At Santa Monica Fertility Clinic, we see thousands of patients each year who come in worried and stressed because parenthood hasn’t come as easily as they’d hoped. In the end, almost all of them achieve a healthy pregnancy and have a baby in their arms, thanks to the many fertility treatments that are available. However, during initial consultations, many of these prospective parents have added worry because family and friends have stressed them out with common infertility myths. “Every day, you’ve got to have sex morning and night,” your friend tells you, “and only have sex in the missionary position.” If you’re experiencing infertility issues, you’ve likely heard this kind of advice way more than you ever wanted to. Well, without further ado, we’d like you to toss the following worries aside.
Myth #1: You must have sex daily if you’re trying to get pregnant.
This is a common fertility myth, and every week we have patients who tearfully confess that due to work schedules, business travel, or stress, they only average four or five times a week. These couples feel worried that they’re not doing everything they should be doing (according to their mother-in-laws) to get pregnant. Luckily, we can reassure patients that every other day is right on target. Increasing your chances of conception with daily sex (or even twice-a-day sex, as some of our patients tried to achieve before visiting with Dr. Jain) is a fertility myth you can safely dismiss. It’s true that the egg is only viable for a short time (12-24 hours), but this doesn’t mean a woman must have daily intercourse to get pregnant. Sperm can live for up to five days inside a woman’s reproductive tract. So as long as you’re having regular intercourse with your partner every other day, or even every few days, your frequency is perfectly timed for conception to occur. If it’s more fun to go for it once a day, go ahead! Daily sex won’t decrease a man’s sperm count. Just don’t feel pressure or worry if you don’t have time every day.
Myth #2: If you and your partner “save up” for a few weeks, you’ll increase chances of conception.
This is another fertility myth that friends and family love passing around. It is based on research findings that a man’s sperm count may slightly raise after a 7 day window of not having sex. However, since a healthy man’s sperm count is already around 400 million, this will very rarely fix the problem and in almost all cases it will make it worse. Couples who follow this advice and “go off sex” for extended periods of time quite often miss a woman’s fertility window. They also induce stress and sexual frustration on one or both partners, which can harm the relationship. The best chances for most couples trying to get pregnant is to have regular, frequent intercourse several times a week.
Myth #3: Change positions during sex to get pregnant.
You’ve probably heard some version of this old wives’ tale before: that switching positions, or staying in a particular position during (or after) sex will help you get pregnant. There isn’t any reliable research to suggest that a particular position will increase or decrease your chances of conception. A man’s sperm will ejaculate in just a few seconds and immediately will swim through cervical mucus and into the fallopian tubes. The position you are in (whether you’re lying down, elevating your hips, or standing on your head) really doesn’t matter, in terms of conception, so have fun and do what feels best.
Myth #4: Infertility is usually due to the woman.
This myth perpetuates despite clear scientific evidence that infertility issues are equally caused by the male and female partner. 35% of the time it’s due to causes relating to the man, 35% with the woman, and 30% of the time it’s from a combination of factors or from unknown causes. As soon as a couple realizes that there’s a difficulty and a possible fertility issue, both partners should be checked out.
Myth #5: My weight won’t affect my fertility.
About 70% of couples seeking infertility treatment have lifestyle and/or weight issues that may be affecting their chances of conceiving. Being underweight or exercising excessively can interfere with fertility, and we see many female athletes and marathon runners at the clinic. A woman’s body stops ovulating when her BMI drops down to a level that is too low to support a pregnancy. Male athletes also experience fertility issues from excessive exercise, body building, or steroid use. If a man’s testosterone level is either too high or too low, it will have a negative impact on sperm count. If you’re an athlete, you may need to decrease exercise intensity while trying to get pregnant. If either partner is overweight, that also negatively impacts fertility since excess weight affects hormone levels. Losing just 5% of your body weight can improve your chances of conception.
Myth #6: There’s something wrong if I haven’t gotten pregnant within a few months.
If you’re really excited about having a baby, it’s easy to feel disappointment if you’re still not pregnant after 3 or 4 months of trying. However, if you’re young (under 35), give yourself up to a year to conceive. Most couples who have frequent, unprotected intercourse will get pregnant within 12 months. If you’ve reached this benchmark and haven’t conceived yet, or if you have concerns that something else is affecting your fertility, set up an appointment with Dr. Jain at Santa Monica Fertility Clinic. If one or both of you are over 35, however, it’s a good idea to visit your fertility specialist earlier (after just 6 months of trying to get pregnant).
Myth #7: Just wait and the baby will come.
For couples that have been trying to conceive (or keep a pregnancy going) for a year or more, it’s time to see a fertility specialist. Patiently waiting may not be the right answer. Many couples who are in their 30s wait to see a fertility specialist for years and then lessen their likelihood of a successful pregnancy, since fertility naturally decreases with age. Your most fertile years are in your 20s and early 30s, so if you’re past this stage, don’t wait indefinitely. The longer you wait to see a specialist, the more likely it is that you will need more involved procedures to bring your future baby into your family.
At Santa Monica Fertility Clinic, we help couples all over the world start on the journey to parenthood. Using the latest in technological advancements, we offer a full range of fertility services to patients in our offices in Hong Kong and Santa Monica, California. If you have a question about infertility, contact us and schedule a visit with Dr. John Jain, a celebrated, Board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and a pioneer in the field of reproductive medicine. Dr. Jain also offers phone consultations for international patients.