Some types of infertility aren't preventable. But several strategies may increase your chances of pregnancy.

Couples

For couples, having regular intercourse several times around the time of ovulation offers the highest pregnancy rate. Intercourse occurring several days before and until a day after ovulation improves the probability of pregnancy. This is usually at the middle of the cycle halfway between menstrual periods for most women with menstrual cycles 28 days apart. Semen quality is optimized by waiting two to three days between ejaculations.

Men

For men, although most types of infertility aren't preventable, these strategies may help:

  • Avoid drug and tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, which may contribute to male infertility.
  • Avoid high temperatures as this can affect sperm production and motility. Although this effect is usually temporary, avoid hot tubs and steam baths.
  • Avoid exposure to industrial or environmental toxins, which can impact sperm production.
  • Limit medications that may impact fertility, both prescription and nonprescription drugs. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take regularly, but don't stop taking prescription medications without medical advice.

Women

For women, a number of strategies may increase the chances of becoming pregnant:

  • Exercise moderately. Regular exercise is important, but if you're exercising so intensely that your periods are infrequent or absent, your fertility may be impaired.
  • Avoid weight extremes. Being overweight or underweight can affect your hormone production and cause infertility.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco has multiple negative effects on fertility, not to mention your general health and the health of a fetus. If you smoke and are considering pregnancy, quit now.
  • Avoid alcohol and street drugs. These substances may impair your ability to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine.
  • Limit medications that may impact fertility. The use of some prescription and nonprescription drugs can decrease your chance of getting pregnant or keeping a pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take regularly, but don't stop taking prescription medications without medical advice.
  • Limit caffeine. Women trying to get pregnant may want to limit caffeine intake. Ask your doctor for guidance on safe use of caffeine.
Jul. 19, 2013