Trying to conceive can be an emotional process that often leaves couples feeling out of control. But there are some things you can do to improve your chances—and some things not to do.
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Don’t smoke. Obviously. Smoking makes it harder for a woman to conceive, and it also increases her chances of having a miscarriage. Of course, pregnant women are strongly advised to stop smoking too, since it can also damage the placenta and contribute to birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Don’t drink. Some studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and miscarriage in the early weeks of a pregnancy.
Cut back on the caffeine. You don’t have to completely cut it out, but if you consume a lot of caffeine, you might want to cut back. Two cups of coffee or less per day is a good rule of thumb.
Ease off the ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is usually discouraged in the early weeks of pregnancy, and some doctors suggest that you avoid it when actively trying to conceive because of its anti-inflammatory properties. “I definitely think you should avoid ibuprofen around the time of ovulation,” says Dr. Sejal Dharia Patel, a reproductive endocrinologist with the Orlando Center for Reproductive Medicine in Orlando, Florida. Other medications could be problematic, too, but you and your health care provider should discuss the risk-benefit ratio before you discontinue any medication you take on a regular basis, such as an antidepressant.
Cut out the Crossfit. Dr. Alice Domar, director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF, notes that studies seem to vary on exercise. She generally recommends sticking with activities like swimming, walking and yoga, but avoiding really intensive exercise when trying to conceive. “Tone it down,” she says.
Dr. Maher Abdallah, medical director of American Reproductive Centers in Irvine and Palm Springs, also suggests avoiding intensive exercise if it’s affecting your body fat levels and your menstrual function. “However, if you’re really fit, and this is your natural tolerance for exercise, then I don’t think it makes that much of a difference,” he says.