Trying to Conceive? Know the Facts About Fertility

If you’re trying to get pregnant, planning – and timing – can be crucial. There’s no shortage of conventional wisdom about ways to increase your chances of conceiving. But these myths and misconceptions about fertility can harm, not help, your efforts. Here’s a look at a few of the most common myths about fertility – and what the science says instead.

Daily Sex Increases the Chance of Conceiving

There’s a popular misconception that the more sex you have, the more likely you are to get pregnant – and doing it daily, or even more often, can tip the odds in your favor. But timing is everything. When you’re trying to conceive, the only time that matters is during ovulation, that point midway through a woman’s menstrual cycle when an egg is available to be fertilized.

Ovulation generally takes place between Day 11 and Day 21 of a normal menstrual cycle, and a mature egg typically lives for 12 to 24 hours, so daily sex during that time could increase the chances of conception, but on other days, it won’t help at all.

Spotting Marks the Start of the Menstrual Period

When you’re trying to get pregnant, tracking menstrual cycles is an essential tool for determining when those fertile mid cycle days are likely. The first day of bleeding is considered the first day of a new cycle, but for many women, that’s not so easy to establish.

Spotting – a few drops of blood – can happen at various times of the menstrual cycle. For some women, ovulation is accompanied by spotting. And spotting can happen for a day or two – or more- before the actual menstrual flow begins. For the purposes of tracking fertility, spotting isn’t an accurate indicator of the start of the menstrual period. The day full bleeding begins marks the start of the true menstrual period, so ovulation can be estimated from that date.

As Long As You’re Menstruating, You Can Conceive

In theory, there’s some truth to that. But menstruation isn’t always linked to ovulation. It’s possible to have anovulatory cycles even with regular menstrual periods. And as a woman ages, conceiving becomes less likely – even though she may continue to have menstrual periods until menopause arrives in her mid-forties or older.

Fertility statistics reveal that a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant in a given month. Past 40, those chances drop to just 5 percent, so even though a woman may be menstruating, her chances of conceiving drop dramatically over time.

Having One Child Makes it Easier to Have Another

One of the many myths about conception holds that if a couple has successfully conceived one child, it will be easy to have another. But “secondary infertility” – the inability to conceive a second time – can happen even if a first pregnancy happened without problems. Age can play a role, if there’s an extended gap between attempts to conceive. Other circumstances can change, too, so having a first child doesn’t automatically mean that it will be just as easy to have a second one.

If You Stop Worrying, It Will Happen

A common myth holds that couples who are “trying” too hard to conceive actually hurt their chances because of added stress. – and that once they stop worrying and relax, conception happens. But there’s no evidence that being preoccupied with conceiving and feeling stressed about it affects the actual process of fertilization, though that might affect a couple’s relationship or other areas of their lives.

Even under the best of circumstances, the odds of conceiving in any given month are astonishingly low. But skipping the myths and following the facts about fertility can boost your chances of success.