Preconception – Trying to Conceive – 10 Myths
There was a time when I used to think I could get pregnant anytime I didn’t use birth control. I remember my high school sex-ed class:
“You can get pregnant the very first time you have sex.”
“You can never be too careful – the first time you decide not to use contraception could be the time you get pregnant.”
After a lot of “anti-pregnancy conditioning,” I slowly started to see my body as an extremely fertile entity that had to be monitored and kept in check. Sometimes, I felt as if breathing wrong would get me pregnant. Of course, all of this was before I actually tried to conceive.
Healthy couples only have a one in four chance of conceiving in any given cycle.
Trying for a baby after believing that your body is bursting with fertility can be frustrating. In fact, many of us tend to believe certain “rules” that may not have even been taught to us; we just assumed they were true. Here are some myths that can often cause panic and confusion for couples who are trying to conceive.
- Myth 1: I will get pregnant as soon as we stop using birth control. It can be awfully confusing to stop using birth control and find your periods coming month after month. But, for the majority of couples, conception does not take place the first month they try to conceive. In fact, healthy couples only have a one in four chance of conceiving in any given cycle.
- Myth 2: I never used a hormonal birth control method, so we should get pregnant as soon as we start trying. Just because your hormones weren’t under influence from contraceptives doesn’t necessarily put you at an advantage. While your body may be better able to regulate itself, this doesn’t mean you can get pregnant easier. Your fertility can be influenced by factors other than contraceptives, and can also be problematic for no apparent reason at all.
- Myth 3: We are both very healthy; there is no way we could have infertility problems. While you may feel perfectly fit and healthy on the outside, feeling this way is no indicator of your fertility. Many men and women have severe fertility problems and show no outward signs. Of course, being unhealthy can be a risk factor for infertility, but it does not necessarily work the other way around.
- Myth 4: If we aren’t pregnant in the first few months of trying, there must be something wrong. Those sex-ed teachers (and everyone else who wants to scare young people into taking responsibility for their reproductive lives) really want you to believe you can get pregnant at the drop of a hat, don’t they! But, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a couple isn’t considered infertile until they have been trying to conceive for one year. That’s a long time to keep trying without worrying! Eighty percent of healthy couples will conceive by this time.
- Myth 5: If we have sex often enough, we will get pregnant. Unless your partner has a problem with his sperm count, by all means, have all the sex you want! But it is important to realize that you only need to have sex during a few crucial days of each month. These are the days you ovulate, and unfortunately, you could have sex 29 days out for a 30-day cycle and still miss ovulation. Timing, not repetitiveness, is important.
- Myth 6: As long as I am younger than 35, I am very fertile. While it is true that a woman’s fertility dramatically decreases once she is older than age 35, women in their 20s can also have fertility problems. You are most fertile in your 20s, but each year that passes without pregnancy can increase your risk to fertility problems.
- Myth 7: I will get pregnant if I have sex 14 days after my period. This is one of the biggest misconceptions still taught to many young girls today. Unless you have a perfect, consistent, 28-day cycle (which is not the norm for most women), you are not always most fertile on day 14. The old “calendar” method of birth control was based on the false assumption that women ovulate on day 14. This is simply not true for most women, and only tracking your fertility signs will help you determine when your ovulation period is.
- Myth 8: My partner and I don’t have to do anything different (sexually) to conceive. Well, you don’t have to change the basics of sex, but it will help to refrain from using lubricants of any kind, and you also shouldn’t have any kind of oral sex. Lubricants and saliva can kill sperm.
- Myth 9: Fertility problems are very rare. According to the Arizona Center for Fertility Studies, one out of six couples has trouble conceiving. Infertility is often a painful issue that many couples won’t bring up, and because many suffer in silence, you may not have realized that many couples you talk to may have had (or are still having) problems conceiving.
- Myth 10: I conceived my first baby easily, so the next pregnancies should be easy to achieve.
While getting pregnant in the past should give you some comfort, it should never give you false security. Many couples have trouble conceiving another child. The diagnosis is called “secondary infertility” and in 1995, according to a government survey, 3.3 million Americans reported fertility problems after having at least one child.
While the facts on infertility can be alarming, they are not meant to scare you. Still, myths about how easy it is to become pregnant can cause the same pain and anxiety that any couple suffering real infertility experiences. That’s why it is important to know the facts.