When it comes to fertility, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Meaning, there are many fertility myths to stop believing. After all, even though you may have been raised to believe that you can get pregnant by French kissing someone, it doesn't mean it's true. But, the more such falsehoods are deemed true, the more people are inclined to believe them.
Celmatix, the next-generation women's health company, recently found out Millennial women's attitudes towards fertility, family planning, and more among 1,000 surveyed. They discovered things like, more than 30 percent of women surveyed mistakenly believed hormonal birth control affects fertility. This is just further proof that when in doubt, go straight to the source: your medical practitioner.
"Research has shown that many factors, including the genetics she was born with, play a significant role in an individual woman's reproductive health and fertility," Piraye Yurttas Beim, PhD, CEO and Founder of Celmatix, tells Bustle. "A common misconception among women of all ages, Millennials included, is that age is the only factor that impacts your biological clock. It's definitely true that many women fall off a 'fertility cliff' in their mid-to-late thirties, but this is based on an average, which, by definition, means that many women fall on one side or another. That means that some women may need to worry about their fertility earlier in their life, and some women may have more time."
Below, you'll find common fertility myths, so you can rest assured they are just that — myths. As usual, as I mentioned above, if you have any medical questions, consult in your doctor before believing any alleged truths, aka myths.
Myth #1: You Cannot Have A Baby After The Age Of 35
I remember when a friend of mine got pregnant at the age of 35 and her OB/GYN kept saying she's of "advanced maternal age" — i.e., when the chance of pregnancy risk factors increases. She had gotten pregnant naturally, without In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and her doctor was already amazed by that, she said. My friend had a healthy baby, then another one at the age of 40, again no IVF. So, yes, it IS a myth that you cannot have a baby after the age of 35, especially with all the help you can get, such as IVF, if need be. However, of course, the risk factors of conceiving at and after the age of 35 are real, and it's also harder for many women to get pregnant then.
"Fertility declines progressively with age," Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women's health expert and author of she-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health, tells Bustle. "The aging of eggs is a well-known biological phenomenon and what is referred to as our 'biological clock.' As a woman gets closer to 40, the ticking becomes louder, and, by 45, it can be deafening. Fertility peaks between the ages of 20 to 24. After 35, your fertility declines, especially as you get closer to 40. Over 40, a woman will have a 50 percent miscarriage rate due to poor egg quality and quantity."
Myth #2: IVF Can Help Women In Their Late 40s And Early 50s Get Pregnant
You may often hear about the wonders of IVF, and how it helps women conceive who are having trouble doing so naturally. However, IVF is not a guaranteed way to have a baby. "Despite the number of celebrities seen having babies in their mid-40s and beyond, their in vitro fertilization processes may not necessarily have involved using their own eggs," Carolyn Givens, M.D., Pacific Fertility Center as part of the Prelude Fertility network, tells Bustle. "While we respect the privacy right that does not compel women to divulge this little detail, there is the perception left with the public that fertility treatments can extend one's reproductive life. Unfortunately, this simply is not true. There is a very, very low probability of improving one's success of conceiving after age 43 by using assisted reproduction, unless the woman considers using donor eggs."
Myth #3: You Are Less Fertile If You Have Been On The Pill
You may have friends or family members warn you about not taking the pill too long, because it may delay you getting pregnant once you're off of it, but, luckily, that's a myth. "The birth control pill gets a bad rap when it comes to fertility," Alyssa Dweck, M.D., gynecologist in New York, assistant clinical professor OB/GYN at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V, tells Bustle. "Women are afraid that when they come off the pill they'll have trouble getting pregnant, but that's not the case." However, age may be the actual reason conceiving is harder, not the pill.
"Their fertility is naturally declined already just because of age. [And problems like undiagnosed endometriosis] may be the very reasons they have fertility issues."
Myth #4: Certain Foods May Be The Reason You Cannot Get Pregnant
Although certain foods may help you get pregnant due to their natural nutrient values that may regulate your hormones, such as foods rich in healthy fats, like avocados and coconuts/coconut oil, there are not foods that will solely prevent you from getting pregnant. Yes, your doctor may suggest you reduce your intake of certain foods, like ones high in trans fats, aka things like margarine and shortening to French fries and donuts. In addition, some women who are infertile have consistently high blood sugar and insulin levels, many of whom have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a whole other issue altogether. However, women with PCOS can still have kids. As with any of these "myths," it's best to discuss them with your doctor.
Myth #5: If You Have Your Period, You Can't Get Pregnant
During your period, you may think it's a great time to have sex and not worry about getting pregnant, but this is false. According to the American Pregnancy Association, "The probability is that you would not get pregnant having sex during your period. More than likely, your ovulation is several days away, decreasing any chances of conceiving during this time." But, of course, there are exceptions. For instance, if you have a cycle less than 28 days, then there's a chance you could get pregnant while having sex during your period. So while it's not likely, it's still possible, so proceed with caution.
Myth #6: Lie With Your Legs In The Air After Sex To Increase Your Chances Of Conception
Yes, while some may think this getting-pregnant method works — after all, the sperm can then do directly to the egg, right? — it's an old wives' tale. So unless you do it just for the acrobatic aspect, you don't have to lie with your legs in the air, post-sex. The sperm already reached the egg — or not. Instead, just have more sex, and more often. "Pretty much any position can get you pregnant, so you might as well pick a position that gives you both the most pleasure," the WhatToExpect website states. And, as far as your fertility is concerned and having sex at times you're most fertile, using a period tracker can be a game-changer.
Myth #7: If You Are Trying To Conceive, Have Sex *Every Other Day* During Your Fertile Window
Instead of having sex every other day during your fertile window, more sex is recommended, according to Dr. Givens. "For most men, sperm recovery is very rapid," she says. “Sometimes when we do IVF, we ask for a second sample when there are a lot of eggs to fertilize. We are often amazed when the second sample, collected just two hours after the first sample, has even better numbers. So, rather than 'saving up good sperm' and having less frequent intercourse during the most fertile time period, we recommend more frequent intercourse. Of course, a home ovulation predictor kit is often useful to time sex to ovulation. In that case, we recommend sex on the first day of the Luteinising Hormone (LH) surge and the next day too."
Myth #8: Medications Cannot Affect Fertility
You may think a medication one of your doctors prescribed is no big deal, and will have no affect on your fertility. Or that an over-the-counter medication won't either. Wrong. Make sure to tell your OB/GYN any and all medications you're on, so they can figure out the next conceivable steps (no pun intended). "Because a woman's menstrual cycle is tightly controlled by the interaction between the brain, ovaries, and uterus, any health problem or medication that disrupts this communication could adversely affect ovulation and make it challenging for women to achieve a pregnancy," Alan Copperman, M.D., director of reproductive endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, told Parents. So, when in doubt, it's best to come clean about anything and everything you're taking, just in case.
Myth #9: Fertility Issues Are Only The Women's Responsibility
Conception issues are not just in women's hands — or reproductive systems, as the case may be. Though men do not have the same "advanced maternal age" situation that women do at 35 years old+, men can still have reproductive issues. For instance, the older they get, the higher the chances that they have a lower sperm count and/or lower testosterone levels.
As you can see, there are several fertility myths out there that you should stop believing. And if you know of even more that you're unsure about, just ask your OB/GYN so that you don't put your fertility at risk.