15 Myths About Getting Pregnant (Debunked Guide)
Myths about getting pregnant can be found everywhere, from old wives tales to get pregnant to tips on when, where, and how to have sex. Whether you’ve been told to have sex every other day to conceive or some version of elevating your hips to get pregnant, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. In this guide, we’ve debunked 15 popular myths about getting pregnant and even given you some tips for how to avoid falling for any in the future.
15 myths about getting pregnant
Myth 1: Women can’t get pregnant on their periods
The chances of getting pregnant on your period may be extremely low, but they are not zero. Every individual situation is different but several factors are at play in determining your chances. The length of your cycle, the timing of ovulation, and when you have sex are key factors that could play a role in getting pregnant on your period.
Myth 2: An egg can be fertilized for up to 2 days after its release
Once a mature egg has been released and is available for fertilization, it has a shelf life. In fact, that egg only has 12-24 hours to be fertilized before it will begin to disintegrate. Once the egg starts to disintegrate it is shed alongside your uterine lining during your menstrual periods. Depending on the environment, sperm can live in the female body for up to 5 days, but that lifespan is heavily influenced by other factors, like the quality of your cervical mucus.
Myth 3: Ovulation occurs on day 14 of your cycle
The assumption that you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle is a myth based on averages. Ovulation typically occurs midway through each cycle, but every woman and every cycle is unique. Only about 30% of women ovulate during this time and there are a broad range of days your fertile window can occur during your menstrual cycle. Tracking your cycle and understanding the signs of ovulation can help you predict ovulation.
Myth 4: You need to have sex daily to get pregnant
Having sex daily may be enjoyable, but it doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of getting pregnant. In order to get pregnant, an egg needs to be fertilized by sperm and the best chance of this happening is during your fertile window, around the time of ovulation when you are at peak fertility. Timing is important, but only with the right information about your fertile window. In fact, many couples find daily sex is tiring and emotionally draining when trying to conceive.
Myth 5: The position of sex affects conception
There is no concrete research that establishes one specific position as the “best” one for getting pregnant. The simple answer is that the best sex position for pregnancy is the one that works best for you. Certain positions that maximize both depth and gravity may be recommended since some health professionals believe it can help give the ejaculated sperm easier access to the cervix, but there is no right or wrong position.
Myth 6: Elevating your hips after sex helps you get pregnant
This myth has been around in various forms for centuries but the truth of the matter is that sperm have their own motility that is unaffected by the position of your hips. Sperm doesn’t rely on gravity to get where it needs to go so elevating your hips will have little effect on getting pregnant.
Myth 7: Average couples conceive after 3 months of trying
The time it takes for a couple to conceive depends on many factors including age, environment, and other lifestyle factors that can impact fertility. Studies have found that most couples conceive within 1-2 years, but even that is highly subjective to individual factors. Timing, age, lifestyle, and stress can all contribute to your fertility level. If you have been unsuccessful after a year of trying (if you are under 35, and six months if you are over the age of 35), it may be time to see your doctor or healthcare provider.
Myth 8: Smoking doesn’t affect a woman’s chance for conceiving
Smoking isn’t just a bad habit, it can also have serious impacts on your fertility. It interferes with ovulation and affects the quality of your eggs, but more importantly, women who smoke find it harder to conceive than those who don’t. In fact, the more you smoke the higher your risk of fertility problems in both men and women.
Myth 9: You can’t get pregnant after 40
This myth can easily be debunked by the millions of women who have indeed gotten pregnant after the age of 40. The chances may be lower since fertility naturally decreases with age, but getting pregnant in your 40s is absolutely possible. By age 40, your chances of naturally getting pregnant each month are less than 5% (compared to 25% in your 20s) but it is still possible.
Myth 10: Drugs don’t affect your cycle
Whether prescribed or not, drugs can cause a number of issues, including hormone dysregulation, that can affect your cycle and ability to get pregnant. Unbalanced hormones can wreak havoc on your system and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Those with hormonal imbalances often experience cycle irregularity, making ovulation harder to predict and a pregnancy difficult to plan.
Myth 11: Birth control can cause infertility
Extensive research in this area has shown that birth control does not cause infertility. Birth control is designed to prevent pregnancy by delaying your fertility, but that fertility returns once you stop taking it. It may take your body some time to adjust and for your fertility to return, but once the hormones have left your system you are good to go.
Myth 12: You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding
While it’s true that many women experience a period of delayed fertility while nursing, as long as you are ovulating you can get pregnant. Breastfeeding as a means of birth control (also known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method) is temporary and only works if you follow a strict set of rules regarding breastfeeding.
Myth 13: You can increase your chances to have a boy/girl
Theories and anecdotal evidence abound for gender selection, but the truth of the matter is that there isn’t much you can do to increase your chances of having a boy or a girl. There are high tech solutions, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, but these are used in conjunction with other assistive reproductive technology and many fertility clinics discourage this unless there is a medical reason to do so.
Myth 14: You can take a pregnancy test as soon as you have sex
Even if the sperm had already reached the egg and fertilized it, the fertilized egg will not produce the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) until it is fully implanted in the uterine wall. Implantation typically takes place between 6 to 12 days after ovulation. At this point, the pregnancy hormone hCG begins to rise and can be detected in blood after 3-4 days but takes longer to build up to a detectable level in urine. Waiting until the first day of your expected period, or at least 12 days past ovulation (DPO) is the recommended time to take a pregnancy test.
Myth 15: Having an orgasm can help increase chance of conception
When it comes to conception, female orgasm is optional. Ejaculation is needed on the man’s part, but female orgasm is not a requirement of conceiving. This myth centers around the idea that an orgasm may help “suck up” the sperm, but the science doesn’t support it.
Tips on avoiding myths when TTC
When you’re searching for information, it can be easy to fall prey to dubious claims and myths that fit our narrative. Confirmation bias is part of the human condition, but when it comes to fertility we have some tips for avoiding the myths on your road to a successful pregnancy.
Do your own research
Regardless of your goals, understanding your fertility can help you feel both empowered and in control while you’re trying to conceive and for your long term health. Getting to know your cycle to help you understand your fertile window and when you ovulate is one way you can do your own research. This valuable information can help you plan for a pregnancy and navigate a smoother fertility journey.
Stick to reputable sources
When you’re anxious for any bit of good news, it can be tempting to trust sources and opinions you wouldn’t normally give much weight to. Science popularization and the internet means there’s no lack of disinformation out there and it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. This McGill University article has tips for non-experts on identifying and figuring out the relevance of scientific evidence to help you evaluate your sources.
Talk to people you trust
Even the most well-meaning friend or relative can offer advice that may not or may not be helpful to you while trying to conceive. Fertility can be a tricky topic so find people that you trust to share your journey. Whether that’s a trusted professional like your doctor or another person you trust, talking to people you trust can help you gain a deeper understanding of your fertility and reduce stress while you are trying to conceive.