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Separating Fact from Fiction: Debunking Some Common Fertility Myths

Are you on the journey towards parenthood and finding yourself overwhelmed with all the conflicting information out there online? Fertility is a topic often covered in myths and misconceptions because it can be complex, but this leaves many individuals confused, anxious and unsure on what is actual fact or fiction. As a women's health and fertility educator, it's my mission to empower you with accurate knowledge to navigate this fertility journey with confidence and clarity. So, let's get into it and debunk some common fertility myths together!

Myth 1: "You Can Get Pregnant Every Day of Your Menstrual Cycle"

It's a common misconception that you can become pregnant every day of your menstrual cycle. We do grow up not being thoroughly informed about this, and are made to believe that any sexual interaction could result in a pregnancy.

However, the truth is that there is only a 5-6 day fertile window where conception is possible. Sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to five days in optimal conditions. In addition, the egg remains fertilisable for about 12-24 hours after ovulation. Both these time frames gives you the miraculous 6 day fertile window where conception in possible. Understanding and identifying this window can significantly increase your chances of conception or help you modify your sexual behaviour if you want to avoid a pregnancy.

Myth 2: "Having Sex Every Day Increases Fertility"

While it's natural to assume that frequent intercourse would boost fertility, the reality is, it's actually more complex. Engaging in intercourse every day may actually decrease sperm count and quality due to not having enough time for sperm to replenish within the testes. Instead, it's recommend to have intercourse every 1-2 days during the fertile window to optimise the semen sample. The same goes for thoughts around "saving up sperm" and not ejaculating frequently to try and increase sperm numbers. This actually does the opposite. You want frequent ejaculation to help clear out dead or abnormal sperm and keep the semen sample healthy.

Myth 3: "Infertility is Always a Woman's Problem"

Infertility is a shared concern that impacts millions of people worldwide, yet there's a persistent belief that it solely stems from women.

In reality, male factor infertility contributes to approximately 40-50% of all infertility cases. Issues such as low sperm count (total number of sperm), poor sperm motility (movement), and abnormal sperm morphology (how they look, they could have 2 heads, two tails etc) can significantly impact fertility. Therefore, both partners should undergo preconception screening when you start your fertility journey and planning to grow or expand your family or if you are experiencing issues becoming pregnant, to identify any potential problems and explore appropriate treatment options together.

Myth 4: "A Healthy Lifestyle Doesn't Impact Fertility"

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn't just beneficial for overall well-being; it also plays a crucial role in fertility. Factors such as diet, exercise, stress, sleep and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can significantly impact reproductive health. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provides essential nutrients vital for reproductive function. Regular movement also helps promote a healthy weight and improves circulation, which is beneficial for both male and female fertility. So what you do matters, and making small changes can go a long way in helping your fertility and reproductive health.

Myth 5: "Age Doesn't Matter When It Comes to Fertility"

While modern medicine has made significant progress in fertility treatments, with more success being seen in treatment such as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), age still remains a critical factor in fertility and chances of achieving a pregnancy. Women are born with all the eggs they will have in their lifetime, and their quality declines with age. This decline in fertility becomes more pronounced as women approach their late 30s and early 40s, making conception more challenging. Men also experience age-related declines in sperm quality and quantity, although at a slower rate and at an older age, more so after 40. Understanding the impact of age on fertility can help you make informed decisions about family planning timelines, eg. how many children you want, when you want to start trying to start a family and how long you should wait in between children. This could all be impacted on age and important to keep in mind on your fertility journey.

Myth 6: "You Should Wait for a Year Before Seeking Fertility Help"

There's a common misconception that infertility should only be addressed after unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a year. While this guideline applies to couples under 35, those over 35 should seek a fertility assessment after six months of trying unsuccessfully due to age-related declines in fertility. Additionally, if you suspect something may be wrong, notice issues or changes such as irregular menstrual cycles or have a history of reproductive disorders, you should seek help earlier. Early intervention can identify underlying issues and allow for timely treatment, improving the chances of successful conception.

Debunking these fertility myths is just the beginning of understanding the complex factors influencing reproductive health. Remember, knowledge is power, and seeking guidance from a team of qualified healthcare professionals (like myself) can provide valuable support along the way. Let's navigate this journey together, armed with accurate information and empower you to make informed decisions and take proactive steps towards achieving your fertility goals.

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  1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2014). Age and fertility: A guide for patients.

  2. Buck Louis, G. M., et al. (2011). Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility, 95(7), 2184-2189.

  3. Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Diagnostic evaluation of the infertile male: a committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility, 98(2), 294-301.



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