommend bidding a temporary (or even permanent) farewell to.

1. Stop smoking

With this one single change, men can increase their sperm count and motility, while women can reduce their chance of miscarriage. Moreover, studies have shown that women who smoke take longer to conceive and are more likely to experience infertility. Your best bet? Give it up altogether before you begin your fertility journey.

2. Cut out that extra cup of coffee

A regular cup of coffee contains lots of caffeine, and some studies suggest that high caffeine intake can be associated with miscarriage and infertility. So, limiting caffeine intake is a good idea. Everything in moderation!

3. Keep cocktails (and wine, and beer… ) in check

While everyone knows to watch the hard stuff while pregnant, it may not be a bad idea to wean yourself off during the conception process too. Studies show that both men and women can benefit from limiting alcohol consumption during this time.

4. Hold off on the hot tubs

There is a reason that the testes are outside the body: they need to be cooler to produce sperm. Frequent trips to the hot tub or sauna can lower the sperm count. It takes two to three months for sperm to develop, so stop heat exposure several months before trying to conceive.

And women, remember: hot tubs and saunas should be avoided in pregnancy!

5. Avoid BPA

Bisphenol A, or BPA — the chemical used to make certain plastics, like water bottles and various containers — is now being linked to lower fertility in men. Switch over to metal water bottles and avoid leaving plastic containers with food or water in a hot car (it's thought to significantly increase the amount of BPA passed to the consumable substance). Women trying to conceive should try to limit their exposure too.

6. Review medications with your doctor

Some women express concern over giving up their medicine while trying to get pregnant: anti-depressants, for example. It's probably possible to keep going with your medical treatment while you and your partner make a baby, but talk to your doctor to find out if any adjustments need to be made. And a note here: over-the-counter nutritional supplements such as FertilityBlend (formulas for both men and women) may be beneficial in helping couples conceive. In a 2006 study, FertilityBlend for Women and FertilityBlend for Men were found to have a positive impact on conception with no significant side effects. Talk to your doctor about making this part of your fertility health plan.

7. Check out your surroundings

Various environmental factors have been linked with fertility levels. If you're having trouble conceiving, where you live might play a role: visit the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for more information if you suspect toxins in your community.

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