Ever had someone tell you to cheer up and smile? It’s probably not the most welcomed advice, especially when you’re feeling sick, tired or just plain down in the dumps. But there’s actually good reason to turn that frown upside down, corny as it sounds. Science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
It’s a pretty backwards idea, isn’t it? Happiness is what makes us smile; how can the reverse also be true? The fact is, as Dr. Isha Gupta a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explains, a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”
Fake It Till You Make It
In other words, smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy which can then spur actual feelings of happiness. But it doesn’t end there. Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist in Los Angeles points to the science of psychoneuroimmunology (the study of how the brain is connected to the immune system), asserting that it has been shown “over and over again” that depression weakens your immune system, while happiness on the other hand has been shown to boost our body’s resistance.
“What’s crazy is that just the physical act of smiling can make a difference in building your immunity,” says Dr. Grossan. “When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humor is happening.”
In a sense, the brain is a sucker for a grin. It doesn’t bother to sort out whether you’re smiling because you’re genuinely joyous, or because you’re just pretending.
“Even forcing a fake smile can legitimately reduce stress and lower your heart rate,” adds Dr. Sivan Finkel, a cosmetic dentist at NYC’s The Dental Parlour. “A study performed by a group at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who could not frown due to botox injections were happier on average than those who could frown.”
And there are plenty more studies out there to make you smile (or at least, serve as reference for why you should). Researchers at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress and lower heart rate in tense situations; another study linked smiling to lower blood pressure, while yet another suggests that smiling leads to longevity.
There are a variety of ways to try to boost your health including exercise, supplements, doctor visits, prescriptions, and dental visits, but one of the fastest, easiest—and best of all—free ways to do it is by smiling. Smiling gives a positive upward push to your mood, success, overall health, longevity and even the moods of those around you. Genuine smiles do the best but even forced smiling when you’re not happy can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Smiling makes you feel better, gives people a better impression of you, and has a host of other benefits you might not even realize.
Immune system boost – When you smile, your body relaxes, and this allows your immune system to defend against invaders more effectively and quickly.
Stress reduction – Stress causes numerous health problems so when you feel it creeping over you, try smiling and you’ll enjoy the endorphins released that counter and reduce stress hormones.
Improves mood – The endorphins released while smiling improve your mood so even if you’re not feeling it at first, smile anyway and eventually you’ll feel genuinely better.
Fountain of youth – A genuine smile lifts your face and brightens your appearance, making you appear an average of three years younger.
Happier heart – When you smile and laugh, studies show that you’re less likely to develop heart disease as smiling temporarily reduces blood pressure, relaxes the body, and slows the heart rate.
Build trust – A genuine smile can quickly earn the trust of those around you and improve your social health and professional life.
Beneficially contagious – When you smile, studies show that about 50% of people will smile back at you, which shares the health benefits with everyone around you.
Boost productivity – A few moments of laughing and smiling during the work day can boost productivity and make you feel more motivated performing tasks.
Improve attention – When you feel stressed, your field of focus narrows and your body assumes a coiled up fight or flight mode, but smiling widens your attention and enables you to multitask better to handle problems.
Pain reducer – Those smiling and laughing endorphins have yet another benefit as they lessen and sometimes stop the pain.
Increase attractiveness – Smiling can make you more attractive to everyone around you and have beneficial effects on your social and romantic life.
Promote success – When you smile, you appear self-assured, confident and in-control, which are all very appealing qualities in the workplace and can make your boss and coworkers more likely to approach you with beneficial opportunities.
Longer life – Studies show that people who smile more often can live approximately seven years longer than those who don’t smile as much. With the stress reducing, heart helping, and mood-boosting endorphins released while smiling, you may enjoy a longer, healthier life.
When you love your smile, you’re eager to share it with the rest of the world, and this not only improves your life, but it helps the moods of those around you. If you’re not as happy with your smile as you’d like, contact our offices to inquire about ways to achieve your best, most beautiful smile.
Be honest: how often do you truly, genuinely smile?
Chances are, you smile every day, but you probably spend most of your day, well..not smiling. Most of us tend to smile only when something goes exceedingly well, like when we’re in a particularly good mood or get some exciting news.
But, what would happen you made it a habit to smile more, all of the time?
Well, it turns out, there are a ton of benefits to smiling a lot, and in this post I thought I’d share thirteen of the most important reasons to smile more!
