Myths abound when it comes to fertility and conception. It’s time look at some common misperception and separate fact from fiction. You may be going online, reading fertility message boards and talking to friends and family……the one thing talking to others can do is perpetuate common fertility myths – and I’ve heard them all.
It may seem like getting pregnant should be easy, but for many couples, having a baby isn’t quite so simple. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infertility affects approximately 12 percent of the reproductive-age population. In the United States, this adds up to more than 7.3 million women and their partners.
Not surprisingly, it may also seem like there’s a wealth of advice on how you can increase your chances of having a baby. While some of this information may be accurate and nearly all of it is well-intentioned, as it turns out, many fertility tips are nothing more than old wives’ tales. How can you tell the difference between fact and fiction?
As a doctor, I regularly meet couples that have been trying to get pregnant through approaches that don’t work. I really feel for these patients as they have been trying so hard for so long, yet they instead could have been successful with better information
While many of the myths are harmless or even amusing, some advice can actually hinder a couple’s chances of conceiving. That is why it is important for couples to talk with their physician, particularly if they are having problems conceiving.
MYTH #1 : Ovulation usually occurs on Day 14 of the cycle.
Probably the most widely held fertility myth is the notion that women always ovulate on Day 14 of their cycle. If this were indeed true, there would be virtually no need for birth control, since couples could simply avoid that one day. And scores of couples desiring a child would simply have intercourse on Day 14, and Bingo, get pregnant.
MYTH #2: A woman can get pregnant only one day per cycle.
While it is true that a human egg is only viable for 12 to 24 hours, a woman can actually get pregnant from an act of intercourse occurring anytime from about five days prior to ovulation to even occasionally two days after, for a total of about seven days.
The reason for this is that the sperm can survive up to five days inside the woman’s reproductive tract.
MYTH #3: Conception occurs in the uterus.
Conception actually occurs in the outer third of the fallopian tubes, and not in the uterus, as many people think. The reason for this is that an egg can only live 12-24 hours, so by the time 24 hours have passed, the egg has only traveled as far as the outer third of the tubes. Implantation on the other hand, does occur in the uterus.
MYTH#4: Infertility is primarily a female problem.
In reality, it is about 40% female, 40% male, 20% both.
MYTH #5: I can wait until I’m 40 to conceive
Truth: When to start a family is up to you. But as you make your decision, keep these basic fertility facts in mind:
- A man’s fertility drops after age 35.
- At 30, a healthy woman has about a 20% chance per month of conceiving.
- By the time a woman reaches 40, her chances drop to about 5% per month.
Getting pregnant — at any age — is not an automatic. And as you age, it may become increasingly difficult to conceive, despite all the media stories you’ve heard. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after regular, unprotected intercourse after 12 months (or six months if a woman is over 35).
MYTH #6: We’ve already had one child, so conceiving again will be easy
Truth: There’s no guarantee. Each case is different. Many Americans experience secondary infertility, or difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent child. This problem is often caused by age-related factors.
MYTH #7: You should have sex less often to try to get pregnant
Truth: The false logic behind this myth is that spacing out the time between sexual intercourse will allow the sperm to “build up” so that it’s more potent when you do have sex. For women who have regular 28-day periods, the NIH recommends having sex every two to three days between the seventh and 18th days after your period. Going longer than several days may actually decrease sperms’ mobility and affect the number of normally shaped sperm (normally shaped sperm can reach the egg more easily).
MYTH #8: Taking birth control when you’re younger can make you less fertile
Truth: Taking birth control pills does not affect a woman’s ability to conceive later on. For some women, fertility returns to normal levels immediately; for others, it takes a few months. In fact, long-term use of birth control pills may actually help later fertility, according to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction. The study found that women who had been on the pill for five years or longer were more likely to get pregnant within six months or a year of trying, compared with women who had never been on the pill.
Hope this helps!