Getting pregnant: Advice for men and women trying for a baby

from Mag. Margit Weichselbraun
on 17.08.2021
Falling pregnant: tips for women and men on how to achieve baby bliss Falling pregnant: tips for women and men on how to achieve baby bliss

Home, job, partner - once the key cornerstones of life have been achieved, many people feel it is the perfect time to complete their happiness with a child. However, not everything in life always runs according to plan. The desire to have children is often strong, but so is the sense of impatience. Unfortunately, we cannot come up with the one true recipe for success, but we can offer advice on the various steps that can increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Fertility & women:

Over a long period of time, a woman’s life is shaped by her menstrual cycle. From puberty through to menopause, the monthly menstrual cycle takes place around 400 to 500 times. A menstrual cycle is as individual as the woman herself. In order for an egg to mature, be fertilised and be implanted, the female sex hormones must be able to do what they want undisturbed. External as well as internal stimuli influence the sensitive dance of hormones and thus also fertility.

The one true recipe for successful conception has yet to be created, but knowing your cycle in detail gives you a clear advantage. Nowadays, special apps, ovulation tests or fertility computers are helpful for women who want to have children, because good timing – ideally about two to three days around ovulation (which varies from woman to woman) – significantly increases the chance of becoming pregnant.

Fertile days: When can you get pregnant?

The time during which a woman can get pregnant starts about four to five days before ovulation and ends one to two days after ovulation. The most fertile phase is between 72 hours before ovulation and 12 hours after ovulation.

Fig. Example of the female cycle

Nutrients support the internal “nest-building” phase

A good supply of essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements is ideal preparation for having a baby. This “internal nest building” forms the foundation and offers the best conditions for ensuring that the new life has everything it needs. Many people know that the mother's nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy – by up to 100%. However, the nutrient stores (especially those of folic acid) should be well filled even before conception. Finally, the nutrition and lifestyle of the mother significantly influence the growth and development of the unborn child as well as the course of the pregnancy.

Support female fertility 

Optimum nutrition with a variety of vitamins and minerals – through a balanced diet with nutrient-rich foods and, if necessary, nutritional supplements – could potentially help promote fertility. Important nutrients in this context include the following:

  • Zinc: This contributes to normal fertility and reproduction. Zinc contributes to normal DNA synthesis
  • Vitamin D: Serves a function in cell division
  • Vitamin B6: Helps regulate hormonal activity
  • Vitamin B12: Plays a part in cell division. As this vitamin is found mainly in animal products, vegetarian or vegan women should be especially careful to ingest sufficient vitamin B12 and consider supplementing it if necessary.
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium: Can help protect the cells (ova) from oxidative stress.
  • Iodine: Contributes to normal thyroid function – a normally functioning thyroid is also important for the female cycle.
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If you are pregnant, your body performs at its best to allow the new life to grow. Natural nutritional supplements are recommended so that mother and child are well cared for from the very beginning of the pregnancy. What do I need to pay attention to and from when should I supplement?

Vitamins & nutrition during pregnancy

Fertility & men: Fit sperm reach their destination

20 centimetres and yet a race like no other. This is the distance that sperm have to bridge to reach the object of their desire – the egg. Here, the probability of a sperm cell emerging as the victor of the competition and bearing witness to new life is negligible – namely less than 1:500,000,000. That’s why, for couples hoping to create a baby, the following applies: the more sperm that enter the race and the healthier they are, the more likely it is that the happiness of a family will be realised.

Sperm quality also decides whether the wish to have children is fulfilled.

What influences sperm quality?

In addition to medical causes, lifestyle plays a decisive role in sperm quality: an unhealthy diet, environmental and recreational toxins, weight issues, lack of exercise and excessive testicular temperature (for example, due to very hot baths and sunbathing, heated seats and saunas) are all issues for male fertility. Hormonal imbalances, such as low testosterone levels or thyroid function disorders, are among the numerous factors that influence sperm quality, which can vary from man to man.

For all hopeful couples, the question remains what can be done to increase their “marksmanship”.

