10 Fertility Myths Couples Need to Stop Believing

Sep 2021 Fertility

Contributed by: Dr Lim Min Yu

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Experiencing fertility problems can be a distressing and stressful experience for any couple. The last thing you need is to comb through sketchy blogs and figure out what is fact or fiction. That is why together with Dr Lim Min Yu, an accredited IVF clinician from Astra Women’s & Fertility Specialists, we have compiled some of the most common myths about female and male fertility. We hope to debunk them for good and allay any fears these myths might have caused you or your spouse.

Myth 1: I can’t get pregnant during my period.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Your chances of conceiving are the highest when you have sexual intercourse before and during ovulation but you can still fall pregnant during your period. This is because sperm can survive in the uterus for up to 5 days. Hence, if you have sex near the end of your period, there is a possibility that the sperm can fertilise an egg after it is released during ovulation. Overall, this is a rare occurrence and it is more likely to occur for ladies who have a shorter menstruation cycle.

Myth 2: Being on the pill harms my ability to conceive later.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

There is no scientific proof to show that taking oral contraceptives has harmful long-term effects on fertility. If you are having issues falling pregnant, it is most likely due to other causes.

It is important to note that if you stop using birth control to prepare for pregnancy, then you should monitor your menstrual cycle closely. If your cycles do not become regular in 3-4 months after stopping your birth control, you should see your gynae to investigate this further as being on the pill can mask signs of conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Myth 3: If I undergo IVF treatment and multiple eggs are collected, menopause will happen sooner for me.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

A lady undergoes menopause when she has no more eggs left in her ovaries. During the IVF process, only eggs that are released during that specific month are collected. Therefore, the onset of menopause is not accelerated.

As stated earlier, a lady is born with all the eggs she will ever produce and they are stored in her ovaries. Each month, a small group of eggs are “awakened” or activated. Out of this small group, typically there is only one egg that is released from the ovary. The rest of the eggs in the small group do not fully develop and die within a few weeks. Some ladies tend to have more eggs or follicles while others have less.

When a lady undergoes IVF treatment, the hormone medication she takes is only able to stimulate the group of eggs that have been activated for that month. These are the eggs that are going to be “gone” by the end of the month no matter what happens.

Every month, a lady will lose a certain number of eggs even if they are not collected and the next month, a new group of eggs are “awakened”.

Myth 4: I already have a child so I will not have fertility issues.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Your fertility will decline with age and often, other factors might also affect it. Therefore, by the time you are ready to conceive again, your fertility might have undergone some changes.

The medical term for ladies who struggle to become pregnant after having a child is ‘secondary infertility’. These are some common causes of secondary infertility: 

  • Age
  • Complications from the previous pregnancy
  • Weight gain
  • Your partner (and his age) 

For ladies who are younger than 35 years old, I would recommend trying to conceive for one year before seeing a specialist, and for ladies who are 35 years and older, to try for six months before seeking help.

Myth 5: My mum had an easy time getting pregnant so I will too.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Every lady is different! However, there are some medical conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) which if inherited, can impact fertility.

Myth 6: Wearing briefs can hurt my fertility.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

No research indicates that briefs (or any other underwear) have an impact on fertility. The temperature in the scrotum is usually a bit cooler than normal body temperature. Higher temperatures can affect male fertility. Some research states that briefs cause a higher temperature in the scrotum but no research states that this in turn, affects fertility. 

If you are trying for a baby, it is generally recommended that you avoid high-temperature places like saunas and hot tubs, as they can affect sperm production and fertility­.

Myth 7: Taking steroids to improve physique won’t affect my fertility.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Steroids are illegal and not only do they reduce sperm count, they also reduce the size of your testicles. 

There are some men out there who go to the gym often and are tempted to take anabolic steroids, as they promote the rapid growth of muscles. However, you should steer clear of these illegal drugs. Some men who take steroids sometimes struggle with getting an erection. In more serious circumstances, these changes may be irreversible.

Myth 8: Lifting my legs in the air for 20 minutes after having sex will help me get pregnant.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

There is no proof doing this will improve your chances of getting pregnant. 

Theoretically, this may seem like a good idea. By lifting your legs, your pelvis is elevated, therefore allowing the sperm to find the egg quicker. But all this will do is make your legs numb. 

There is no harm in slightly raising your pelvis by placing a pillow under your hips, you do not need to lift any other body parts in the air.  Likewise, doing handstands is not necessary.

Myth 9: Having sex in the missionary position is the only way to get pregnant.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Sex can be fun even if you are trying to conceive. If there is penetration (the deeper, the better) and as long as your partner ejaculates in you, the position you have sex in does not matter. Remember to have some fun and try out new positions!

If you do require additional lubrication, it would be good to ensure that the brand is safe for couples trying to conceive. There are even brands of lubricant that are specially formulated for couples trying for a baby.

Myth 10: I need to have sex 2-3 times per day when I am ovulating to get pregnant.

What Dr Lim Min Yu Says:

Having such frequent sex would reduce the sperm count for subsequent ejaculations. 

Most couples would find it quite exhausting to have sex so frequently day after day! Furthermore, after you have sex, there is a time where it is impossible to have another orgasm and ejaculate again. This is known as the refractory period. The refractory period varies widely between each guy and can last anywhere from minutes to days. If a man is having such frequent ejaculations, it would lead to a significant reduction in sperm count during subsequent ejaculations. Hence, instead of having sex 2 to 3 times per week (remember it is not per day!) when a couple is trying to conceive is sufficient. 

Conclusion

While there are many misconceptions out there, we hope to have put your mind at ease regarding any concerns they might have caused you. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are struggling with infertility, you probably have many questions of your own and maybe even a few misconceptions. Schedule an appointment with our fertility specialists for peace of mind during your fertility journey.

Came across a myth that is not on this list? You can check out Dr Lim’s other article which covers ten more myths you might have heard of.   

 

About the Author
This article is written by Dr Lim Min Yu. Dr Lim is an accredited IVF clinician and a fertility specialist with over 10 years of experience in IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. He is also an O&G specialist and the medical director of Astra Women’s & Fertility Specialists located in Gleneagles Medical Centre. Dr Lim strongly believes in working together with his patients to customise a treatment plan that is aligned with his patients’ needs and to help couples achieve their pregnancy goals.

 

Dr Lim’s Place of Practice