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How to improve your chances of getting pregnant

Most heterosexual couples will get pregnant within 1 year if they are having regular sex and not using contraception.

But there are a few things you and your partner can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant.

Regular sex will help you conceive

Frequent sex is the best way to get pregnant. This means having sex every 2 to 3 days.

The most likely time to get pregnant

You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex around the time you ovulate (produce eggs).

If your cycle is 28 days long, ovulation usually happens around 14 days before your next period.

It can be difficult to know exactly when ovulation occurs, so the best advice is to have frequent sex.

Sex when trying to get pregnant

Get a health check

You are more likely to get pregnant if you are both in good health.

If you or your partner are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to visit your GP for a health check. This is important if you have any health problems or are taking any medication.

Vaccines you need before you get pregnant

Take folic acid

Take folic acid if you are trying to get pregnant - ideally for 3 months before you get pregnant and during the first trimester.

The usual dose if you're trying to get pregnant is 400 micrograms, taken once a day.

Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects. These include spina bifida.

Folic acid

Maintain a healthy weight

Carrying excess weight or having underweight can mean you are less likely to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant. This is because your weight may stop ovulation.

Men who have a healthy weight produce better quality sperm.

If you carry excess weight, losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Aim to lose this weight gradually, over 3 to 6 months.

Ways to manage your weight include:

  • lifestyle changes, including eating well, being active and sleeping well
  • managing other health conditions you may have
  • looking after your mental health

If you have obesity, your GP may also prescribe medicines or recommend weight loss surgery to treat obesity.

Healthy weight when trying to get pregnant


Your body mass index (BMI) may give you an estimate of whether your weight may affect your ability to get pregnant.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

How to get your height in metres squared

Multiply your height in metres by itself. For example, if you are 1.75 meters tall, then you would multiply 1.75 by 1.75.

If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are at risk of having underweight. If your BMI is 30 or above, you are at risk of having obesity.

Obesity and underweight can mean you are less likely to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant.

Work out your BMI using the safefood BMI healthy weight calculator

Get help to quit smoking

Smoking can lower your chances of becoming pregnant. Women who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems and take longer to conceive. Smoking can also damage a man’s sperm.

How to get help to quit smoking

Eat well

Eating well helps you manage your weight and improve your health.

Eating well means that you:

  • eat regularly and spread out your meals and snacks
  • eat nutritious foods
  • understand your appetite

Your GP may refer you to a dietitian if they think it will benefit you. They can support you to eat better.

How to eat well

Be physically active, but not too much

Regular moderate activity is good for your body and your mind.

Avoid very intense exercise as this may lower your fertility. For example, athletes training for marathons may notice that their periods stop.

How to fit physical activity into your day

Keep your stress levels low

Stress can affect your sex drive and this can mean you end up having sex less often. It can also affect sperm production. When trying to get pregnant, relaxing and avoiding stress can help.

Stress - tips and self-help stress

Review any drugs you take, legal or illegal

Illegal drugs can reduce your fertility and are dangerous during pregnancy.

Some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy. Some of these may also reduce your fertility.

Before trying to become pregnant, talk with your GP or pharmacist about any medicines or supplements you are taking.

Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.

If you have chlamydia or gonorrhoea, talk to your GP. They can prescribe antibiotics to treat them.

Practice safe sex if you are not trying for a baby. Use a condom each time you have sex.

Sexually transmitted infections -

Page last reviewed: 8 September 2022
Next review due: 10 November 2025