One of the great ironies in a woman’s life is that after spending most of our 20s trying not to get pregnant, we then wind up in our 30s or 40s desperately trying to do the opposite.
Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for awhile or just starting out, we’ve partnered with Australia’s number one fertility provider, Virtus Health, to debunk seven common fertility myths so you can get busy well, getting busy.
MYTH 1. Having sex on the day of ovulation increases the chances of conception
The timing of intercourse plays a critical role in conception, but having sex 24-48 hours before ovulation gives a woman the best chance of falling pregnant because it is at this time that she is at her most fertile.
As the egg needs to be fertilised within 12 hours after it’s been released, it’s best to have sex two to three days before you ovulate, so there’s sperm waiting to meet the egg.
MYTH 2. As long as you’re fit and healthy, you’ll be able to conceive naturally no matter your age
We’ve all seen the headlines of celebrities well into their 40s falling pregnant ‘naturally,’ but it’s a dangerous assumption to fall into as infertility doesn’t discriminate. Young and healthy people can still have issues affecting their fertility, and medical conditions and genetic disorders can also affect fertility, whatever your age.
The number one factor affecting a couple’s chances of conceiving is the woman’s age, as the number of healthy eggs your ovary contains will dramatically decline as you age – especially once you are over 35. Most couples consider seeking professional advice after 12 months of trying if they’re under 35, and after six months if they’re over 35 years.
MYTH 3. If my partner doesn’t ejaculate for a week, he’ll have more potent sperm
Abstinence makes the sperm grow fonder? Apparently not. As sperm are made in the testes and then stored in the epididymis, it’s here that they are exposed to temperature, free radicals, and toxins, so ideally the sperm should only spend 2-3 days here before ejaculation. The best quality sperm is produced by ejaculation every two to three days. A long interval results in the production of many damaged or dead sperm.
Sperm can survive in the womb and fallopian tubes for up to 3 days, which is why fertility specialists recommend having sex every couple of days within the woman’s fertile window to maximise your chance of falling pregnant.
MYTH 4. My fertility will have declined after being on the contraceptive Pill for close to a decade
It may take some time for your body to revert to its natural cycle if you have been using the oral contraceptive pill, IUDs or implants, but using contraception over any period of time does not cause infertility. Doctors recommend waiting for one cycle after you come off contraception, but it’s entirely possible to fall pregnant on your first cycle.
MYTH 5. You need to have sex every day during your fertile window
If falling pregnant isn’t happening as fast as you’d hoped, the overachiever in you could easily conclude that having sex every day will up your chances of conceiving. But the studies show that having sex every second or third day will give you the same fertility outcome as having sex every day. So the pressure’s off!
MYTH 6. Taking your temperature helps to work out when you ovulate
After ovulation the ovary produces progesterone, and this causes a degree rise in basal body temperature, on average 3-4 days following ovulation. Taking your temperature to determine when you ovulate will only be helpful if you use it to look back over the last few months to work out when the earliest and latest ovulations occurred. Experts recommend regular sex from 7 days before the earliest date of ovulation right through to the latest date of ovulation.
MYTH 7. Seeking help means expensive rounds of IVF
About 20% of couples will need some help to get pregnant, but many couples put off seeking professional help because of the assumption that it’s costly and the only option is IVF. There are many ways fertility specialists can assist in conceiving a baby, from ovulation cycle tracking to ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI) before looking at IVF.
If It Still Doesn’t Happen
If you have been trying to conceive for 12 months or more without success (or six months if you are over 35), it’s well worth consulting a fertility specialist. As members of Virtus Health, IVFAustralia, Melbourne IVF, Queensland Fertility Group and TasIVF create more babies than anyone else. With over 100 of the world’s leading fertility specialists, they help more than 5,000 couples and single women achieve their dreams of a family each year.
Read next: How to return to work after maternity leave (and stay sane)