When it comes to fertility, there are enough rumors and old wives’ tales to make your head spin.
With all this misinformation, as hopeful parents you could end up wasting time on methods to boost fertility that won’t help you get pregnant.
Let’s learn the facts and disprove a few of the most common myths to ease your mind.
Myth: Women should lie on their backs for sex
The position you choose for sex (and afterwards) really doesn’t matter when it comes to fertility.
Tips like “have sex with the man on top”, “lift your hips with a pillow”, or “lay with your legs up after sex” may sound reasonable in theory, but most experts agree there isn’t much proof to back these claims.
In fact, the opposite is often true—with more women falling pregnant who got up right after sex, one study by the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam revealed.
The behavior of 479 women undergoing artificial insemination was analyzed.
Of those who had 15 minutes of bedrest after insemination, 32% got pregnant, while 40% of those who got up immediately also had success.
Focus instead on enjoyable positions that work well for you and your partner!
To increase your chances of getting pregnant, pay less attention to positions and more attention to when you’re ovulating.
Then, have sex in any position frequently around your ovulation time to increase your chances of conception.
Fact: Your age affects fertility
Unfortunately, nothing can stop us from getting older (and wiser)! Doctors define ‘advanced maternal age’ as 35 years or above at delivery.
Your age can affect your chances of conceiving as well as increase the risks women face during pregnancy, such as miscarriage.
While many women still get pregnant and have healthy babies in their late thirties and forties, your fertility will still certainly decline as you get older.
Myth: Taking the pill for years will harm your fertility
Most medical professionals agree this is a myth.
There is a body of research to show that women who are on the pill, use copper IUDs or other hormonal contraceptives, fall pregnant within the first year just as quickly as those who use nothing.
The pill can even increase a woman’s fertility, according to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Those who had used the pill for over five years actually fell pregnant faster than those who’d been taking it for just a few months, its researchers found. The average age of the women was 28, and the men 31.
Possible explanations include improved iron stores and the protective effect on the uterus of minimal menstrual shedding.
So while your level of fertility can be negatively affected by other factors, the length of time you’ve taken birth control pills is not one of them.
Fact: Reducing stress can improve fertility
It’s been a widespread belief that women with high levels of stress are less likely to conceive, but there is science to back this up.
When you’re physically or emotionally stressed, your body produces a substance called alpha-amylase.
In the first study of its kind, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Oxford found that the levels of alpha-amylase in women affected their chances of getting pregnant.
Women who are highly stressed were 12% less likely to conceive, it discovered.
Stress drastically affects your overall health in so many ways, so if you’re trying to conceive, you could consider adapting your lifestyle or practicing some stress-relieving activities such as yoga.
Myth: Infertility is only a female problem
In the past, infertility was only generally discussed in relation to women.
But research on male infertility has been growing in recent decades to reveal it as a concern for both partners.
A third of fertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, a third by female problems and the remainder by both—or unknown—causes, experts believe.
Similarly, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority in the U.K. attributes about 50% of infertility problems to sperm.
If you’re experiencing any trouble conceiving, it’s important to remember not to make assumptions, and for both of you to seek medical advice.
Fact: Tight underwear affects male fertility
This widely spread piece of advice is actually backed by science, we promise!
Men who wear boxers during the day and nothing to bed do less damage to the DNA in their sperm than men who wear tight underpants both day and night, scientists writing in Andrology journal reported, after analyzing a year’s worth of semen samples across America.
Gentlemen, it may be time to ditch the tighty whities if you want a baby!
Myth: If you stop trying so hard to get pregnant, you will
Probably the most common myth in terms of fertility—and perhaps the most eye-roll-inducing, is the one that says you just need to relax and stop trying so hard.
Trying to get pregnant can be stressful for some, and as mentioned above, high levels of stress can negatively affect your ability to conceive.
However, this statement is just too vague and oversimplified. Just because someone stops thinking about or wanting to have a baby, it doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen.
If you’re a couple trying to conceive, there’s no need to worry about the past or fertility rumors.
Rather, focus on the facts, seek professional medical advice, and try to enjoy the process!