When it comes to having a baby, getting pregnant, and raising a child, there is a wealth of information we can find. Books, magazines, the internet, even advice we’ve heard from our parents, grandparents, and friends. And with all this information at your disposal, how do you separate fact from fiction? Today, we’re here to help clear up some of the longstanding myths about fertility and getting pregnant below. So go on and scroll down to see which ones we’ve debunked!
While it’s common for people to believe that infertility is a woman’s problem (I mean, women do carry the baby after all), research in the United States has shown that about 35% of all infertility cases treated are due to a female problem. BUT 35% of all infertility cases are also due to a male problem as well–with 20% coming from both partners, and the remaining 10% due to unknown causes. So if these numbers are anything to go by, I’d say the blame is probably split 50-50. But hey, don’t play the blame game here! Both partners want the same baby after all, right?
“You have to relax, and the baby will just come naturally.” How many of you have heard this from one of your relatives? While it’s not entirely untrue, more often than not, stress is not the cause of infertility. Infertility isn’t a psychological condition, it’s a medical one, and there has been no scientific research proving the causation between stress and infertility.
There are so many factors involved when you try to get pregnant–things like timing, ovulation, health, motility, etc.–that just having sex everyday might not cut it. Of course, there’s no harm in trying, but treating it like a must-do might just cause you more stress and worry (something none of us want!). For most women, ovulation occurs roughly 14 days before the start of your next period, and while this is a rough estimate and really varies per woman, Paul Claman, an OB/GYN from Ottawa, Canada, suggests having sex every two or three days starting 18 days before your period.
We’re all thinking it. Older men can have kids, but for older women, that isn’t exactly the case. So naturally, some people think that men are forever fertile. But, hang on! While women do experience a significant decline in fertility between the ages of 32 and 37, they aren’t the only ones. Men are not exempt from this, and usually once they hit the age of 40, start experiencing decreases in semen volume and motility.
I mean, you did it before. Should be easy to do it again, right? Like riding a bike? That’s not actually the case. Research has actually shown that approximately 30% of infertility happens after the first child. Secondary infertility is actually more common than you think. So if you’re experiencing something like this, we would suggest consulting with your doctor.
If you believe this myth, get ready to throw this belief out of the window, because the truth is the exact opposite. Your health plays a big factor in your fertility, and this goes for both men and women. Besides being generally unhealthy for most everyone, smoking, heavy drinking, and an unbalanced diet are all factors that can affect either you or your partner when it comes to fertility.
So there’s an old wives tale going around that if you have sex early in your fertile period your baby will be a boy, and if you have sex later in your fertile period your baby will be a girl. Some people believe that Y-chromosomes (“boy sperm”) swim faster than X-chromosomes (“girl sperm”), but research has turned up no evidence of the sort. I’m sorry, but unless you go the way of in vitro fertilization, where you choose to implant only the embryos of the sex you choose, then only then will you be able to have a say in whether your child will be a boy or a girl.
Although rare, don’t disprove this one altogether. There is still a possibility for you to get pregnant when you have sex during your period. Dr. Rachel Urrutia, a professor of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina says, “A lot of people don’t realize that when they have sex before ovulation the sperm can survive until ovulation happens. So some people can conceive during their period, and other have sex during their period that can lead to later conception.”
Here’s another old wives’ tale that probably got popular around the ’80s, when people theorized that one of the main ingredients in cough syrup–guaifenesin–can help thin your cervical mucus the same way it thins the mucus in your lungs, therefore supposedly making it easer for the sperm to swim through the cervix and reach the egg. But, as with most myths, there is no scientific backing for this. In fact, drinking cough syrup if you don’t have a cough might actually lead to more negative than positive effects.
I’m sure we all know that every woman is different, and while the average menstrual cycle usually is 28 days, nearly 50% of women’s cycles vary in length by seven or more days. In fact, during a recent study of over 800 women, only 14% of women with a 28 day cycle actually ovulated on day 14, with the results ranging from women ovulating on day 11 up to day 20.
Okay, so the idea behind this is that lifting your legs will tilt your pelvis up, giving the sperm a better chance to reach the eggs. But let me tell you now that there’s no need to make yourself uncomfortable by numbing your legs for long periods of time. Sperm are already chemically programmed to swim directly to your eggs without the extra help of gravity.
Like the holding your legs up and resting myth, this myth was fabricated for the same reason. Some think that the uterine contractions caused by an orgasm helps pull the sperm into the uterus. However, this too has been disproven by studies that have shown that there is no correlation between orgasm and conception. So while it may be a plus, it’s definitely not need for baby making.
Many people think that they don’t have to worry about fertility until they’re 40. But the truth of the matter is that a woman’s fertility usually peaks at age 25 and declines from there. Once she reaches age 35, there is a sharp decline in fertility, and by age 43, most women will be unable to conceive naturally. There’s a reason for the term “biological clock” after all, and looking at that span of time, it’s not a very long window of fertility.
- Archambault, Alex. “6 Myths About Getting Pregnant You Should Stop Believing Right Now.” Business Insider. Last updated July 30, 2018.
- Clearblue Staff. “Fertility Myths and Facts.” Clearblue. Last updated November 28, 2018.
- Fabian, Renee. “7 Popular Infertility Myths, Debunked by Experts.” Heathline. Date accessed January 17, 2019.
- Gaines, Deborah. “8 Myths About Trying to Conceive.” Parents. Date accessed January 17, 2019.
- Rae, Kate. “Trying to Conceive: Myths vs. Facts About Getting Pregnant.” Today’s Parent. Last updated May 1, 2018.
- Robock, Karen. “5 Fertility Myths That are Hurting Your Chances of Getting Pregnant.” Today’s Parent. Last updated November 9, 2017.
- The Fertility Institute Staff. “8 Myths About Infertility.” The Fertility Institute. Date accessed January 17, 2019.