When trying to start a family, there are plenty of things that couples can do to help optimize their chances of successfully conceiving. But as any fertility doctor knows, there’s also plenty of misinformation out there about fertility and fertility issues. Unfortunately, as a result of this incorrect information, many couples who are trying to conceive are potentially using the wrong baby-making “trick” for the job – meaning that they aren’t taking advantage of their best chances to get pregnant each month.
The good news is that while there’s a lot of misinformation out there, simply ditching the wives’ tales will do a lot to help you conceive sooner rather than later. So if you’re trying to get pregnant this month, be sure to keep reading to find out which conception myths have no place in your bedroom and your pregnancy plans.
Myth #1: If my partner has fathered or given birth to children before, they can’t have fertility issues now.
This is a myth that tends to be applied to men more than women. While it’s well known that fertility in women begins to drop between the ages of 35 and 40, very few people realize that male fertility also decreases with age. So if you’re interested in expanding your family, and you or your partner have already conceived children previously, understand that both of you can potentially develop age-fertility related issues that may need to be addressed at some point (but don’t fret too much – that’s not something you need to worry about right away!).
Myth #2: Women all ovulate 14 days after a period, so we should time baby-making “sexy times” accordingly.
This myth makes many couples’ conception efforts unnecessarily difficult. The idea that a woman ovulates on the 14th day of her menstrual cycle is not a universal rule. It’s actually the day that the average woman ovulates. In fact, according to a study done by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, only about 30% of women are fertile during days 10 to 17 of their menstrual cycles. That means that 70% of the woman will miss their monthly fertile window entirely if they use this myth to guide their baby making efforts. To truly give yourself the best chance to get pregnant each month, you’ll want to use ovulation tracking methods – as well as kits, apps and similar tools – to track your most fertile days each month.
Myth #3: If we have sex at a certain time, in a certain position, we can control whether we conceive a boy or a girl!
Trying to conceive one gender over another has been a subject of discussion throughout time. Some wives’ tales claim that having sex in certain positions will increase your chances of giving birth to one gender over another; others say that having sex a certain amount of time before ovulation can affect the gender of your child. The research, however, says it just doesn’t work that way. There is no relationship between the timing of intercourse and the baby’s gender. (And you may as well enjoy sex in your favorite position when trying to get pregnant, too, because there’s no proof that this affects the chances of having a boy or girl, either!)
Myth #4: To get pregnant, we must have sex within 24 hours after ovulation.
Unfortunately, if you’re having sex after ovulation, you’re literally swinging and missing. Ovulated eggs are only viable for a very short amount of time – in fact, sperm have a 12 – 24 hour window in which they can fertilize an egg each month. And while the quickest sperm can reach the fallopian tubes in as little as half an hour, most require as much as a day or two to reach them. Because of this, it’s important to track your cycle so that you’re having sex during the three to five days before you ovulate – that way, the sperm are already in the fallopian tubes and ready fertilize an ovulated egg.
Myth #5: We need to have sex every day until we get pregnant!
While you can do this if you want, we don’t recommend it! For one thing, women are really only fertile during a certain time of the month; having sex every day could leave you feeling too tired to actually do the deed when the time is right. For another, overdoing sex can diminish the number of sperm in a man’s ejaculations (though not to a point that experts consider this problematic). That said, there’s no need to “store” sperm for the right time, either, as doing this can actually decrease sperm motility. And since the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reports that there’s really no difference in pregnancy rates between couples who had sex daily and those who had sex every other day, it’s clear that doing the deed every day won’t really help or hurt your efforts that much. Your best bet is to track your ovulation date and to just enjoy sex when the mood hits you in the days leading up to it.
Myth #6: After sex, the woman needs to lie back and elevate her hips for 20 minutes.
This one is actually based in a little bit of fact. It is recommended that women lie flat after sex for 5 to 10 minutes to help sperm gain access to the cervix. However, there’s currently no research that has shown just how effective this is; and you certainly don’t need to plan on spending almost half an hour in bed with your hips held up in the air after sex! Five minutes of comfortable cuddling is probably all you need here.
Myth #7: Women need to orgasm to conceive.
This myth is a common one – the idea is that by having an orgasm, a woman’s uterus will contract and help sperm travel more quickly. But for the 1 in 3 women who have trouble orgasming during sex, this myth can create unnecessary stress in the bedroom. The good news is that you don’t need to fret about this too much, as the big “o” moment isn’t a must when trying to conceive. Look at it this way: if you orgasm, yay! And if you don’t, your baby-making efforts aren’t doomed to failure that day.
These 7 common conception myths are just a few examples of the misleading fertility and conception information that’s out there; buying into any of them can make your family planning efforts more difficult than necessary. Fortunately, simply ditching these myths – and ensuring that you’re making good fertility-related lifestyle choices – will help you avoid baby-making “tricks” that do nothing but delay the arrival of a bundle of joy.