13 Reasons to Smile More, Every Single Day
- Smiling Helps You Feel Relaxed and Comfortable. Firstly, have you ever noticed that smiling is an instant relaxant? Often, we hold tension in our bodies that we don’t even realize we hold (this tension is higher when we’re stressed or worried), and smiling is a great way to immediately relax your body, from your face all the way down to your toes. This helps you to feel more comfortable, and appear to be more in control of any situation, which means…
- Smiling Makes You Look Confident. There’s a direct correlation between confidence and positivity. When you smile, you literally enter into that positivity, if only for a moment, making it easier to spark feelings of confidence and empowerment that carry over into the task at hand, and influence others around you.
- Smiling Makes You More Likable. When you know that you are relaxed and in control, you exude a magnetic aura that attracts others to you. This charisma is a subtle, but powerful force that makes you more likable.
- Smiling Builds Trust. Likability is a precursor to trust. When someone smiles at you, you are more likely to let your guard down, and you begin to build a relationship with that person that is stronger and more authentic than you would if the person presented a cold, closed-off look. This makes it easier to bond and build trust, both in professional and personal relationships.
- Smiling Reduces Stress. Another benefit of smiling is that it reduces your overall stress levels. When your body relaces (as mentioned in #1), you also have a tendency to release any mental stress that you have. This physical-emotional connection causes a positive spiral, increasing your overall well-being. This means…
- Smiling Makes You Feel Healthier. Think about it: when you’re relaxed, comfortable, confident, and not stressed, you feel better. When you feel better, you’re also more likely to take positive actions that further encourage feeling of health and happiness.
- Smiling Reverses The Effects of Aging. Over the long run, consistent smiling is correlated with consistent feelings of health and well-being. This actually slows down the aging process, meaning that smiling can be a direct contributor towards helping you to feel younger and more attractive.
- Smiling Helps Others. In addition, a friendly smile can go a long way towards helping others, even people who you don’t know. Smiling kindly to a stranger you pass on the street or someone you have a brief interaction with (like a waiter or a sales clerk), not only improves your mood, but also the mood of the other person. Intuitively, this makes sense. After all, when someone is nice to you, you tend to be nicer back, right? This can cause a chain reaction that can dramatically increase positivity in your community, far beyond the reach of your original smile.
- Smiling Helps You Become More Compassionate. Another, less obvious, reason for smiling, is that it can actually help you to empathize more strongly with others. When you smile during a conversation, your smile can help you to respond more clearly to the subtle emotions of the other person, meaning your responses can better help them, and you can relate more directly to their situation.
- Smiling Leads To Productivity and Success. When you smile, you release dopamine and other neurotransmitters into the brain that help you to focus more clearly and come up with better, more logical, and more productive solutions. Done once, this can put you into a feeling of flow, but over time, can dramatically increase your overall productivity and success! Learn more about how to increase productivity and happiness.
- Smiling Boosts Your Creativity. When you are happy and peaceful, you are also more able to tap into a source of creative inspiration beyond the logical mind. The dopamine released during a smile can help you to come up with more innovative solutions to problems, and think more clearly.
- Smiling Expands Your Resilience. If you smile consistently, you will also become more resilient. This means that you become less susceptible to negativity in your environment, as you are more able to stay focused on the positive opportunities in every scenario, and more easily able to bounce back from any setbacks you may encounter along the way.
- Smiling Makes You Happier. Last but certainly not least…smiling makes you a happier, more peaceful, and more positive person. Hands down, this is the most important reason to start practicing your smile, all day, every day!
Like this tip? Learn more about Easy Happiness Habits to boost your peace, joy, and well-being, every day!
Smiling often can help you live a few years longer.
You may have heard it as a joke in random conversation several times and dismissed it as one of those thing we say just to keep a conversation.
However, I tell you that a smile can actually increase your chances of a healthy life and by implication make you live longer and the more frequent you smile and the deeper your laughter lines, the better your chances of a long stay on our planet.
As a child, a smile if one of the first expressions we return as babies because smiling is a natural part of being a human. Again, smiling presents us differently to people, as approachable and friendly – even a stranger quickly segregates a crowd into friendless and hostiles just by looking at their faces.
It is also said that smiling helps your immune system because its function improves when you are more relaxed, allowing your body to exist in a more positive, stress-free environment.
SeniorLife Health wrote that smiling is like activating a ‘free natural drug’.
“Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a free, “natural drug”.”
Same view was echoed by The Fairfield Post.
