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10 Misconceptions About Trying To Conceive—Debunked

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy


Trying to conceive? Whether you’re new to the process, or a seasoned vet, it can be tough to sift through the plethora of information out there in order to find what’s true, and what fares more on the side of urban legend. We’ve tapped Mary Jane Minkin, MD, who’s board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology (and also teaches in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale!) to break down ten common misconceptions about TTC below.

Myth: You should lie down for a while after sex to maximize the chance that the sperm will make its way up inside the uterus.
MJM: “Not really. Those little guys are pretty fast, so if you are lying down for even 10 minutes, the most active ones will be moving very quickly towards their target.”

Myth: You should have sex a lot, several times a day-around ovulation, to maximize your chances of pregnancy.
MJM: “No. Having sex every day or every other day around ovulation is fine. You don’t want to have sex too often because it will diminish the sperm concentration. Finding out when you ovulate can be very helpful, particularly if you’re not that sexually active regularly. A product like First Response Ovulation Predictor Kit can help you really pinpoint ovulation to maximize your chances of conception with timing.”

Myth: Having sex is always great—there are no stresses associated with trying to conceive.
MJM: “Sex is terrific, but unfortunately putting constraints on activity can take away some of the fun. Women can experience vaginal dryness, and not all lubricants are sperm friendly, so if you do experience dryness and need lubrication, pick up a product called Pre-Seed, which is balanced to be sperm-friendly.”

Myth: Most couples conceive the first cycle they try.
MJM: “The number is really closer to 20%. Within six months of trying, 50% of couples will be pregnant-by one year, and 80% will conceive.”

Myth: No need to take any medications pre-conception for healthy folks.
MJM: “All women trying to conceive should be taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. It significantly reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the child.”

Myth: As long as a woman is breastfeeding, she cannot get pregnant.
MJM: “Not true. Some women conceive immediately, even if they are nursing. Breastfeeding does diminish fertility a bit, but should not be used as a contraceptive.”

Myth: If you have been on birth control pills, you cannot conceive the first month you go off the pill.
MJM: “Although there may be some slight diminution in fertility the first month off the pill, I have seen many women conceive the first cycle off, so don’t stop birth control pills if you really don’t want to get pregnant immediately, that is if you won’t be using another form of contraception.”

Myth: Once a woman starts having irregular periods and as she heads into menopause, she cannot conceive.
MJM: “Not until you go a full year without a period should a perimenopausal woman consider herself unable to get pregnant. I personally have delivered three 47-year-olds who thought they were just perimenopausal, and not pregnant!”

Myth: Should a woman who is going to an environment that is known to have cases of the Zika virus try to get pregnant?
MJM: “No. You should talk about Zika infections with your Ob/Gyn care provider. When traveling to Puerto Rico and other cities that are considered to be in a “Zika zone”, we do not recommend that women conceive within 2 months of traveling. And, we do not recommend that a man who has been in a Zika zone to think about conception within six months of travel.”

Myth: Lifestyle interventions don’t affect fertility.
MJM: “One of the most important factors in conceiving is weight. Your greatest chance of getting pregnant is at your ideal body weight. Women who are significantly underweight and overweight have more difficulty ovulating well, so try to aim towards being as close to your ideal body weight as possible.”

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