Women's Fertility: Myths & Misconceptions
Planning for a family can be one of the most exciting parts of life. One of the first priorities is to make sure you're fertile. With so much conflicting information available on the internet and in schools, it can be hard to know what's real and what's not.
Here are some myths and misconceptions to be aware of.
Myth: Birth control pills lower my fertility.
Reality: Non-barrier forms of birth control won't harm your chances of getting pregnant once you've stopped using them.
Some people believe the longer you take birth control pills, the less likely you are to conceive a child once you stop taking them. It's true that you may experience a delay in resuming normal ovulation once you stop using birth control, but your menstrual cycle should continue as normal, even if it takes a few months.
Some studies indicate prior use of birth control pills may increase your chances of getting pregnant within the first year of discontinuing use.
Myth: I'm most fertile on the 14th day of my cycle.
Reality: Women are most fertile in the three days leading up to, and the day of, ovulation. However, women experience different cycle lengths, meaning they can be at their most fertile anywhere between the 11th and 21st days of their unique cycle.
Pay attention to your body's signs of ovulation. For example, your body temperature may be a little higher than normal, and your cervical mucus is typically wetter, clearer and more slippery. Some women experience breast tenderness, stomach pain and bloating, but these aren't always an indication of ovulation.
Talk to your OB-GYN to determine which day you're most fertile.
Myth: Lying still after sex increases the likelihood of conception.
Reality: How you position yourself after sex won't increase or decrease your likelihood of conceiving.
Many believe lying flat on their back or in the fetal position will give sperm a better chance of reaching their egg. Conversely, they think when they stand up after sex, gravity causes the semen to leave their body, thus keeping it from the egg.
It's true that semen leaves your body once you stand, but any sperm that could result in fertilization has already traveled far enough on their journey to be unaffected when you stand.
Myth: The egg can be fertilized for two days after release.
Reality: The egg survives for 12 to 24 hours after its release and must be fertilized within that time frame to result in pregnancy.
To increase the chances of fertilization, have intercourse before you begin ovulating. If there is sperm already inside the fallopian tube when the egg is released, it can become fertilized immediately, meaning you don't have to worry about a restricted window.
Myth: Women over 40 can't get pregnant.
Reality: It's true women are most fertile when they're in their 20s, and fertility decreases starting in the late 20s. However, although the chances are low—around 5 percent—it's possible to get pregnant after age 40.