Perhaps you have a friend who swore to you that she got pregnant by having sex in the missionary position and then holding her legs up in the air for 20 minutes. She probably meant well, but that’s not proven advice, especially when it comes to infertility.
There’s nothing new about fertility myths. They’ve been around for thousands of years, as ancient fertility dolls attest.
But these myths aren’t funny for couples who are trying to get pregnant. We work with several patients who have difficulty getting pregnant, and they’re not alone.
Did you know that one in eight couples will have difficulty conceiving? According to the Cleveland Clinic, 25 percent of these couples have more than one factor that is contributing to their infertility.
We’ve decided to put on our mythbuster hats to shed some light on these common myths.
Common misconceptions about getting pregnant
CERTAIN SEXUAL POSITIONS WILL HELP YOU GET PREGNANT
Don’t download the Kama Sutra just yet. Different positions can spice up your sex life, but there is no singular one that will make you more fertile. What matters more is that he’s able to ejaculate. Having sex often does increase your odds of getting pregnant, and bringing more excitement to the bedroom can encourage a more active sex life. It’s this—not the position itself—that can help you.
IF YOU LIFT YOUR FEET IN THE AIR AFTER SEX, YOU’LL INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING PREGNANT
The “logic” here is that women don’t want any of the ejaculate to “fall out,” ensuring that each swimmer has as much help as possible. In actuality, sperm are programmed to know where to go and can find their own way. Lying with your hips elevated makes no difference.
YOU NEED TO BE SURE TO ORGASM DURING SEX
We support a great sex life, and while orgasms are fantastic, they don’t have an effect on whether or not you’ll get pregnant. Often, fertility problems are caused by things such as ovulation dysfunction, blocked tubes or low sperm counts, which have nothing to do with orgasms.
I HAVE A REGULAR PERIOD, SO I SHOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE GETTING PREGNANT
A regular period is a sign of a healthy ovarian cycle, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get pregnant easily. While your ovaries may be functioning normally, infertility can be caused by a variety of factors such as fibroids, sexually transmitted infections or physical problems with the structure of the uterus.
EXERCISE WILL HELP YOU GET PREGNANT.
First, we’re big fans of exercise. That’s a no-brainer. It’s one of the best things you can do for your body. There are tons of benefits that we won’t go into here, but suffice it to say we support any safe exercise regimen you’re on.
THAT BEING SAID, EXERCISE DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE IT EASIER TO GET PREGNANT.
It does help you lose weight, and those who are obese are at a higher risk of not ovulating. On the opposite extreme, women who are marathon runners or participate in other extreme exercises may also have irregular periods. So while exercise does help you have a healthier body, there’s no automatic guarantee that more exercise will solve your fertility problems.
YOU JUST NEED TO RELAX MORE AND YOU’LL GET PREGNANT
This is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone who is trying to get pregnant. Infertility is not a psychological issue, it’s a physical issue. In many cases, women and men may have more than one physiological issue that is making it hard to get pregnant.
Granted, extreme stress can affect the regularity of your period, which of course, can make conception more challenging. However, there is simply no medical evidence that stress is the cause of infertility.
We believe relaxation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle—after all, everyone needs a vacation—but chilling out doesn’t automatically make it easier for you to get pregnant.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TAKING THE PILL, (OR OTHER BIRTH CONTROL METHODS) FOR A LONG TIME MEANS YOU’LL HAVE TROUBLE GETTING PREGNANT
This is one of the most common misconceptions we hear in our office, and honestly, we’re not sure where it came from. Sometimes, after stopping a method of birth control, you may have an irregular period. This irregular period is due to a delay in ovulation, not necessarily a fertility issue.
After a year without birth control, 70 percent to 90 percent of couples who want to conceive do get pregnant. Many couples will conceive immediately upon stopping the pill.
Don’t fall for these fallacies
We’ve helped thousands of couples who are facing the challenges of infertility. As women’s health professionals, we believe it important to separate fact from fiction when you decide to become pregnant. Our advice? Enjoy the process. If, after a year of trying (6 months if over 35 years old), you haven’t succeeded, then make an appointment to see us.
Kamm McKenzie OBGYN offers a full range of women’s healthcare services for women of all ages. Since 1976, we have been caring for women by providing general and specialized gynecologic and obstetric care. We have two Raleigh locations to serve you: one on Computer Drive and one on Durant Road.
Originally written and published by Dr. Bernstien in April of 2012
Goldberg, Jeffrey, MD. “Overcoming Infertility.” The Cleveland Clinic. Online. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/transcripts/6944_overcoming-infertility-getting-answers-about-causes-treatments-and-what-to-do-next
Parents Magazine. “7 Myths About Infertility.” Online. https://www.parents.com/getting-pregnant/infertility/causes/myths-about-infertility/