Do men's briefs really interfere with a man’s sperm count? Can watching a sexy movie truly make it easier to conceive?
If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, chances are someone — your mom, your best friend, the internet — has shared some out-there fertility theories meant to help.
But before you shrug these off as crazy fertility myths, gather all the info first. Some old wives’ tales may turn out to be valid after all. Get the real truth ... and then get busy between the sheets!
Being on the pill for too long will delay pregnancy
This is a myth. If you’ve spent years of your life trying not to get pregnant, it’s only natural to wonder if it will take a while to get things back on track.
In good news, it won’t. For some women, fertility returns as soon as they stop using the pill, but for others, it may take a month or so to resume ovulation — as long as there are no other issues going on, of course.
Boxers are better than briefs when you're trying to conceive
This is a myth. When your partner gets overheated — whether he’s in a hot tub, in a sauna, exercising in spandex bike shorts or wearing tighty-whities — his sperm production could go down. That said, though, in most cases, it’s not enough to make a big difference.
In fact, a study of nearly 500 male partners found that the impact underwear choice has on semen isn’t enough to affect fertility for most men. If you’re still concerned, it can't hurt to ask your partner to switch to boxers.
Laptops can impair sperm production
This is a fact. The heat is on when you use a laptop on your lap, and heat is not a friend of male fertility. To keep the family jewels in top family-generating shape, treat a laptop like a desktop.Continue Reading Below
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And believe it or not, the same may hold true for cellphones, so keep them out of his pocket too.
Watching a sexy movie can help you get pregnant
This is a fact. Studies have shown that watching a romantic movie together can increase levels of progesterone, a sex hormone thought to increase romantic behavior. And it doesn't have to be X-rated either, so grab some popcorn — and then each other.
If you want to get pregnant, order up some oysters
This is a fact. Yum! Believe it or not, this cliché holds up under scientific scrutiny. Oysters are the food chain's most concentrated source of zinc, which some research suggests may help increase sperm production. It's also a libido booster — and you'll both need libido to spare when you're trying to conceive. The benefits extend to both sexes, so enjoy a dozen together tonight.
The more sex you have during your fertile days, the more likely you are to conceive
This is true. Yep, the more often you have sex during your peak fertile days, the more likely you are to conceive. In fact, couples who have regular sex, which means every day or every other day, enjoy the highest pregnancy rates.
But if committing to this many bedroom sessions isn’t possible, or doing it this much doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, have sex every two to three days a week starting soon after your period ends.
For men with a normal sperm count, however, having sex more than once a day means that subsequent sessions will offer up fewer sperm. So give yourselves a breather!
After an egg is released, it can be fertilized for up to two days
This is a myth. While sperm can hang out and wait for their date for three days or more, an egg has only a 12- to 24-hour shelf life. So sperm have to catch it while they can. Timing is just about everything when it comes to fertility, which is why knowing the signs of ovulation (and pinpointing when you're ovulating) is so key to conception success.
This is a myth, for the most part. Healthy sperm are excellent swimmers — and determined on their mission. Pretty much any position can get you pregnant, so you might as well pick a position you both like. If you want to add a little extra gravity into the equation, give sperm a head start by elevating your hips slightly and asking your partner to be on top.
Saliva is the most fertility-friendly lubricant to use when you’re trying to conceive
This is a myth. You’d think that all bodily fluids would just get along — but no, not so. Saliva is a sperm killer. In fact, the truth is that most lubricants and massage oils are fertility-unfriendly — so best to go without when you’re trying to make a baby, or choose a fertility-friendly lubricant like canola oil or one containing hydroxyethylcellulose.
You need to have an orgasm
This is a myth. While having an orgasm can never be a bad thing, a woman does not need the big O to conceive. But we won’t tell if this is one secret you decide to keep to yourself!
The average couple conceives within three months of trying
This is a myth. Conception doesn’t typically happen overnight — even after a really hot night. Egg and sperm may meet up on your first try, of course, but it can take the average couple who doesn’t have any fertility issues up to 12 months of active efforts before your conception mission is accomplished.
Specialists define infertility as trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 12 months for women under 35 and for six months in women over 35 if there are no other obvious issues (like very irregular cycles, for example). Use that as a guide for when to see the doctor.
The longer it takes you to get pregnant, the more likely you are to conceive a boy
This is a fact. Women who take longer to conceive may be more likely to have thicker cervical mucus, which puts Y-chromosome sperm at an advantage.
Why? Researchers don’t know for sure yet, but they do have their theories. The most popular one: The sperm that makes boys contains less DNA, which lightens it up and enables it to more quickly swim in viscous liquids.
You’re more likely to experience fertility challenges if you’re a first-timer
This is a myth. Secondary infertility — when a couple has trouble conceiving after they’ve already had one or more babies — is about as common as primary infertility, when first-timers have trouble. In fact, 60 percent of all cases of infertility are experienced by couples who have already filled their nest at least once.
Men don’t have a biological clock
This is a myth. It’s a clock with a much longer-lasting battery, but it’s still ticking away. While guys can produce viable sperm — and father babies — well into their AARP years, older men are more likely to have fertility issues due to dipping testosterone levels, the decrease in quantity and quality of sperm, sperm’s diminished strength and motility, and other factors.
Hopeful moms need to switch to sparkling water, but dads can keep their cocktails
This is a fact and a myth. Too much alcohol can definitely mess with a woman’s cycle, so it’s best to start cutting back on alcohol or cutting it out once you’re actively trying — especially because you won’t know immediately when baby’s on board. But dads don’t get a free drink pass. Too much alcohol can not only bring down the curtain on performance, but it can also lower testosterone, impairing sperm production.
You can wait until you’re pregnant before you start cutting back on those lattes
This is a myth. Too much caffeine isn’t just a pregnancy no-no. It can be a fertility buster too. Heavy caffeine consumption is linked to fertility issues, as well as to early miscarriage.
So decaffeinate your diet and stick to no more than 200 mg a day — the equivalent of 12 ounces of brewed coffee or 2 shots of espresso — while you’re trying to conceive. Good news: You won’t have to cut back more once you’re expecting. The pregnant set is allowed the same amount daily.
It’s best to take a home pregnancy test first thing in the morning
This is a fact. The longer you’ve gone between pees, the more concentrated your urine, which means the more likely it is that early levels of pregnancy hormone will show up in it and you’ll get the positive pregnancy test you’re hoping for.
Fertility declines after 35 — and the later teens are the most fertile ages of all
This is a fact. Actually two facts. Getting pregnant does start to get a bit harder by around age 30, and the chance of getting pregnant drops for women in their mid-30s and beyond.
When it comes to a woman’s peak conception years, that window is open from her late teens through the 20s.
You can’t get pregnant when you have your period
This is a myth. As crazy as it sounds, you might actually conceive when you have your period. Because of the way a woman’s cycle fluctuates, the day ovulation starts can change from month to month, which means you can’t count on all the sperm from period sex being dead and gone by the time you ovulate next.
Stress doesn't affect your ability to get pregnant
This is a myth. While the connection between stress and conception is still being explored, there’s some evidence that highly stressed women may have more trouble getting pregnant. And while it’s unclear how stress impacts fertility, experts do agree that reducing stress levels can help overall when you’re faced with the challenge of baby-making.
To reduce your anxiety, consider a few yoga poses, some deep breathing, venting to friends or eliminating the biggest stressors in your life. The result just might be a more chill (and pregnant) you.