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Conception Myths

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Tuesday, March 04, 2008 | 0 comments

It's time to debunk some fertility myths
Let's face it, myths abound when it comes to fertility and conception. Some myths may be harmless, but others may actually work against you as you try to conceive. It helps to be knowledgeable. So let's start to shed some light on some common misconceptions.

Myth: It's easy to get pregnant.
For many people, it's not easy. Yet, friends and family often still put undue pressure on couples with the "what's wrong with you?" syndrome.

Myth: Having sex every day will increase our chances of conceiving.
The truth is that timing sex during the most fertile days of a woman's monthly cycle will increase your chances — not how many times you have sex. Generally, the best time to try to conceive is during the 11 - 17th days of a woman's menstrual cycle based on a 28-day cycle. Since a man's sperm can live for 48 - 72 hours in a woman's reproductive tract, intercourse every other day during this period is recommended. A study found no difference in pregnancy rates between couples that had sex daily and those who had sex every other day.[1]

Myth: A woman's menstrual cycle begins when she starts spotting.
Close, but wrong. If you're trying to time intercourse, it's critical to identify the first day of your reproductive cycle. Start counting on the first day of normal bleeding or full flow, not when spotting begins. Being off by just a day or two can make a big difference.

Myth: A woman can't get pregnant if she doesn't have an orgasm.
Getting pregnant has nothing to do with a woman having an orgasm. Conception occurs when a man's sperm fertilizes a woman's egg.

Myth: I can wait until I'm 40 to conceive. Everyone's doing it.
When you choose to start a family is up to you. But as you make your decision, you should be aware of some basic fertility facts. A man's fertility drops after age 35.[2] A healthy woman at age thirty has about a 20% chance per month of conceiving. By the time she reaches forty, her chances drop to about 5% per month.[3]

Getting pregnant — at any age — is not an automatic. And as you get older, it may become increasingly difficult to conceive - despite all the stories you've heard in the media. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after regular, unprotected intercourse after 12 months (or 6 months if a woman is over 35). It's important to talk to a healthcare provider whenever you're concerned about your ability to conceive. Some people talk with their Primary Care Physician, others with an OB/GYN, and some go directly to a Fertility Specialist, also called a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Find a Fertility Specialist, Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), in your area.

Myth: We've already had one child, so conceiving again will be easy.
Perhaps, but it's no guarantee. Many Americans experience secondary infertility, or difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent child. This problem is often caused by age-related factors.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
If you're wondering if something else is fact or fiction, talk to your healthcare provider.

Looking for definitions for fertility terms? Visit our Glossary.

* American Society for Reproductive Medicine

[1] Wilcox, AJ et al. The time of the "fertile window" in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a perspective study. British Medical Journal 2000 November 18;321 (5):1259-62.

[2] American Fertility Association. Protect Your Fertility: Know the Facts.

[3] American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Age and Fertility: A Guide for Patients. 2003


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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