Myths and Facts about Fertility
I’m fit so I will fall pregnant easily
You may be fit, but there are so many more factors that impact your level of fertility.
Things like your age (fertility declines with age); lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol and stress can have a negative impact); medical conditions (common ones are PCOS and endometriosis); and harmful toxins (crop pesticides, paints and diesel fumes to name a couple), all play an important role.
The male’s health isn’t that important when trying to conceive
The male’s reproductive health is actually as important as the female’s and also contributes towards optimising the chances of a healthy baby. Pregnancy needs a healthy sperm and egg to succeed. Healthy sperm should have these qualities: good sperm count; good sperm motility; a good shape and no blockages in the reproductive ducts.
Disturbances can be caused by hormonal problems, blockages, genetic problems, lifestyle issues and more. Studies have shown that 30 percent of infertility is due to the male factor.
I will still have lots of eggs to fall pregnant with until I reach menopause
Women are born with a finite number of eggs that reduce gradually with age. While older women can still have some good quality eggs there will just be a lot fewer of them, hence reducing your chances of success.
Conception rates for normal, healthy couples are, at best, 20-25 percent per menstrual cycle.
Once a woman reaches the age of 35, her fertility (egg quality and quantity) begins to decline and by age 40, it is estimated that her conception rate is in the range of 8-10 percent a month, at age 43 this rate is thought to be as low as 1-3 percent a month. A man’s fertility also declines gradually from the age of 38.
Many infertile couples are trying too hard. If they would just relax, they would conceive right away.
Fact: Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. Instead of booking that Puerto Vallarta vacation, infertile couples should schedule a doctor’s appointment. One or both partners may have a correctable medical condition that stands in the way of conception. If there’s no obvious physical explanation for infertility, a doctor can suggest lifestyle changes that could boost the odds of parenthood.
Most couples can conceive any time they want.
Fact: According to Resolve, more than 7 million Americans of childbearing age have fertility problems. Even under the best circumstances, conception is tricky. It’s not unusual for a perfectly healthy, fertile couple to try for several months or more before achieving a pregnancy. And the longer couples wait to have children, the more difficult it can be: By the time the average woman reaches her early forties, half of her eggs are no longer viable. However, most couples who can afford fertility treatments can eventually conceive, if they are open to the use of egg donation.
Women don’t start to lose their fertility until their late 30s or early 40s.
Fact: According to a report in the journal Human Reproduction, a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 27, although this isn’t clinically significant. Most women of this age can still get pregnant, of course, but it might take a few more months of trying. But by the time a woman reaches 35, her chances of getting pregnant during any particular attempt are about half of what they were between the ages of 19 and 26.
Boxer shorts and loose pants are the ideal garb for prospective fathers.
Fact: Researchers at the University of New York at Stony Brook put this piece of conventional wisdom to the test and concluded that underwear style is unlikely to significantly affect a man’s fertility. What that comes down to is that wearing roomy shorts probably won’t help a man become a father — but on the other hand, it won’t hurt, either.
Little can be done to improve a man’s sperm count.
Fact: No matter how sparse his troops may be, a man still has reason for hope. Many men who produce little or no sperm have blockages or other treatable conditions. Lifestyle changes — such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and staying out of hot tubs — may also help. Some research also found that men who bicycled more than five hours per week had a lower sperm concentration than either couch potatoes or men doing other types of exercise. For this reason, some fertility experts recommend holding off on biking if you and your partner are trying to conceive (and resuming the sport after you’re successful).
A man’s fertility doesn’t change with age.
Fact: While some men can father children into their 80s or 90s, male fertility isn’t age-proof. As reported in Human Reproduction, a man’s fertility usually begins to dip after about age 35. The decline is generally slow and gradual, but it can speed up dramatically if a man develops a condition that hampers sperm production (such as an infection in the genital tract).
Vasectomy reversals are rarely successful.
Fact: According to a report from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, some patients have a better than 50/50 chance of fathering a child after a vasectomy reversal. However, the longer a man waits to have a reverse vasectomy, the lower the odds.
Infertility means you can’t have a child.
Fact: Infertility means that you have been unable to have a child naturally after a year of trying. With the proper treatment, many people go on to have children. In addition, there is a possibility of a couple conceiving without treatment if the woman is ovulating and has one open tube, and the male partner has some sperm in his ejaculate. This rate may be lower than you would hope, but it is not zero.
If you’re struggling with infertility, you undoubtedly have many questions of your own — and maybe even a few misconceptions. Schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist and find out where you stand. Thanks to modern medicine, many infertile couples become parents — and that’s no myth.
During and just after ovulation is the best time to fall pregnant
You are actually most fertile during the few days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation, as this is when the egg has been released into the fallopian tube and is ready for fertilisation.
The egg can survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation, while sperm can survive for up to two days and fertilise an egg in the fallopian tubes. You should take advantage of this window of fertility by having unprotected sex every day or every second day. This will give you the greatest chance of achieving conception.
I’m young so it will be easy to conceive
While the younger you try to fall pregnant is a positive factor as your egg and sperm quantity should be higher, optimal health is equally important for couples trying to conceive – and making sure you are not overweight or underweight is a key factor to consider.
