In the fertility world, there are many misconceptions about what may or may not help chances of pregnancy. Over the years, I’ve come to notice several myths that seem to be the most widely believed.
Myth #1: Food can make you fertile. One of the top myths that I am asked about repeatedly is about foods that people should eat to help get them pregnant. There is no medical evidence that a specific category of food has ever been shown to increase fertility in any way.
Instead of focusing on specific foods, I tell my patients to simply strive for a well-balanced diet of healthy foods, limiting both alcohol and caffeine intake to one caffeinated beverage daily and limiting alcoholic beverages to one to two drinks at a time, at a maximum of once to twice a week. I encourage patients to participate in a healthy exercise regimen and to eat the healthiest foods possible, including a diet containing lots of antioxidants.
Myth #2: Sexual positions boost your chances. Another entertaining question I receive frequently is if there is a particular sexual position that can help get someone pregnant. Again, no medical research has shown that a specific position during intercourse has increased pregnancy rates.
Much of the research out there has shown that sperm has the capability of traveling and arriving in the fallopian tubes within five minutes of ejaculation, so just staying in the reclined position for a little while after ejaculation would probably be the most beneficial. Additionally, performing extreme activities such as running may not be recommended during peak ovulation days. However, there is limited data backing this speculation.
Myth #3: You’re more likely to conceive on vacation. I’m often asked if the majority of people get pregnant while on vacation. Though we do believe that lower levels of stress can help overall health and well-being, and possibly fertility, there is no present data that states that anything that happens on a vacation can increase one’s chances of fertility. With that being said, I do try to encourage anything that promotes relaxation and decreases stress for any couple about to conceive.
Myth #4: Taking prenatal vitamins will increase your chances. While prenatal vitamins are beneficial supplements that can decrease the chances of spinal cord abnormalities in the fetus, they have never been shown to actually increase chances of fertility.
Myth #5: Too much birth control can make you infertile. Many studies have shown that usage of birth control pills has never been related to any person’s fertility. In fact, generally speaking, patients resume normal ovulation after one to six months of being off the birth control pills, and this should not affect overall fertility.
Myth #6: Infertility is always the woman’s fault. Many couples believe that infertility always occurs because of the woman in the relationship. This is actually not true. 30% to 40% of infertility has been documented due to a cause of the male factor, meaning an issue that belongs to the sperm. For this reason, I believe it is very important to have both the male and female evaluated during a fertility consultation.
Myth #7: If you’re fit, you won’t be infertile. I am often asked, “If you are healthy and active, can you avoid fertility problems?” This is absolutely not true! The healthiest and most active people may be the ones with many issues that cause infertility, and in no way does someone’s overall health determine his or her fertility potential.
Myth #8: My lube is ruining my chances. “Can the lubricant I use be affecting my chances of conception?” This is a very important question, and it does have some truth to it since many lubricants that are available over-the-counter have been shown to decrease sperm motility and affect the possibility of healthy sperm reaching the egg.
For couples who want to use a lubricant as they try to conceive, I do recommend a lubricant like Astroglide TTC (Trying To Conceive). It is formulated to support fertility with adjusted pH levels, compatible osmolality and a consistency similar to your body’s cervical mucus. It does not impede the motility of sperm, unlike traditional lubricants.
There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s important to keep in mind that not all of it is true – even if it’s published in a popular magazine or website. If you come across some new information that you’re curious about, it’s best to make sure that a medical professional answers all of your questions; a consultation with a fertility specialist can clarify many of these issues. So before you make a big lifestyle change, call your doctor and set up an appointment – you’ll be glad you did!
Images are for illustrative purposes only.