While our knowledge of the human reproductive system and medicine is always improving, there are a number of myths and old wives’ tales that persist. Some of these can now be seen as amusing, but others can seriously harm fertility rates and your chance of conception. Paying attention to the facts, not the myth, can ensure that you have the best chance of conceiving or successfully completing your fertility treatment.
Fiction: Female fertility declines from the age of 35
Fact: Female peak fertility is between the ages of 22 and 26
This can be surprising news, but the latest research shows that female fertility begins to decline from the age of 27. While the majority of 30 year olds will conceive within a year, it’s important to remember that fertility rates do peak during the 20s and conception and pregnancy will be consistently more difficult from that age.
Fiction: Lubricants don’t prevent pregnancy, only contraception does
Fact: Lubricants often contain spermicide, can slow down sperm or even damage the DNA
While frequent sex can increase your need for additional lubrication, many popular lubricants prevent sperm from reaching the uterus or even damage the sperm. Water-based lubricants such as KY Jelly and Durex Touch can slow sperm down almost entirely and prevent pregnancy.
Fiction: It just takes time
Fact: Infertility is a medical issue and requires treatment
This advice can actually be quite damaging the causes of infertility can gradually get worse if left untreated, so if you are having some difficulty conceiving it’s best to see a specialist sooner rather than later.
Fiction: Only high BMI affects fertility
Fact: Being underweight is just as harmful to fertility as being overweight
Having too little body fat can stop ovulation and menstruation completely, so a healthy bodyweight and body fat ratio is incredibly important to fertility. Studies have shown that 2 obese partners are 3 times more likely to have to wait a year or more to conceive than partners with normal BMIs. Likewise, women with a BMI of 17.5 or less are 5 times more likely to be infertile.
Fiction: You need to have sex every day during ovulation
Fact: Ejaculating frequently can actually drive down sperm count
Sperm can live for up to 7 days inside a woman’s body, so you’re not going to ‘miss the window’ by not having sex every day. If you have sex every other day around the time of ovulation (up to a week before) it will give sperm time to replenish and give you the best chance of fertilisation.
Fiction: If you’ve been treated for an STI, it won’t affect fertility
Fact: Chlamydia can leave scarring in the fallopian tubes even if it was treated
While the scarring would not get progressively worse, a Chlamydia infection can cause permanent fertility problems even if it’s been treated. It’s important to disclose your full sexual history during a consultation so that specialists can make an accurate diagnosis and provide the right treatment for you.