There are more myths about conception than most people realize. Some believe having sex at certain times, in special positions, or while adhering to certain lifestyle restrictions will increase their odds of success. In some cases, however, these methods may do just the opposite. Baby Med notes that 70 percent of couples who try to conceive will succeed within six months’ time. While there are certainly many interventions that can boost the chances of pregnancy, here are some myths that people often believe about conception:
- It can only happen during intercourse
- Specific positions will do the trick
- Lube helps sperm swim and is sperm-friendly
- Cough syrup can help you get pregnant
- Men can have children no matter how old they are
- Getting pregnant after age 35 is nearly impossible
- Daily sex is your best bet
- Time of day impacts conception
- Ovulation day is the most important time to have sex
- Wardrobe woes aren’t legitimate
- Stress doesn’t matter
- You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding
Table of Contents
When Conception Occurs
The most prominent myth surrounding conception is how soon it happens. The point of conception occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg. As soon as this occurs, the egg is sealed off from being accessed by other sperm. The fertilized egg then waits for implantation, at which point the body starts to produce HCG and pregnancy can be officially diagnosed.
Many people wrongly believe conception can only take place during sex, but that isn’t exactly true. Conception can only occur when a woman is fertile. This period lasts for around five days each menstrual cycle. It begins roughly three days before the date of ovulation and continues into the day after such. During ovulation, an egg is released and will only survive for around 24 hours.
Sperm can survive as long as five days inside the woman’s body at a controlled temperature, per WebMD. Once an egg is fertilized and forms an embryo, it must still implant into the uterine lining, which can take several more days.
It’s All in the Position
Many couples spend months or even years trying to get pregnant. Over time as patience runs thin, many find themselves looking for any measures they can take to boost their odds of success. A lot of people believe complicated positions during or after sex might boost their efforts to have a baby. Some women think laying down and elevating their hips or even standing upside down propped against a wall can help the sperm travel to the egg, but this isn’t really true. The sperm doesn’t need any help at all. They travel roughly 8 inches every hour, according to the Huffington Post.
Speaking of Sperm…
A surge of estrogen just prior to ovulation cause the woman’s body to produce copious amounts of cervical mucus that is similar to egg white in consistency, and this mucus actually helps carry the sperm through the cervix and to the egg.
Although lubricants are often touted as being perfectly safe while conceiving, hopeful couples must bear in mind that these companies are in the game to make money, not babies. Many lubricants actually hinder conception and can make it more difficult for the sperm to get where it needs to go, if they don’t alter or kill the sperm altogether. With the exception of specific lubes made for conceiving, like Pre-Seed, they should be avoided.
Women often use of cough syrups that contain guaifenesin. This active ingredient is used in decongestants to loosen mucus in the nasal passages, which clogs the head and commonly causes sinus pain. In theory, the same decongestant must also loosen mucus in the cervix and vagina. Even if this worked for some women, the chemical properties of the mucus may not be sperm-friendly or help carry the sperm to the uterus. There is no scientific evidence to back up these claims, and in some cases, reactions to cough syrups — like fatigue and an upset stomach — could put a pox on conception plans at bedtime.
Maternal and Paternal Age
Age is just a number, but when it comes to getting pregnant, it does weigh heavily on women’s minds. This is because the ripe age of 35 is often touted as the end of fertility. Pregnancy is harder to come by at this age, but it still happens and isn’t any kind of indication of infertility. Parents Magazine states women have a 15 to 20 percent chance of conception each month and a 78 percent chance of conceiving within a year at the age of 35.
When it comes to men, their fertility also declines with age — it just does so at a slower rate. WebMD reports males undergoing infertility treatments with their partners were studied and showed an 11 percent decrease in fertility every year. Nonetheless, while some men father children well into their seventies, plenty have difficulty doing such even past 40.
Timing Is Everything
Having sex every day seems like the best way to cover all your bases when trying to conceive, but it can actually deplete sperm count. For the highest chances of success, couples should have sex every other day throughout the suspected fertile period. Another common myth regarding conception is that ovulation day is the best time to try. It’s actually more effective to shoot for the day before and after. The time of day doesn’t matter at all, nor does it impact gender the way some sources claim it does.
Stress is actually one of the biggest factors that impacts fertility. U.S. News reported on the results of a study of alpha-amylase — a chemical produced as a reaction to stress — in women who are trying to conceive and noted the women with the highest levels were 12 percent less likely to become pregnant than those with the lowest levels.
Breastfeeding and Conception
Breastfeeding is not a foolproof form of contraception and should never be relied upon as such. Likewise, it’s not a permanent hindrance on conceiving. If you’re nursing your little one and already desiring another, it is possible. In some cases, menstrual cycles return even when women are exclusively breastfeeding. In other cases, cycles may stay away, but there’s no predicting when they will return, though it is most likely after you start weaning your child.
The first three months postpartum, it’s very unlikely that pregnancy will occur, but the risk rises with time to 2 percent between three and six months and 6 percent between six and 12 months, according to the La Leche League. Breastfeeding mothers should pay close attention to their cervical mucus and other signs of ovulation and have sex frequently in order to try to catch that first month they return to fertility post-birth.
Old wives’ tales have a way of sticking around generation after generation. While some of them may have had a shred of truth to them when their theories began, they rarely have any science to back them up. Over time, many theories are misinterpreted and may be passed on to the next crop of moms-to-be incorrectly. None of these issues will impact your chances of conceiving. In fact, following them may do more harm than good in some cases. Having sex at the appropriate times should lead to a successful pregnancy for the majority of couples who actively try.