Some women get pregnant effortlessly; others spend months or even years trying to conceive. Why? Experts concede it's still largely a mystery. "We have hintsfactors like when your mom went through menopause and how regular your cycles arebut they don't tell us everything," says Sarah Berga, MD, chair of ob-gyn and women's health at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. "So much of it depends on the individual."
That said, there are ways you and your partner could increase your chances of getting pregnant. Try these lifestyle tweaks.
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Kick your soda addiction
Women who drink two or more servings of any type of soda a day have about a 16% lower fertility rate than women who don't drink any, according to a 2012 study co-authored by Lauren Wise, ScD.
Research suggests that women undergoing IVF treatments see the best results when they regularly clock seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Stop tossing and turning and sleep soundly with these seven tips for the best sleep ever.
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Be a better brusher
Gum disease can add an extra two months to the amount of time it takes to become pregnant, 2011 Australian research shows. Make sure you get your teeth checked before trying to conceive. More:How to Keep Your Smile Healthy
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Exercise, but not too much
Thin women who work out vigorously five hours a week or more are 42% less likely to get pregnant than those who don't exercise as strenuously, Wise's research suggests. Find the perfect workout for you with the Fitness Finder.
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Don't let him turn into a couch potato
Guys who watch more than 20 hours of TV weekly have a 44% lower sperm count than those who watch almost none, a 2013 Harvard study showed.
A recent Columbia University study suggests that 6% of women with unexplained infertility have celiac disease. "They produce antibodies that may interfere with the development of the placenta," says study author Peter Green, MD. After subjects went on a gluten-free diet, they were able to conceive within a year. Try these easy gluten-free recipes.
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Encourage him to lose weight
Men who are overweight or obese are more likely to have low total sperm counts and concentration, according to a study from 2013. More:16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast
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...And quit smoking
Lighting up leads to lower sperm quality, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which is why it recommends quitting smoking if trying to conceive. If that's not enough of an incentive to give up cigarettes, here are 97 other reasons to quit smoking now.
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...And move his phone
Men who store phones on their belts or in their pants pockets have lower sperm counts, according to a review published by the Environmental Working Group, possibly due to the electromagnetic waves they emit.
Are you trying to get pregnant? Would you be willing to help researchers examine whether lifestyle factors like diet, exercise and medication affect fertility? Go to sites.bu.edu/presto to find out more about the Boston University Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO) to see how you can help.