If you've ever wondered if reducing your stress levels might help you conceive, or if having heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will be born with a lot of hair, then you're well aware there are literally hundreds of old wives' tales about pregnancy floating around out there.
Some of them aren't true at all, so it's always a good idea to listen to your doctor when it comes to getting pregnant, and what to do while preparing to have a baby. But there may be a reason other old time-y health myths stick around.
"I personally believe these pregnancy myths stick around because there are times when these myths ring true," Dr. Diana Ramos, OB/GYN and co-chair of the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative (PCHHC), tells Bustle. "Myths that are, in fact, just myths, sometimes stick around because we tend to try and make sense of things ... [when] we have very little control." Which is why some of them that seem too good to be true usually are.
But other myths end up being backed by research, or shown to have some positive benefit in a clinical setting. Here, a few common health myths about getting pregnant that experts say may actually have some truth to them, according to experts.
Having An Orgasm May Help
If a woman has an orgasm during sex it's thought that it may help propel sperm in the right direction, "up and through tiny fallopian tubes" and into the uterus to aid in conception, Burris says.
So yes, apart from obviously making sex more enjoyable for both partners, having an orgasm can also help you conceive. "Most men have enough semen and healthy motility (movement) of their sperm," Burris says. "But the muscular contraction involved in [the female's] orgasm helps the swimmers get where they need to be and fast."
Reducing Stress Can Aid In Conception
That's why stress reduction techniques are often recommended when someone is having a hard time getting pregnant. "You've heard it over and over again, 'don't stress and you'll get pregnant,'" Burris says. "Some proven ways to reduce stress include: meditation, mindful yoga, and acupuncture."
Herbal Medicine May Come In Handy
There are a quite a few old wives' tales touting the benefits of certain herbal remedies to aid in conception. And while it's always important to ask a doctor before trying them, they may help.
As Burris says, "a study out of Adelaide University in Australia proved that Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine, when prescribed by a master herbalist and acupuncturist, [showed that] women are twice as likely to get pregnant and in one third of the time compared to conventional treatment using IVF (in-vitro fertilization)."
Acupuncture Is Worth A Try
There may be some truth to the old acupuncture claim, as well. "We've had hundreds of babies born in our practice, even when IVF (in-vitro fertilization) has been attempted and failed multiple times," Burris says.
And it makes sense why it may help. "Acupuncture has been proven to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, calm the nervous system, and help regulate the hypothalamic pituitary ovarian axis which is critical for ovulation and fertility," Burris says. "It also improves male factor infertility with poor sperm counts (the number of sperm), motility (the movement), and morphology (the shape of sperm)."
Soaking In A Hot Tub Can Make It Difficult To Conceive
If a couple is having trouble conceiving, it's often suggested that the man stay the heck out of hot tubs. And for good reason. "Male factors are an often overlooked part of a couple's fertility success," Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, owner of Nutrition Now, tells Bustle. "Things like hot tub and sauna use have been shown to be associated with high testicular temperature, which can impair spermatogenesis (sperm production and development)." So it may help to avoid soaking in super hot water, till after you conceive.
Wearing Tight Underwear Can Lower Sperm Count
For similar reasons, there's an old wives' tale that suggests men avoid wearing tight underwear. As Manaker says, "The same concept goes for wearing briefs versus boxers when choosing underwear. Briefs may keep the testicles close to the body, and the body heat may lead to higher testicular temperature."
This cause and effect was even shown in a study, that revealed "wearing tight fitting undertrousers was associated with higher scrotal and testicular temperatures than wearing loose fitting undertrousers or none," Manaker says.
If you're wondering if certain old wives' tales about pregnancy are true, don't be afraid to ask your doctor. They obviously know what's up, and can help you figure out the best ways to get pregnant, what to do if you can't get pregnant, and what is and isn't healthy during pregnancy.