Fertility myths and legends are many and as you can guess, there will be a lot of babies born near Christmas and after Valentine’s Day “celebrations.” However, for couples trying to conceive, a forced schedule for relations can take away some of the fun and even magic that might otherwise be present. There are several fertility myths that when debunked, can help make things more normal.
What are some of the most common fertility myths?
Fertility Myth #1: Frequency and Scheduling
You must have relations every day for peak fertility (myth). Sperm live 72 hours, so roughly if a couple has relations twice a week in the week or two around the middle of the cycle (if regular), that can go a long way.
Fertility Myth #2: Lubricants
Lubricants can make sperm more slippery and help them get where they need to be (myth). Most lubricants kill sperm, so make sure to get a “sperm-friendly” lubricant if using them.
Fertility Myth #3: Frequency During the Days of Ovulation
You must have relations as many times as possible on the day of ovulation (myth). Having seen couples where both were sore to the point of barely being able to walk when acting on this myth, it is not necessary. Insemination often can double or triple pregnancy rates when increasing sperm counts fiftyfold. If it takes a fifty-fold increase to slightly increase chances an extra round or two on a day doesn’t seem to help much. (The contrary argument is “It can’t hurt,” and if both of you are in the mood, go for it!)
Fertility Myth #4: The Shettles Method for Preferred Gender
Sex at almost the exact time of ovulation favors a boy, while 2 ½-3 days before favors a girl (the Shettles method- myth). A landmark paper in the New England Journal of Medicine did not show a clear benefit, so the timing you choose relative to ovulation most likely makes chances of a boy or girl 50/50.
Fertility Myth #5: Foods and Medications for Increased Fertility
Eating pineapple, taking Geritol, or drinking Robitussin can help fertility (myth). Though a lot of people have had a drink or two leading to conception, beyond creating opportunity more than one alcoholic drink a day can lower pregnancy rates.
Similarly, many of the diets or supplements that many say led to their having a child were a coincidence, where they would have been pregnant without taking them.
Studies have dismissed pineapple, Geritol, and Robitussin helping. In fact, taking Robitussin-D can dry out cervical mucus, making it harder to conceive. Some also worry about the caffeine in chocolate having a negative effect. Pregnancy rates are lower with over 200 mg of caffeine a day which is 20 oz home-brewed coffee, but there is only 5 mg of caffeine per ounce of chocolate. If you are eating over three pounds of chocolate per day, caffeine associated subfertility may not be your most important health issue.
In short, if wanting to conceive, have fun but there is not that much you can do to control it. (It is hard to make it better or worse on your own.)
If the stress of subfertility starts becoming too much or you want to be more assertive about becoming a parent, just let us know. There are lots of things we can do for testing and treatment to help you on your journey.
If you are wanting to build your family, we would love to help you. From simple explanations to high tech solutions, or simply a fresh perspective if what you’ve been doing on your own or with a doctor hasn’t worked, come see us in our Monroe, Shreveport, Madison, Starkville, or Hattiesburg MS offices.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and we at Positive Steps Fertility hope 2021 is your most successful year yet!
Call us at 833-767-7837 and let’s help you have the child of your dreams!
John Preston “Pres” Parry, MD, MPH