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13 myths and facts about fertility you need to know if you’re TTC

With 1 in 7 couples struggling to get pregnant, it’s crazy to think that the sex education many of us received in school was all about scaremongering about how easy it was to get pregnant (cue terrifying photos of STI’s and years of fear of unwanted pregnancy!).

While we all probably know that woman who got pregnant right away after coming off the pill (or even got pregnant on it!), for many couples, trying to conceive (TTC) is not an easy task.

If you’re trying for a baby, you may have come across all sorts of myths about what you can do to optimise your fertility. To help you sort fact from fiction when it comes boosting your fertility, I’ve debunked some of the most common fertility myths below.

Myth 1: You can get pregnant every day of your cycle


To get pregnant, you need to have unprotected sex on the days leading up to and around ovulation. The day prior and the day of ovulation being your most fertile days.

A women’s egg lives for about 24 hours so after this has gone, you cannot get pregnant until after your next period. However, sperm can survive for about 5 days in the vagina.

The ‘fertile window’ therefore lasts up to 6 days.

Myth 2: The chance of getting pregnant in any given month is around 20%.

- TRUE -

For most couples, the chances that a woman will become pregnant is around 20% in any given month. According to the NHS, about 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year if they have regular unprotected sex (every 2 or 3 days). However, it’s important to note that there are a few things that might affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant including age, how regular a woman’s periods are, frequency of sex and the amount of time you’ve been trying to conceive.

Myth 3: A woman’s fertility severely declines from age 35


A woman’s peak reproductive years are between the late teenage years and late 20’s. By age 30, fertility starts to decline. This decline becomes more rapid once you reach 35. While it is still possible for a woman to get pregnant in her 40’s, the chances are greatly reduced.

Myth 4: Having sex JUST during the 6-day fertile window greatly improves fertility


When trying for a baby, it’s important to have sex throughout the cycle to keep a man’s sperm healthy. Sperm can lose its motility and quality if it’s not ejaculated regularly.

Holding back until the fertile window may lead to stagnation and poorer quality sperm (due to DNA damage) that could be less efficient swimming up the uterus and down the Fallopian tubes to fertilise and egg. On the other hand, too much sex may cause potential problems too - having sex every 2-3 days throughout the cycle and every day during the fertile window is said to be optimal for fertility.

Myth 5: Holding your legs up after sex can help you get pregnant


Despite what you might think, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that holding your legs up in the air after sex helps you to get pregnant faster. Healthy sperm are incredibly good at swimming, they move quickly and can travel to the fallopian tubes in under 2 minutes, so raising your legs up 20 minutes after having sex won’t boost your conception chances.

Myth 6: If you have sex during your period you can’t get pregnant


It’s unlikely you’ll get pregnant, but not impossible! Due to the lifespan of sperm and if you have a short cycle, you may ovulate just after your period. So, you could be fertile just after your period.

Myth 7: Every woman ovulates on day 14


The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but every woman is different (as is the day a woman ovulates). A normal cycle is considered to be anywhere between 23-35 days in length, though the day a woman does ovulate may be different each month too.

Myth 8: Male fertility does not decline with age


Although a man’s sperm can regularly regenerate, a man’s sperm quality does start to decline after the age of 40, making it harder to conceive as men get older. Some studies suggest that older men are not only at risk for infertility, but they are more likely to pass on genetic problems to their children. Whilst men may not have a complete drop in fertility like women do, a man’s age does still matter when it comes to fertility.

Myth 9: Infertility or miscarriage is a woman’s problem


The causes of infertility are equally spaced among couples. Sperm quality can have a big impact on getting (and staying!) pregnant, and according to Tommy's - the presence of DNA damage in sperm can more than DOUBLE the risk of miscarriage. I’m a huge believer of the fact that supporting fertility is a two-way street (after all, 50% of the DNA that becomes a baby is from the male!) and sperm health is often overlooked when supporting couples on their fertility journey. For more info on male-factor infertility, click here.

Myth 10: Using lube affects your ability to get pregnant

- TRUE -

The sperm moves through cervical mucous in the vagina, through the uterus and Fallopian tubes to the egg. Some lubricants can limit the mobility of the sperm so if you feel as though you need to use a lubricant during sex, make sure you’re using a sperm-friendly one! My favourite brands include Conceive Plus and Pre-Seed.

Myth 11: Being on the pill can help to preserve your eggs


Many women believe they ‘save’ their eggs when they are on birth control such as the oral contraceptive pill because they don’t ovulate, but this is simply untrue. Women are born with a limited egg supply that progressively declines with age, even if you’re on the pill. Being on the pill also doesn’t delay menopause.

Myth 12: If you already have a child, you don’t have to worry about infertility


Even if a couple already has a child, they can still experience difficulty in getting pregnant later on in life. This is called secondary infertility and is typically diagnosed after trying unsuccessfully to conceive between 6 months – 1 year. A lot can change after having a baby and getting pregnant a second time can be more complicated as a couple gets older and secondary infertility can feel extremely isolating.

Myth 13: A positive LH strip/ovulation stick confirms healthy ovulation


While ovulation predicator kits (or OPK’s) can help determine your most fertile days by measuring the levels of luteinising hormone (LH) in your body, they aren’t 100% accurate and a positive result doesn’t always mean high fertility. OPK’s don’t confirm whether you’ve ovulated and high levels of LH can be seen in those women with PCOS, leading to ‘false’ positives.

I also speak to many women who become really stressed out when using OPK’s as it puts a lot of pressure on their relationship when trying for a baby. Bear in mind that there are lots of other ways to accurately predict ovulation such as observing your cervical mucus and testing progesterone and tracking your temperature to confirm if ovulation is happening on a regular basis.

Feeling overwhelmed with where you’re at with you fertility journey?

You are not alone.

Be sure to download my FREE fertility guide if you haven't already - you can do that here.

For more information or bespoke advice on how I can support you throughout your fertility journey, please feel free to get in touch or book a free 30 minute discovery call to see if I can help you.

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