Let me preface this by saying there is no one-size-fits-all approach to trying to conceive (TTC). Some of the strategies listed below may increase the chances of conception, it's important to recognize that what works for one person may not be the best choice for another. The key is to be aware of the available options so you can make an informed choice about which route you'd like to pursue.
Four Main Strategies for Trying to Conceive (TTC):
Level 1: Pull The Goalie
This is a fun way of saying, simply stop preventing pregnancy. Get off birth control, stop using condoms, etc. If what we were told in our high school health class was accurate, we'd expect to get pregnant as soon as we have unprotected sex. Unfortunately, not always the case.
Benefits: Low stress, low cost.
Risks: Might unknowingly miss the fertile window and/or experience anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation, making pregnancy impossible).
Level 2: Use Your Period Tracking App's Ovulation Prediction Feature
The first thing that usually comes to mind when we think about trying to get pregnant is trying to identify when we're ovulating. Most of us were already using some form of period tracking app in order to get an idea of when our periods are due, and most of those apps come with a handy dandy feature of guesstimating when ovulation is occurring.
Benefits: For women with very regular cycles, this might be enough to hit the fertile window.
Risks: Can't guarantee hitting the fertile window every month, might unknowingly experience anovulatory cycles, sometimes requires payment for the ovulation prediction feature.
Check Out Our Free Guide:
The Ultimate Guide to Getting Pregnant Naturally and Quickly
Level 3: Use Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)
Some of us like to take it a step further and purchase ovulation predictor kit strips to determine when we're ovulating. Though they sound promising, they have a couple major flaws that you deserve to be aware of. Most notably, they can't confirm ovulation has occurred, leading to what we call anovulatory cycles.
Anovulation is responsible for 1/3 of visits to fertility clinics, PCOS accounts for 90% of those, and 10% of women have PCOS whether they know it or not.
To make matters worse, women with PCOS typically have higher levels of LH (the hormone detected by OPKs to predict when ovulation will occur) which means they're even more likely to get false positives.
Benefits: Simple to understand, likely to hit fertile window.
Risks: May miss at least part of the fertile window, can't guarantee that a positive OPK test means ovulation actually occurred, slightly higher cost.
Level 4: Use Fertility Awareness Methods
There's a reason users of fertility awareness methods boast a 68% conception rate after 6 months of trying to conceive vs. the typical 50% conception rate. There simply isn't a replacement for understanding your body's fertility biomarkers to time conception.
It takes some upfront investment in terms of time and money if you want to invest in a FAM educator (which we recommend), but once you know, you can't unknow. You'll have the skills you need to maximize your chances of conception for this pregnancy, any future pregnancy, and if you want to take your skills one step further, you can use even use the concepts learned to ditch hormonal birth control forever and still successfully prevent pregnancy at an effective rate of 99.6%.
Benefits: Guaranteed to hit the fertile window and can confirm with certainty that ovulation took place, know exactly when to expect a positive pregnancy test, low cost.
Risks: Takes 1-3 cycles to understand the concepts (but the knowledge lasts a lifetime).
Ready to level up? We've got you covered.
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to trying to conceive. Some women are willing to forego increased chances of conception to maintain a hands-off experience. Others find comfort and reassurance in tracking fertility biomarkers. The point is for every woman to know the options available to her and choose the best option for her.