“Smiling is also really good for your health! Did you know you can reduce the chances of getting sick if you smile every day? Researchers have found a smile releases feel good hormones – endorphins – which make your immune system work better,” it wrote.
You many be aware of the fact that smiling makes a face attractive but the effects of a good smile extend past just the exterior good looks SunWarrior says.
“People who smile more often live longer too, around 7 years longer than most according to one study. It releases stress, helps the heart, and much more to keep you healthy longer.”
Results of a study by a team of experts, as reported by the Telegraph, also supports this theory.
Note that faking a smile is of no benefit at all!
“The study also found that putting on a false smile did not work, as only those who looked genuinely happy had the extra life expectancy,” reports the Telegraph.
Perhaps this is because, according to SunWarrior, “Smiles do a lot more than simply let the world know you’re happy, but they have to be genuine to get the full effect.”
So smile genuinely always and take advantage of one of very free and easy way free means to boost your health, mood, longevity, and even your success.
. But don’t spend all your money attending comedy shows just to live longer! LOL!
By Vickie Barnes – BabyHopes.com April 27, 2019
Whether this is your first baby or your third, you may have your heart set on having a baby boy. Most of the time, you will have a 50 / 50 chance of that happening.
If you follow some of the suggestions below, you may be able to boost the possibility of having a boy beyond the 50% mark.
How Your Baby’s Gender is Determined
The chromosomes determine the sex of your baby from his mother (her egg) and father (his sperm). The mother’s genetic contribution is a 2 X chromosomes (XX). The father supplies an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.
For you to have a baby boy, the mother provides an X chromosome, and the father donates one of his x chromosomes. Male children will typically have the same chromosome pair as his father, XY. All this happens automatically, and you usually don’t have much control in how the chromosomes combine.
If you only have two possible genders that are available, statistically, your chance of having a boy is 50%, sort of like a coin toss. Depending on how much money you have, your choices would be a bit limited.
You significantly raise your chances of conceiving a baby of your gender preference, but the path will not be cheap or easy and involves many fertility specialists.
We will cover those options below but will start with the most common and least expensive ways you can try to influence the gender of your baby to be.
Understanding the Shettles Method for Gender Selection
For over two decades, countless couples have relied upon the Shettles Method to influence the sex of their baby. When used properly, the Shettles method claims a success rate between 75 and 90 percent in conceiving the desired gender.
Throughout his book, Dr. Landrum Shettles gives couples techniques to promote the conception of a boy. While the basic outline of the method is below, Dr. Shettles’ book is much more thorough.
The Shettles Method is premised on the idea that boy sperm is smaller in size and less robust but are quicker than girl sperm. (The medical community has refuted the premise that the male sperm is faster since Shettles published his work.) The recommendations below derive from Shettles’ understanding.
Timing Sex Close to Ovulation
Timing Intercourse and its Frequency
As was mentioned above, the best time to have intercourse if you want a baby boy is no more than 24 hours before ovulation and no later than 12 hours after ovulation has occurred.
Boy sperm will reach the egg more quickly near ovulation because the cervical mucus becomes slippery and less acidic, providing a favorable environment for the boy sperm’s survival.
Whelan Method for Gender Prediction
In her book, Boy Or Girl?, Dr. Whelan suggests that you have sex 4 to 6 days before you ovulate, to conceive a male baby.
To determine when you will be ovulating, she suggests that you chart your BBT temperatures for several months before trying to conceive. The data collected during this time will help you pinpoint when your temperature typically rises about .5 degree – an indication of when you have ovulated.
Once you know when you are ovulating, you can calculate backward to help you have sex at the appropriate time to have sex to get pregnant with a boy.
|For both the Shettles method and Dr. Whelan’s method, reading the books is vital, so you understand the steps involved in order to conceive a child of the desired sex.|
These methods are not guaranteeing that you will have a boy. Dr. Shettles method claims an 80-90% success rate, and Whelan’s approach has a claimed success rate of 65% when trying to conceive a boy baby. All the methods appear to do is increase your chances of having a boy, so try the one that seems the best to you.
Other Gender Selection Tools
You can also try other methods to increase your chances beyond the 50% average that is usually there. They have the same sort of success rate as the books above, but they give you more alternatives to try and sway the gender game in your favor.
