In the age of “doctor google,” it’s often difficult to separate the facts from fiction. For anyone trying to conceive without success, it’s even trickier to navigate those half-facts and partial truths. Misinformation regarding fertility is everywhere on social media, in magazines, and may even come from your well-intentioned friends and family.
There are far too many misconceptions about conception out there. Some are pretty far-fetched, and some may contain a grain of truth. When you question your fertility, you are at a vulnerable place, and some of these non-facts may undermine your confidence. Here we try to clear up the common misconceptions and myths with fertility facts.
Just The Fertility Facts
Does your period predict your fertility? Are sperm harmed by a laptop? Do men also have a biological clock? These are some of the common questions couples ask about fertility. If the information you’ve read or heard confuses you and your partner, don’t worry. Here is your list of fertility facts to end the confusion surrounding common myths and misinformation.
The Length of Time You’re on The Pill Does Not Impact Fertility
One common misconception is that those women who’ve used hormonal birth control such as the pill, IUD, or patch for years suffer from infertility. This is not true.
The fact is no matter how long you’ve been using hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy it will not impact fertility, barring any other complications, once you stop. Normal ovulation returns when you stop your birth control or within a few months thereafter. If you have intercourse for 12 consecutive months after stopping birth control and have not conceived (six months if you are over 35), you should consult your physician.
A Regular Menstrual Cycle Does Not Indicate Fertility
While an irregular period may point to fertility issues, a regular cycle doesn’t guarantee fertility. A regular period (every 23-35 days) is a fairly good indication that you are ovulating normally. However, ovulation isn’t always the issue behind compromised fertility. There are many different factors involved in conception and pregnancy. Blocked fallopian tubes, uterine abnormalities and male factor infertility may prevent pregnancy even though you are ovulating normally.
Additionally, regular bleeding doesn’t always indicate normal ovulation. Sometimes cycles seem regular even though ovulation doesn’t occur (anovulatory cycles). Some of the causes of vaginal bleeding without ovulation are:
- A very thick lining of the uterus – common in those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Cervical lesions
A Prior Successful Pregnancy Doesn’t Ensure Subsequent Pregnancy
One surprising fertility fact? Couples who conceived with no trouble the first time, had a healthy and uneventful pregnancy and delivery, yet they are not experiencing success the next time around are diagnosed with secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is not uncommon and there are many potential reasons behind secondary infertility. These include:
- Medications, especially those that raise prolactin hormone levels such as prochlorperazine, haloperidol, chlorpromazine, risperidone, metoclopramide, methyldopa, cimetidine, and older antidepressants like amitriptyline, SSRI antidepressants like sertraline or fluoxetine, and many others. Immunosuppressants used to treat autoimmune disease. Antirheumatic drugs like methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine may affect the ovaries.
- Fallopian tube damage
- Scarring from a previous pregnancy
Just as with other instances of infertility, you’ll need a fertility assessment, and then you and your physician can determine the right treatment to improve your fertility.
The Fertilization Window Closes 24 Hours After Ovulation
A common myth that stems from a little bit of truth is that conception can occur up to two days after intercourse. Although sperm survives for up to five days in a woman’s uterus, fertilization must take place 12-24 hours after ovulation. In order for conception to occur, the sperm must fertilize the egg within that 12-24 hour window.
Frequent Intercourse During Your Fertile Days Improves Your Chances for Conception
For couples who have sex every day or every other day during your peak fertile period are more likely to conceive. However, more than once a day may deplete sperm, so go easy. A good plan is to engage in sex every other day or every three days during your fertile period.
Not sure when you’re most fertile? Here are some indicators:
- The length of your period. In an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation typically occurs about 12-16 days before the start of the next period.
- Cervical mucus is more clear, wetter, and more slippery around the time of ovulation.
- You experience a spike in your body temperature right after ovulation occurs. Take your temperature daily from the onset of your period to get a baseline reading. Watch for spikes in your body temperature, and when it rises you know you’re fertile.
- If you purchase an OTC Ovulation predictor kit, you may identify your fertile period based on hormonal changes. An ovulation predictor uses your urine to detect hormonal changes, much like a pregnancy test.
For those who suspect an ovulatory issue is preventing them from becoming pregnant, your physician can confirm any issues through fertility testing.
Your Partner’s Choice of Underwear Does Not Affect Sperm Count
Boxers or briefs? It’s up to him, but either way, it doesn’t affect sperm count. Some things that may impact male fertility and the production of healthy sperm are factors that cause an overheating of the pelvic region. Spending too much time in a hot tub or sauna or wearing tight spandex compression (bike) shorts may cause sperm production to go down. Extra tight “tighty whiteys” may impact sperm production ever so slightly.
A recent study published by the National Library of Medicine reviewed the underwear choices of 500 men and found the impact of underwear choice doesn’t adversely affect semen and sperm production enough to consider it a cause of male factor infertility.
A Surprising Fertility Fact: Laptops Can Impair Sperm Production
When your partner uses a laptop on their lap for any length of time, it will impact sperm production. The longer a laptop is in use, the hotter it becomes. When the laptop is on the lap the heat is concentrated on a vital area. Use a lap desk or tabletop when using your laptop and keep your sperm in tip-top shape.
Men Also Have a Biological Clock
It’s a widely accepted fertility fact that women see a decline in their reproductive abilities beginning around age 35. But a Rutgers University study that took place over a 40-year period shows that men might hear the ticking of their fertility timepiece as well.
The study concurs that the majority of men, beginning around age 45, see a decline in fertility due to the degradation of sperm and semen. And much like with older mothers, should pregnancy occur, the risk for miscarriage and congenital disabilities jumps as well. Men nearing the age of 45 should schedule a fertility assessment. Reproductive Health & Wellness offers an initial fertility assessment in our office.
Your Source for Fertility Solutions
If you’re confused by the misconceptions surrounding conception and want more fertility facts, contact Reproductive Health & Wellness Center. With the most up-to-date fertility solutions and a compassionate team of reproductive professionals, our focus is helping you achieve your goal of a happy, healthy pregnancy. Reach out to Reproductive Health & Wellness today and let us give you the fertility facts you need.
At Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, we are experts at treating fertility issues. We provide the latest in cutting-edge embryo science by using the latest technologies, and we create innovative fertility plans tailored specifically to each individual. But we’re so much more.