For women, ovulation can be impacted by being either underweight or overweight, and studies have shown that bringing BMI within the normal range can ensure ovulation begins to occur normally, thus increasing chances of pregnancy. Low or high BMI has also been associated with the production of immature eggs when an IVF cycle has started, and this can impact on successful IVF outcomes.
It’s also very important for men to ensure a healthy BMI, and studies have consistently linked obesity to a lower sperm count because, in those who are overweight, testosterone levels drop while estrogen amounts rise
YOU NEED TO ORGASM IN ORDER TO CONCEIVE
Hey, orgasming is always a plus, but when it comes to conceiving, it’s not actually a must. What it does aid in doing is contracting the uterus — which definitely helps sperm travel toward the fallopian tubes faster. But even if this doesn’t happen, your baby-making efforts won’t be for naught.
BREASTFEEDING = BIRTH CONTROL
This one’s as old as the hills. And it’s definitely true that breastfeeding can keep women period-free for longer and, therefore, less fertile, but not _all _women see this effect — so relying on breastfeeding as your sole form of birth control isn’t really the best route to take (particularly for long-term breastfeeders). According to breastfeeding experts, the way to tell if breastfeeding is considerably cutting back on fertility is to look for three things (and all three must be present): 1) complete lack of a period since delivery (light bleeding or spotting after delivery doesn’t count); 2) you’re breastfeeding baby on demand throughout the day and night and not feeding him any other foods or liquids regularly; and 3) baby is less than six months old.
LIFTING YOUR LEGS IN THE AIR FOR 20 MINUTES AFTER HAVING SEX WILL HELP YOU GET PREGNANT
While this may sound like a good idea in theory — the logic being that this will tip your pelvis and help your man’s little swimmers get a direct route to your eggs — all it will probably do is make your legs go numb from all the blood rushing away from your feet. Sperm are chemically programmed to travel directly to your baby-maker following ejaculation, regardless of what position you’re in. (Yes, those mighty sperm defy gravity.) Skeptical? Consider this: Each time your guy ejaculates, he lets out about 2 to 3 cubic centimeters of ejaculation, with about 20 to 80 _million _sperm in each cc — in other words, if a little leaks out after you’ve had sex, there’s plenty more where that came from. As for the final word on positions: While it certainly can’t hurt to shove a little pillow under your hips after sex, there’s no need to hoist any body parts into the air/get all uncomfortable for any extended period of time. Same goes for handstands.
DRINKING ALCOHOL WILL HARM YOUR FERTILITY
Well, this one is actually rooted in some truth. While you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty about having a glass or two of wine or even an occasional couple of beers while trying to conceive, binge drinking or drinking to excess could put your body through the ringer and affect your fertility. Here’s why: Drinking too much and too often can lead to irregular cycles, cutting down your chances of conceiving each month even further, and making it nearly impossible to chart or temp accurately. That being said, there shouldn’t be a ton of weight given to this theory, since chances are, if you’re planning on having a baby, you’re probably not going to keg parties every weekend. Just keep any drinking on the light side and you should be a-okay.
DOING IT MISSIONARY STYLE IS THE ONLY WAY TO CONCEIVE
Good news: Just because you’re trying to conceive doesn’t mean sex can’t be fun. The truth is, at the end of the day, the actual position you do it in doesn’t matter much — as long as there’s deep penetration going on and, of course, your man ejaculates, it’s all the same. So go wild. Do it in every room of the house, make up new positions — whatever floats your boat. You two will be at it a lot these days anyway, so there will be plenty of chances to run the gamut when it comes to trying out new positions and bringing back old favorites. Just remember: Whatever you do, stay away from the lube. Many experts believe it can be a sperm’s kryptonite.
EATING YAMS WHILE TRYING TO CONCEIVE WILL CAUSE TWINS
Yams first got their rep as a twin-maker after researchers started looking into why the African village of Igbo-Ora has one of the highest rates of twin births in the world. The only thing they could come up with? Apparently, the people in Igbo-Ora are crazy about their yams. One study has linked yams and fertility, but the study was the result of a Yale student’s research and has yet to be officially proven. In other words: The jury’s still out on this one!
CHUGGING COUGH SYRUP WILL HELP YOU CONCEIVE
This little falsehood has been around since the ’80s, and we’d like to put an end to it right now. The theory behind this one has to do with one of the common ingredients found in cough syrup: guaifenesin. In a 1982 study, it was considered a potential fertility booster for its ability to thin cervical mucus (in the same way it thins the mucus in your nasal passages), thereby allowing easier travel for sperm to get to your eggs. But considering that no studies have proven this to be true (and the fact that swallowing cough syrup also means you may be taking in other not-so-good things for your fertility like antihistamines), we say next time you hear this wacky piece of advice, just laugh it off. And stay away from the Robitussin (unless, well, you have a cough).
BEING ON THE PILL FOR TOO LONG WILL DELAY PREGNANCY
We’re happy to report that this one’s so not true. Depending on the kind of birth control you were using before you ditched it and started trying to conceive, the rate your cycle regulates may vary, but not by much. As for users of the Pill, tons of cases show that your cycle should get back on track pretty much right away, so you should expect to ovulate within just a few weeks — barring any other issues that may be going on, of course.
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