Chinese Gender Chart
This chart is supposedly an ancient Chinese way of helping you have the baby of your preferred gender. The chart is rumored to have been found in a Chinese tomb over 700 years ago. The Labor of Love has two versions of this chart that you can try. Based on the polling of the people who tried them out, the average accuracy rate is about 65%.
Using an Ovulation Calendar
Babyhopes has a free ovulation calculator that provides guidelines as to when to have sex if you are trying to have a boy. You will need to know how long your cycles are and when your last period arrived to use this effectively.
The Big “O” – Orgasm
Orgasms during intercourse should be embraced when trying to conceive a boy because the vaginal environment will become more alkaline following the orgasm, a fact that is favorable to the boy sperm. Additionally, an orgasm will help the boy sperm move up into the cervix and toward the ovum.
Conceiving a Boy Can Have a High Success Rate – For a High Cost
If you are undergoing infertility treatments which include an IUI or IVF, you can also add preimplantation genetic testing of the embryos. This testing typically checks for chromosomal and genetic disorders, but the sex of the embryos can also be determined.
Depending on your doctor and clinic, you may be able to say that you only want male embryos transferred. This genetic testing is almost 100% accurate in determining gender. Due to ethical reasons, you may have to shop around to find a practice that is okay with this.
There are a couple of potential issues with using these procedures to make sure you have a baby boy. Cost is a significant barrier for most people. The price for the IVF with the added genetic testing can run upwards of $20,000.
In addition to the cost, you will have to subject yourself to all sorts of poking and prodding. To harvest your eggs for the procedure, you will have to take fertility drugs to get them ready. The medications can have an unpleasant side effect. The egg retrieval can be painful as well.
In addition to these, you might have a problem finding doctors/practices that are willing to allow gender selection like this. Using assisted reproductive technology (ART) to select the gender of your baby is currently a very hot topic with supporters both for and against using assisted reproductive technology (ART) to choose the gender of your baby.
Obviously having sex increases your chances of getting pregnant. Getting pregnant naturally is impossible without it. While logic would tell you that the more you have sex the greater your chances are that a sperm and egg will finally meet and make a baby, that’s not necessarily the case.
“That’s one of the misconceptions a lot of people have when they come in for the first time,” Wendy Chang, M.D., a reproductive endocrinology specialist at Southern California Reproductive Center, tells SELF. “The biggest thing that’s unclear is how often they should be having intercourse.” As it turns out, doing the deed more than once a day probably won’t increase your chances of getting pregnant. But you also shouldn’t be limiting your romps for fear of depleting sperm.
“It’s an old wives’ tale that waiting for a whole week could save up a whole bunch of good sperm and give you the best possible chance of getting pregnant,”Alan B. Copperman, M.D., director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Mount Sinai Hospital and medical director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, tells SELF. “What that does is often cause couples to miss peak fertile periods, so waiting for a whole week isn’t a great idea,” he adds.
Semen volume and sperm concentration does go down with ejaculation frequency, but the Mayo Clinic notes that this reduction usually isn’t an issue for healthy men. Studies also show that daily ejaculation can improve sperm quality and motility (aka, its ability to move). “If sperm is stored too long in the genital tract, oxidation can occur,” Chang explains. This can cause damage to the swimmers—similarly to how oxidation damages skin cells and leads to signs of aging. Because of this, some experts believe that it’s beneficial to have sperm cycle through more often instead of letting it sit around for too long. “Men with poor sperm DNA quality can improve the quality if they ejaculate daily,” she says. “So it’s actually beneficial from a pregnancy rate and sperm quality point of view for patients to have daily intercourse,” she adds.
Having sex more than once a day, though, probably isn’t going to further anyone’s mission. “Having sex three times a day won’t cause infertility, but the second and third time won’t add to the likelihood of success,” Copperman says. Whereas women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, the testes are making new sperm every day. “So guys are making sperm all the time, but the number of mature sperm that are ready to procreate is somewhat limited.” If you’re having sex more than once a day, it’s likely the man’s sperm won’t be completely recharged, if you will, for rounds two, three, four. you get the point. That doesn’t mean you should put a limit on your sexy time. “At some point it just becomes recreational and not procreational,” Copperman says. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re trying to relieve some stress during a very stressful process.
