By: Jessica Moncivais | Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Patti Haebe, NMD
When are women most fertile? How long do sperm live? Answering questions like these, we find there is widespread misinformation about fertility everywhere. Having a fertility calculator or ovulation tracker like Premom can be helpful and knowing more scientific-based knowledge is essential. From what we hear and read on social media about TTC chances or a healthy sperm count, to discussions amongst family or friends, rumors can spread easily. This can be discouraging to some women who may think their chances of pregnancy have lessened, or feeling like knowing how to avoid pregnancy naturally is impossible.
Well, you will be quite surprised to find out that some of these myths may not always be true. As well-versed as we all may believe we are when it comes to our reproductive health, there is a good chance there are one or two things we didn’t even know! To help you get the most accurate information about your chances of pregnancy, we asked Mikayla Dalton, Fertility Awareness Method Educator to help debunk some of those stubborn fertility myths for us.
Myth 1: There's a 80% chance of conceiving each cycle when you're trying to conceive.
False: If you happen to have sex on your most fertile day of the cycle or have sex one time -- and it's on your very most fertile day (ovulation day) -- the chance of pregnancy from that one act of intercourse on your very most fertile day is around 25% depending on your age... If you are just having sex casually through a cycle, that percentage can be even lower than 25% can be true. The five days leading up to ovulation day, your chances of pregnancy gradually increase from 5%- 15% statistically up to that 25 or 30%.
Myth 2: You should wait at least one year while trying to conceive before seeking medical help.
Truth: Most doctors will say six months if you've been trying with no success over the age of 35 and 12 months if under the age of 35. If you're looking at being at an advanced maternal age, they'll suggest earlier intervention because there's a bit more of a time crunch going on. If you can confirm ovulation, that's ideal and likely don’t need to seek care as urgently. About 90% of couples will conceive that way within a year of fertility charting. However, if you are not ovulating or have concerns, feel free to start a discussion with your doctor sooner rather than later or book a virtual consultation through your app with one of our Premom experts.
Myth 3: If you are using fertility charting and are trying to AVOID pregnancy, keep in mind you are only considered potentially fertile during the six days of your fertile window.
Truth: If a lot of women used fertility charting successfully to try to conceive, they are more open to using it to try to avoid pregnancy as well. Your main goal is to identify that fertile window where the woman's body is hospitable to sperm around ovulation and to avoid intercourse during those most fertile days. Your fertile window is technically about six days, but when you're trying to avoid pregnancy, it's a whole different mindset and different approach than with fertility charting. You want to identify those most fertile days and be careful on those days because you’re not wanting to make a baby right then. Even with our best at home technologies like the hormone tests, you end up charting more potentially fertile days than when trying to conceive because with variations in the cycle day you may ovulate, you don’t want to catch any days in the beginning edge of your fertile window.
Myth 4: Elevating your legs after sex helps conception.
False: We have no good evidence that sperm need the extra help of us to help them against gravity. Sperm are microscopic. They swim very fast for their size. They are typically deposited right up near the cervix and are made to swim. Having sex changes the PH of the vaginal canal to make it more conducive to sperm for a little while. If you're in the fertile phase, your own vaginal environment will change to become more hospitable to sperm. Women have this fertile cervical fluid that is good for the sperm to swim in; it is protective and nutritive to it. There's really nothing that a position can do to add to that.
Myth 5: How about hot tubs and tight shorts for men? Are they a problem for fertility?
True: This is true because the sperm live in an environment that is very well-regulated temperature wise, so they do much better in a cooler temperature range. Very hot environments can make it more difficult for the sperm to be healthy, and for a man to have a healthy level of sperm that are behaving at the optimal kind of measurement. So tight pants, hot tubs, putting your laptop on your lap, or being a serious cyclist can increase the temperature of the testes. All those things can impair sperm health.
It's a real wild west out there when it comes to fertility and the Internet. Lots of people will say things that aren't scientifically backed up and no real study behind the myths, which can be very misleading. You want to maintain skepticism, find some trusted sources, and do your research when coming across new information. It's hard navigating the fertility world, but you don’t have to go through it alone. We also offer Virtual Consultation services directly through the Premom app. If you would like to book a consultation with one of our fertility specialists, they can review your cycle data and offer additional personalized support. You can find additional information regarding these services through the "More" tab in the Premom app.
To download the free Premom Ovulation Tracker app, click here.