When you’re ready to have a baby, it’s as easy as getting busy without any protection. Right? Wrong. Of course, there are women who get pregnant as soon as they’re ready to be a mom, but the shocking truth is, it’s actually harder to put a bun in your oven than you might think. Here, we separate conception truths from complete misconceptions and old wives tales, so read on for more surprising facts.
Myth: Taking birth control for many years makes it hard to conceive.
“This question comes up a lot, especially now when it is not uncommon for a woman to be on the pill for several years before trying to conceive,” says Jaime M, Knopman, MD, assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City. “Overall studies have not demonstrated that long term oral contraceptive use has a detrimental effect on future fertility.”
She adds: “Most women will see a return of normal ovulatory cycles within three months of discontinuing the pill. However for a subset of women it can take upwards of a year before their period returns normally. During this time she may not be ovulating regularly and therefore would have difficulty conceiving on her own [without medical help].”
Truth: You’re more likely to get pregnant within the first few months of trying.
That’s right, says Dr. Knopman, adding that the chance of getting pregnant is about 20 percent during this time (with age varying this number), and by a year, the likelihood of conceiving decreases to about three percent. She adds: “It is important to note that even in the most fertile couples, with carefully timed intercourse [they don’t have more than a 35 percent chance of getting pregnant].”
Myth: The ingredient guaifenesin in cough medicine can improve fertility.
“People think that it can help thin the cervical mucus,” explains Dr. Knopman. “You take it normally to thin out mucus in the lungs to help with cough, so the thought is that it would thin cervical mucus.” But she cautions: “I would not recommend it, because any medication in excessive amounts is not advisable,” adding that “its effectiveness has never been proven in studies.”
Truth: Lubricants or saliva kill sperm.
Turns out that some slippery assistance in the bedroom won’t help move your man’s swimmers along. “Certain lubricants are toxic to sperm and can decrease fertility rates,” says Dr. Knopman. So while you’re avoiding the lube, also skip using saliva to moisten your area down there. It’s toxic to sperm, too, she says!
Myth: Green tea helps increase fertility.
“It has not been proven that green tea can increase a woman’s fertility,” says Dr. Knopman. And because green tea often contains caffeine, she explains, you don’t want to have too much on a daily basis. What is important to try to conceive is to adopt an overall healthy lifestyle, she advises, so eat better, sleep better, and exercise to improve fertility.
Truth: Loose boxers help increase sperm.
If you man likes his tighty whities, he’ll need to trade those briefs in for boxers. Why? That tight-fitting underwear can warm up his jewels, and “heat can be damaging to sperm,” says Dr. Knopman.
Myth: Have sex every day to get pregnant.
“Having intercourse around the time of ovulation (which is for most people between days 11 to 15) increases the chance of pregnancy,” says Dr. Knopman. “Sperm lives inside the female reproductive tract for approximately 72 hours, and therefore intercourse daily is not needed.” Plus, having sex more often may reduce the number of swimmers your partner can produce.
Truth: Stress negatively affects fertility for men and women.
Although it’s scientifically unclear how stress impacts fertility, “research has shown that excessive stress can be detrimental,” says Dr. Knopman.
Myth: Certain sexual positions increase the ability to conceive.
Enjoy yourself and bend and twist your way into any move you like that gives you the most pleasure, because all sexual positions are equally suited for baby making, and there is no scientific proof that one move is more efficient for conception than another.
Truth: Fertility declines with age.
Fertility peaks between ages 20 and 24, decreasing slightly until age 32, and then more significantly after that, says Dr. Knopman. “Additionally the incidence of miscarriage increases significantly with increasing female age, thereby not only making getting pregnant but staying pregnant more difficult.”