Generally, Chang says she suggests couples have sex daily in the week leading up to and on the day of ovulation. (Here’s how to figure out when you’re ovulating and therefore, your most fertile.) But it’s important to note that every couple’s fertility is different, so what works for some may not be right for others. In any given month, a healthy, fertile couple (if the woman is under 35) only has about a 20 percent chance of conceiving, so it’s normal if you don’t get pregnant right away. If you’ve been trying for 12 months to no avail, or 6 months if you’re over 35, it’s worth seeing a fertility specialist. Coital frequency is far from the top cause of infertility, so if you’re having sex during your most fertile times and still having a tough time conceiving, something else might be going on.
Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.
Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in weight management and eating behaviors.
Many see smiling simply as an involuntary response to things that bring you joy or inspire laughter. While this is certainly true, it overlooks an important point: Smiling can be a conscious, intentional choice. It appears that whether your smile is genuine or not, it can act on your body and mind in a variety of positive ways, offering benefits for your health, your mood, and even the moods of people around you.
Smiling Helps You Live Longer
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Paul Bradbury / Caiaimage / Getty Images
Perhaps the most compelling reason to smile is that it may lengthen your overall lifespan. One 2010 study found that genuine, intense smiling is associated with longer life.
Overall, happy people seem to enjoy better health and longevity, though more research is needed to understand why that is. Research does suggest that happiness could increase lifespan by years—suggesting maintaining a happy, positive mood may be an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can permeate our entire being, and it can really show up in our faces. Smiling not only helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed but it can actually help decrease stress.
Believe it or not, smiling can reduce stress even if you don’t feel like smiling or even if you fake it with a smile that isn’t genuine. When you are stressed, take the time to put on a smile. You and those around you will reap the benefits.
Smiling Elevates Mood
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better. The physical act of smiling actually activates pathways in your brain that influence your emotional state—meaning that by adopting a happy facial expression, you can “trick” your mind into entering a state of happiness. This holds true whether or not your smile is real.
A simple smile can trigger the release of neuropeptides that improve your neural communication, as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood. Think of smiling like a natural antidepressant.
Smiling Is Contagious
How many times have you heard that a smile has the power to light up the room? While it is certainly a beautiful sentiment, it carries a hint of truth. Smiling not only has the ability to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others for the better.
Your brain automatically notices and interprets other people’s facial expressions—and sometimes, you may even mimic them. That means that you might spot someone else’s smile and unconsciously smile yourself. Yes, it is scientifically proven that smiles are contagious.
Smiling Boosts the Immune System
Smiling can also boost your overall health by helping your immune system to function more effectively. It is thought that when you smile, immune function improves because you are more relaxed (thanks to the release of certain neurotransmitters). Whether you’re trying to maintain your overall health or strengthen your immune system ahead of cold and flu season, smiling may help.
Smiling May Lower Blood Pressure
Smiling could have a beneficial impact on your blood pressure. Laughter specifically seems to lower blood pressure, after causing an initial increase in heart rate and breathing. While smiling has been shown to lower your heart rate in the face of stress, more research is needed to determine exactly how it reduces blood pressure.
You can try testing this idea for yourself if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes and take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?
Smiling Reduces Pain
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together, these brain chemicals make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do they elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural drug.
Smiling Makes You Attractive
We are naturally drawn to people who smile. While more severe or negative facial expressions like frowns, scowls, and grimaces work in the opposite manner, effectively pushing people away, smiling is seen as more attractive—and people may even assume you have more positive personality traits if you’re smiling.
Not only can smiling make you more attractive, but it can also make you look more youthful. The muscles we use to smile also lift the face, making a person appear younger. So instead of opting for a facelift, just try smiling your way through the day—you’ll look younger and feel better.
Smiling Suggests Success
Research has shown that people who smile regularly appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and are more likely to be approached. Try putting on a smile at meetings and business appointments. You might find that people react to you differently.
Smiling Helps You Stay Positive
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard, isn’t it?
Smiling can influence your feelings of positivity, even if it feels unnatural or forced. Regardless of whether or not your smile is genuine, it still sends the message that “Life is good!” to your brain and, ultimately, the rest of your body.
When you’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood, there’s no way to predict exactly how soon you’ll see a positive pregnancy test.
If you’re in pretty good health, and having regular sex without birth control, you should expect to conceive in your first year of trying, says Amelia McLennan, MD. She’s a maternal fetal medicine specialist at UC Davis Medical Center.
“In general, about half of couples will get pregnant within 6 months, and about 70%-80% will get pregnant within 1 year,” she says.
But you and your partner can boost your odds of being parents-to-be by knowing the dos and don’ts of fertility. Set yourself up for success with these guidelines.
