Whether you are trying to conceive or just looking to learn more about the general topic of reproductive and sexual health, you have likely come across a vast number of tips and beliefs. But how much of it is based on credible facts? Here is the lowdown on some such myths about conception and female fertility.
1. Infertility is solely a female issue
One of the biggest and most popular infertility myths is that it is solely a female fertility issue. That is very much not true. In fact, according to an article in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, in cases of couples struggling to conceive, approximately 40 to 50 percent is due to “male factor” infertility.
2. People with PCOS cannot get pregnant
It is definitely possible to get pregnant if you have polycystic ovary syndrome. Dr. Priyanka Sinha, consultant gynaecologist at Apollo Multi-speciality Hospital, Kolkata, says, “Women with PCOS can conceive if they have a regular period.” There are also many ways to manage symptoms of PCOS and improve chances of pregnancy. “Sometimes, in PCOS, people with very irregular cycles have to be given specific medicines to improve fertility, including hormonal support to continue the pregnancy”, she elaborates. Things such as proper diet and exercise, as well as medication recommended by your doctor can help you along on your fertility journey if you have PCOS.
3. Conception is impossible during periods
The chances are lower, but it is not impossible to get pregnant from unprotected intercourse during your period, especially towards the end of your period. Dr. Sinha says, “Usually, the eggs survive for about 48 hours and the sperm survives 72 hours, so the timing for achieving pregnancy should coincide. Ovulation occurs 14 days prior to the next expected date of period, so usually, chances of pregnancy are less if intercourse happens during the first 3 days of the period, but there are no hard rules regarding this”. In people with shorter cycles or irregularities of menstrual cycle, especially, conception may happen from unprotected intercourse during periods.
4. The pull out method is a foolproof method of contraception
The pull out method is by no means foolproof, and it is one of the least effective contraceptive methods. Many factors can interfere with the execution and viability of the method, making it only about 78 percent effective on an average. It also does not protect against STIs.
5. People cannot have fertility issues if they already have a child
Even if you have had a child, it is not always true that your future fertility journey will go without a hitch. According to Dr. Sinha, “Fertility issues can happen even after having the first child due to a lot of factors.” Known as secondary infertility, the underlying causes can be similar to those of primary infertility, such as health issues, sperm quality, lifestyle factors, and age.
6. Day 14 of the menstrual cycle is always the best day to conceive
Everyone has different menstrual cycles, and it can even change from time to time for an individual themselves. People with a 28 day cycle generally ovulate around day 14, but that can differ according to the length of your cycle. Moreover, day 14 is not the only fertile day, as the window can range from day 9 to day 16 for someone with a 28 day cycle. It is therefore important to keep track of your ovulation if you are trying to conceive.
7. Elevating feet after sex increases the chance of conception
Says Dr. Sinha, “There is no evidence of improving conceiving by elevating legs.” This is a common tip that is offered to improve chances to conceive, and while there are no side effects to this, there is not enough concrete scientific evidence of its validity, either. A trial published in Human Reproduction showed that the rates of conception were comparable between participants who were immobilised in a supine position for 15 minutes after intrauterine insemination and those who moved immediately after (the rate was slightly higher for the latter group, in fact).