True or False? Let's Debunk Some Fertility Myths

True or False? Let's Debunk Some Fertility Myths


The "Fertility Cliff." Putting your legs up after sex so "gravity can do its job." The idea that getting pregnant is inherently simple at a certain age. There are so many misconceptions about fertility—and since this chapter tends to be a private one for so many, it's even easier to feel alone when our personal experience doesn't align with what we've heard to be true. When we surveyed nearly 1000 of you about trying to conceive, many of you noted some of the all-too-pervasive myths that came up when you started your conception journey—and these are questions that our panel of fertility doctors field in their practices every day.

With this in mind, we rounded up some the most common misconceptions our experts hear around TTC. Test your knowledge below.

"I don't need to take prenatal vitamins until I'm pregnant."

Our experts say: false. 

Ideally, you should start a prenatal vitamin regimen at least six months before you're ready to start trying. There are a few reasons for that: “[Even with] an excellent diet, it is still important to optimize minerals, such as iron, and vitamin levels prior to pregnancy,” says OB/GYN and Perelel medical co-Founder Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, MD. “Starting three to six months before a desired pregnancy with a folate-based prenatal that contains adequate amounts of vitamin D and omega-3 DHA is best.”

This is especially important since nutrients like folate and omega-3 DHA are crucial for the fetus' development in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, before you even know you're pregnant. But better yet, you'll start a prenatal vitamin regimen that includes nutrients to support fertility, too—our Conception Support Pack* was formulated by top fertility doctors to include our Core Prenatal, additional folate and omegas to support early pregnancy nutrition, and CoQ10 to support egg health and ovarian function.*

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"After age 35, fertility drops off a cliff."

Our experts say: false.

While it's true that age is a factor in fertility, the idea of a "fertility cliff" is a myth—it's more of a gentle slope. In fact, one of the largest studies ever conducted on age and fertility found that women under the age of 35 have an 84 percent chance of conceiving within a year of trying, versus a 78 percent chance for women between the age of 35 and 40—a difference of only six percent.

That said, our egg quality naturally starts to decrease with age—which is why reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Andy Huang, MD, FACOG, recommends that if you're over 35 and have been trying for over six months, it's a good idea to check in with a fertility specialist to pinpoint anything that might be an issue for both you and your partner.

"Having an orgasm increases my chances."

Our experts say: false.

Though it certainly doesn't hurt. “While orgasm doesn't increase rate of conception it does produce oxytocin, a stress relieving hormone,” says Dr. Caitlin O’Connor, ND. “And stress reduction definitely has a net positive impact on fertility."

"There's very little chance of pregnancy outside of my fertile window."

Our experts say: true.

As a reminder, your fertile window is the time during your menstrual cycle when you're most likely to get pregnant. When the mature egg drops down from an ovary during ovulation, a sperm needs to fertilize it in the fallopian tube for a pregnancy to occur. The egg only survives about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation—but since sperm can survive for up to five days in the uterus, your fertile window includes the days leading up to ovulation.

That said, everyone's cycle is different—and for some, ovulation might vary from month to month. That's why Dr. Bayati recommends starting to have more sex as soon as your period ends, up until ovulation and the day after. And getting acquainted with your individual cycle is key. "It can take up to six months of tracking to really understand your cycle and its phases, so plan early and educate yourself,” she says.

"Since I'm the one carrying the baby, preparing for pregnancy is on me."

Our experts say: false.

This is your friendly reminder that TTC is a 50/50 endeavor. About half of all cases of infertility are caused by a male factor. What's more: "Sperm has a three to four month lifespan, so sperm leaving the body today went into production four months ago,” says Dr. O’Connor. 

Research shows that environmental factors like stress, smoking, and poor diet impact both sperm health and egg health—so just as you start taking steps to prepare your body for pregnancy, your partner should, too.

Curious when to start preparing for pregnancy? Check out our step-by-step guide here.

Resources:

1.  Florou P, Anagnostis P, Theocharis P, Chourdakis M, Goulis DG. Does coenzyme Q10 supplementation improve fertility outcomes in women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2020 Oct;37(10):2377-2387. doi: 10.1007/s10815-020-01906-3. Epub 2020 Aug 7. PMID: 32767206; PMCID: PMC7550497.

2.  Rothman KJ, Wise LA, Sørensen HT, Riis AH, Mikkelsen EM, Hatch EE. Volitional determinants and age-related decline in fecundability: a general population prospective cohort study in Denmark. Fertil Steril. 2013 Jun;99(7):1958-64. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.02.040. Epub 2013 Mar 18. PMID: 23517858; PMCID: PMC3672329.

3.  Kovac JR, Khanna A, Lipshultz LI. The effects of cigarette smoking on male fertility. Postgrad Med. 2015 Apr;127(3):338-41. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2015.1015928. Epub 2015 Feb 19. PMID: 25697426; PMCID: PMC4639396.

4.  Ferramosca A, Zara V. Diet and Male Fertility: The Impact of Nutrients and Antioxidants on Sperm Energetic Metabolism. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Feb 25;23(5):2542. doi: 10.3390/ijms23052542. PMID: 35269682; PMCID: PMC8910394.