Men: Keep Tabs on Your Health
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve gone in for a checkup. Many men, especially younger ones, “still feel kind of invincible, and don’t routinely go to the doctor,” says Michael Eisenberg, MD. He’s director of the Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery program at Stanford.
But there’s a big connection between your overall health and your reproductive health, he says, so making time for a quick health check can go a long way for your fertility.
“Good diet, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, better sleep patterns, less stress — all those things have been correlated with semen quality,” Eisenberg says. Your doctor can help you make any changes you might need to be your healthiest self, as well as address any issues that might be a barrier to baby-making.
Women: Learn How to Read the Signs
All pregnancies start when egg meets sperm. So they need to be in the same place at the same time. To help that happen, you can keep track of when your ovaries release an egg, called ovulation, and have sex during that time frame.
If your cycle is regular (with periods coming 26 to 32 days apart), that may just mean having sex on days 8-19 after your period. If you have irregular periods, you may not be able to rely on the calendar alone to know when you’re ovulating. However, there are other ways your body tells you it’s go-time.
To start, take note of your daily discharge. “Cervical mucus increases and becomes very thin, stretchy, and clear as you approach ovulation,” says Staci Pollack, MD. She’s an OB/GYN at the Montefiore Health System. Watch for a consistency like egg whites.
You can also track your basal body temperature (BBT), which is your body’s temperature when it’s fully at rest. A rise of 0.6 degrees or more for over 10 days is a sign that you’ve ovulated. But your most fertile time is 2-3 days before that boost. When you track it for a few months, you’ll get an idea of when you might ovulate on your next cycle.
For a more precise measure of those pre-ovulation days, you can buy an ovulation predictor kit from the drugstore. It tests your urine for hormone levels that spike a few days before ovulation.
Both: Have the Right Amount of Sex
Once you’ve got a handle on your fertile window, set a good schedule for sex. “We recommend couples have sex about every other day from a few days prior to ovulation until a few days after,” McLennan says. Doing it more often doesn’t hurt your odds, she adds, but there are some studies that show it may lower a man’s sperm count.
As for how you have sex, that’s up to you. Position doesn’t affect your odds of conceiving, and keeping your legs in the air afterward won’t raise your chances, either. “Sperm are pretty fast swimmers, and after an act of intercourse, they can be in the tubes as soon as within 2 minutes,” Pollack says.
Men: Watch Your Testicle Temperature
Love a hot soak in the bath? Tend to hit the sauna after a workout? You may want to cool your jets on these habits while you’re trying to conceive.
“The testicles are a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body, because that’s a better temperature for sperm production, so anything that warms them up can potentially be an issue,” Eisenberg says.
Studies have found that exposure to wet heat can lower your sperm count. And it takes your body 2-3 months to make new, mature sperm.
Another heat source to watch out for: laptops. “They’re less warm than they used to be, but they can raise the scrotum [temperature] about a degree, which is enough to impact sperm production in a pretty short time, sometimes in less than 15 minutes,” Eisenberg says. Play it safe and do your computing on a table or desk.
And how about that age-old boxers vs. briefs debate? Eisenberg says both are fine. “It really doesn’t matter that much. You should wear whatever’s comfortable to you,” he says.
Women: Watch Your Weight
If you’re overweight, you’ll raise your chances of putting a bun in the oven if you slim down. Extra pounds make you more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles, or to not ovulate at all, McLennan says. “Losing even a small percentage of body weight can increase fertility and decrease health risks during pregnancy.”
Being too thin impacts fertility, too. Not only are you more likely to have irregular periods if you’re underweight, you’re also at risk for preterm birth once you do get pregnant, and your baby is more likely to be born at a low birth weight.
Both: Mind Your Medications
Before you get down to baby-making business, review your meds with your doctor to be sure they don’t affect your fertility — or won’t cause harm to a future baby. For example, men who take testosterone may need to wean off, Eisenberg says.
Women should be cautious about testosterone, too, as well as any medications that treat thyroid issues, seizures, or psychiatric disorders, or those that have the hormones estrogen or progesterone, McLennan says.
Birth control pills use these hormones to prevent pregnancy. But if you’ve recently stopped taking them, there’s no need to fret about a post-pill waiting period. Your body should be ready to conceive right away, even if you took them for years. “The length of time you used any form of birth control doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant,” Pollack says.
