It might seem obvious, but you’re not actually going to get pregnant without having intercourse. And if you want to have the best chance, you should do it two or three times a week.
Because you’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex around the time you ovulate, you might want to work out what time of the month this happens, so you can make sure you have sex then. See ‘How can I work out when I’m going to ovulate?’ in the period FAQs.
This goes for both men and women! Smoking makes men produce fewer healthy sperm. And in women it affects the hormones that make eggs mature properly. If you do get pregnant, it’s really important to stop smoking anyway, as it’s very bad for the unborn baby.
This also goes for both men and women! Alcohol affects the hormones in your body. It makes men produce less testosterone, which means fewer sperm. And it makes women produce more oestrogen, which causes menstrual problems and reduces fertility.
For men it’s been found that if you have more than a couple of small drinks a day it can affect your sperm. The best thing of course is not to drink at all. For women, the same thing goes as for smoking – if you do get pregnant alcohol is really bad for the unborn baby. So if you are planning to get pregnant you should at least cut down to one small drink a day – or even better, just stick to soft drinks.
Pretty much all drugs, from cannabis to ecstasy and cocaine, have been shown to reduce fertility. If you smoke cannabis, for example, like alcohol it can reduce sperm production in men, and it can affect ovulation in women.
And like smoking and drinking, if you do get pregnant, drugs all have very bad effects on the unborn baby – cocaine is particularly nasty. So the message is simple: if you’re planning to get pregnant, stop taking drugs.
Obviously this is a tip for men only! Testicles hang outside the body so they don’t get too warm – they need to be a bit below body temperature to make sperm. (Your scrotum keeps your testicles at the right temperature by hanging down low when you’re hot and squeezing up tight when you’re cold.) So don’t wear tight underpants or trousers that make your testicles too hot. And avoid having hot baths!
This is particularly important for women. To get pregnant and have a baby, your body needs a full range of vitamins and minerals. What's more, for men too there’s also evidence that if you eat healthily you have more healthy sperm.
As a woman if you’re underweight or overweight it can reduce your fertility.
Read more in fertility and weight.
There’s evidence to show that if you’re stressed out you’re less likely to get pregnant. But relaxing can be easier said than done as the months go by and you start worrying you might not be able to get pregnant. And having sex can start to feel like a chore. So make sure you spend quality time with your partner, not just baby-making time.