Can sperm quality be helped?

A healthy lifestyle can have a positive effect on sperm quality. This includes regular physical activity, good stress management, sufficient sleep and abstinence from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. A balanced diet rich in vital substances is a step in the right direction  (more on this below). In order to produce healthy sperm, the body needs certain micronutrients in sufficient quantities:

In addition to vitamin B6, which supports the regulation of hormone activity, and selenium, which is involved in sperm production, the trace element zinc plays an important role in fertility and reproduction. The "men's mineral" is not only relevant for maintaining the normal testosterone gel in the blood, it also has a part to play in cell division. The correct copying and packing of the genetic code during sperm production is a decisive factor for the lifespan and "marksmanship" of a sperm. Like selenium, zinc also protects cells from oxidative stress.

Good to know: The result of changes in lifestyle habits is evident at the earliest after about three months.

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Advice for getting pregnant - this affects fertility

Healthy diet - these foods offer support:

People who eat healthily tend to actually be healthier. And being healthier makes it easier for you to make babies. Mother Nature simply engineered it this way. In this sense, couples wishing to have a baby should start with a balanced diet full of vital materials and variety. Fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality pulses, nuts, whole grain products and lean protein sources form a healthy basis for a broad and good supply of micronutrients. Women who wish to fall pregnant should ensure a sufficient supply of nutrients, especially folic acid, the pregnancy vitamin. Special dietary supplements can strengthen the daily nutrient intake in times of increased demand.

Alcohol, nicotine, etc. – time-out for the baby: 

Those who like to use stimulants such as alcohol and nicotine should give these up for the sake of fertility. These substances can cause men to suffer decreased sperm activity, while in women they reduce the likelihood of fertilisation and increase the risk of miscarriage. If you wish to have children, you should avoid potential environmental pollutants, such as pesticides, poor quality drinking water, plasticizers, etc. in cosmetics and plastic packaging.

Healthy weight

Being severely overweight or underweight can have a negative effect on fertility. Overweight women can suffer from cycle disorders due to hormonal imbalances, while underweight women may experience a lack of ovulation and menstrual bleeding. Men are also advised to normalise their body weight, because too much or too little on the male ribs can increase the risk of impaired testicular function and reduced sperm formation. Even if there’s no sign of a baby (yet), the step towards normal weight is, in any case, a healthy move for you to make.

Exercise - time to get active:

As mentioned, people who have an active body generally have better chances of conceiving a baby. That’s why you need the “vitalising agent” exercise at this point. Those who lead an active life with sufficient exercise score not only with greater endurance, but also promote their own fertility. But be careful: Too intensive a workload or heavy physical stress can have the opposite effect!

No stress! 

Internal stress often begins with the first thought of becoming pregnant. Expectations and the pressure to succeed make sex a compulsory exercise. However, permanent stress is out of place here; after all, this should be a child of love and not of perfect planning. In addition, stress can shift the female cycle and change lifestyle habits (e.g. less frequent sexual intercourse, more frequent alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, smoking). The fact that about a third of couples need more than a year to fall pregnant may well take a little wind out of your sails. So reduce your stress level and take time for more relaxation (such as walking, yoga or massage).

Sufficient & regular sleep:

If there’s still no sign of a baby, night owls should aim to get a full night’s sleep. Studies show that sleep deficits stress our body and can stand in the way of the desire to have children. Night shifts are particularly bad, as they can disrupt the hormone balance of both sexes. The optimal sleep duration is seven to eight hours a day – ideally in harmony with your internal body clock and thus the hormonal cycle. If possible, try to go to bed at the same time each night.

Home remedies for fertility - old tricks to getting pregnant: 

Our ancestors dealt with the topic of fertility early on – they practised fertility rites and used selected wild plants that promised increased fertility. 

If you would like to support your family planning with herbal home remedies as well, it is best to seek advice from an experienced phytotherapeutically trained doctor or therapist. In addition to the traditional European plants, traditional Chinese plant history and Ayurveda also offer plant-based options.

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