And if you’re not already taking folic acid, now’s the time to start. “Taking a daily folic acid supplement not only helps prevent birth defects, it may increase fertility as well,” McLennan says.
Amelia McLennan, MD, maternal fetal medicine specialist, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis, CA.
Michael Eisenberg, MD, director, Male Reproductive Medicine & Surgery Program, Stanford Medicine.
Staci Pollack, MD, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Montefiore Medical Center.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning,” “Good Health Before Pregnancy: Preconception Care.”
National Institutes of Health: What are Menstrual Irregularities?
Office on Women’s Health: “Trying to Conceive.”
Mayo Clinic: “How to get pregnant.”
Official Journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology: “Wet heat exposure: a potentially reversible cause of low semen quality in infertile men.”
It happened to me, and I wanted a solution.
There’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that sex gets better with age. But if your salad days are a decade or two behind you, may have noticed that your orgasms aren’t quite what they used to be. I’m talking about a few different but sometimes related things here; a weakening in the way an orgasm feels; a weakening in the force with which you ejaculate and a reduction in the volume of semen you produce when you orgasm.
It was several years ago that I started to notice that orgasms that rendered me unable to remember my name or where I was were becoming few and far between. Then, last winter, I started to suspect that the volume of semen I produced was decreasing and the past few months, I’ve become certain that the force of my ejaculations has been on the wane. Before chalking it up to the aging process and accepting that my orgasms were going to be markedly less spectacular from here on out, I decided to educate myself on what might be going on down there. I’m glad that I did, and if you want the best orgasms of your life to be ahead of you, you will be, too.
Start Living on the Edge
There are certain changes we expect to take place as part of the aging process. One we might not think about too much is our capacity for making more semen. In one study, men over the age of 52 had half the volume of semen as men under that age (1.8 ml versus 3.2ml).
“The ability to create the components of semen is also affected by advancing years as the body performs none of its functions with the same robust efficiency of youth as men age,” says Michael Reitano, physician-in-residence at men’s health startup Ro. While turning back time is not an option, lengthening the time between ejaculations is, and it could result in higher volumes.
Even if a reduced capacity for making a mess isn’t a concern, ejaculating in quick succession is likely to result in weaker feeling orgasms, according to Erik Wibowo, a male anatomy expert from the University of Otego in New Zealand. This, he says, is because of the refractory period that follows after an ejaculation in which re-arousal is dampened. Wibowo adds that how quickly you could return to baseline varies significantly between individuals.
“Lessening frequency of ejaculation may help with this,” says psychotherapist Ian Kerner, author of He Comes Next. Kerner says that edging or postponing ejaculation during sex or masturbation may increase the tone of the pelvic floor muscles and increase the force of ejaculation.
Change Your Tune
Getting set in your ways is, generally speaking, part and parcel of getting older. It stands to reason. By the time you get into your 40s, you’ve gained enough experience under your belt to know what trips your trigger and what doesn’t. However, that trigger will be harder to trip if you don’t switch things up every now and again. And that can mean weaker orgasms.
“I’ve observed that when psychological stimulation is high—a particularly juicy piece of porn, a sexual scenario that deviates from one’s pattern—men also claim to have more powerful orgasms, “ says Kerner. “Certainly, psychological stimulation and the percolation of arousal plays a role in the quality of orgasm.”
Your move? Whether it’s in your sex life, your mental fantasies, or the kind of porn your watch, keep an open mind when looking for inspiration. Finding something novel or unexpected is likely to pay dividends.
Pump Up The T
You’ve probably heard that, as men age, the amount of testosterone we produce diminishes. What you may not know is that a drop off in testosterone is linked to weaker orgasms. Wibowo says the difficulty in studying this topic is in part because most men with very low levels of testosterone are not engaged in sexual activity anyway, due to the diminished libido associated with it. He does, however, cite a 2018 paper about how androgen deprivation therapy used to treat prostate cancer causes pelvic floor muscle shrinkage. “This is no surprise because skeletal muscle morphology depends on testosterone,’ he says.
While a doctor will need to see your blood work to assess whether you could be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, there is a suite of things you can do with the aim of boosting it—and your Os—naturally. These include eating a balanced diet consisting of protein, carbs, and fats, engaging regular resistance exercise, lowering stress, supplementing your diet with zinc, vitamin D and other minerals, drinking less alcohol, and making sure you get good sleep consistently. In fact, one study showed that on average, for every additional hour of sleep you fit in, your testosterone levels rise by 15%.