7 myths about fertility

Trying to get pregnant? With so much conflicting (and strange) advice floating around the Internet, here’s how to sort myth from reality when it comes to fertility

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pregnancy test

Myth #1: You can get pregnant any time during your cycle

Reality: Most women are fertile for a few days to a week in the middle of their cycle (around two weeks after the first day of their period). But Dr. Jeff Roberts, a gynecologist at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Vancouver, often sees patients “that try every day to get pregnant, thinking more sex is better when it’s actually a timing issue.” In fact, Dr. Roberts points out that for those trying to get pregnant, daily intercourse may actually decrease the amount the sperm (every other day around the fertile time is recommended). It is possible that a woman could ovulate during or within the days of her period if, for example, she has very short cycles or long periods, but this is very rare.

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legs up the wall yoga pose

Myth #2: Putting your legs up after sex increases your chance of conceiving

Reality: While many women who want to conceive a child may lift their legs in the air or against a wall to try to direct sperm towards their uterus, it’s an old wives’ tale. The stronger sperm will have no problem swimming up to your uterus, says Dr. Roberts.

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Myth #3: If you have trouble conceiving, you should do In-Vitro Fertilization

Reality: Though it may be covered in some provinces in certain situations, IVF is expensive and arduous, requiring many appointments and daily medications. Yet, thanks to celebrity IVF success stories, it’s often the first thing women ask their doctors for if they haven’t been able to get pregnant.

“Some patients come in and say ‘I need IVF,’ when in fact, there’s other things they could be doing,” explains Dr. Roberts, who notes that only a minority of patients with fertility challenges require IVF. Maybe the issue is timing. Maybe it’s a fibroid or growth in the uterus that could be removed with surgery. Women who aren’t getting pregnant as soon as they’d like can get tested and diagnosed at a fertility clinic. It’s recommended that women who have been trying for more than a year (if under 35) or six months (if 35 and over) visit their doctor to get a referral to a fertility expert.

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Myth #4: Missionary position is the best way to get pregnant

Reality: Though it’s a question modern science has tried to answer, there’s no evidence that any sex position has a better chance of increasing the odds of conception, according to Dr. Roberts. So those wanting to get pregnant can relax and enjoy sex as usual.

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Myth #5: Women who become pregnant should swear off caffeine

Reality: A positive pregnancy test need not mean you have to swear off your morning java.

“The studies overall would indicate that potentially more than three cups can increase the risk of miscarriage,” says Dr. Roberts.

To err on the side of safety, most doctors recommend pregnant women limit their intake to 200 mg of coffee a day, the equivalent of one to one-and-a-half cups of coffee.

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weight stomach fat

Myth #6: Your weight doesn’t affect your fertility

Reality: Being overweight or underweight can be an obstacle for those trying to conceive. Studies show it’s not just a woman’s weight that matters. Excess weight in men may also affect sperm count, according to a Harvard study.

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Myth #7: Miscarriages can be prevented

Reality: Women are often too quick to blame themselves for miscarriage, thinking their exercise or stress levels were the reason, for example. But the truth is, miscarriage is simply a fluke in the overwhelming majority of cases. Miscarriage happens because the embryo’s cells are initially dividing so quickly and, to put it in layman’s terms, a copying mistake is made. Miscarriage is also quite common, affecting 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies. That’s why it’s recommended pregnant women wait to break the news to their entire social network until after the first trimester.

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