Top 5 fertility myths debunked: How to get pregnant faster 7 years ago

Top 5 fertility myths debunked: How to get pregnant faster

With almost a decade of experience in the field, our resident natural fertility expert Jessica Bourke has gained a reputation for helping women conceive where everything else has failed. Here she busts the top five myths that surround fertility:

1 Getting pregnant is easy

We all know those women who say they got pregnant the first month of trying, but statistics tell us a different story. It's now estimated that one in six will have fertility issues over their reproductive lifetime. Even more surprising is that for a healthy couple in their mid-twenties, the odds of conception each month are roughly one in four. To put that in perspective, a 25% chance of conception each month is about the same success rate quoted to patients on an average IVF cycle. So all things considered, it’s amazing any of us are here at all. That said, if you have been trying for over a year without success, it would be worth having fertility tests done to make sure nothing is impacting your chances of conceiving. If you’ve had a couple of miscarriages, then it may be worth getting checked out sooner, rather than later.

2 Fertility issues are a womans problem

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fertility is a shared problem, where the responsibility lies with both partners. After all, your partner contributes 50% of the DNA that will become your future baby so he should take equal interest in his health to ensure the best chances of conception.

Research from Queens University (2012) found that for patients given a diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility’, up to 80 per cent of those cases were due to defective DNA in the partner's sperm. This is important information for would-be parents, given that a man could have a perfectly healthy semen analysis but the genetic material in the head of the sperm could still be flawed. The good news is that if your partner has an elevated DNA fragmentation result, research has found that in most cases, high dose antioxidant therapy is effective at reducing fragmentation levels.

3 I must be ovulating because I feel twinges in my belly mid-cycle

Unfortunately, experiencing twinges or cramps in the abdomen around days 12-14 is no guarantee that you have ovulated. Even the ovulation predictor kits widely available in pharmacies can give misleading results. Timing is everything with ovulation and if your cycle is unpredictable, you may use the kit too early or too late and miss the ovulatory window.

The only ways to know for sure you have ovulated are:

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1 You’re pregnant

2 You have a follicle tracking scan, which shows that a follicle has erupted, releasing an egg.

3 A blood test of your day 21 progesterone levels shows that it is sufficiently elevated. i.e. over 30 at a minimum.

Ovulatory disorders are a common cause of delayed conception, so if you have been trying for a while, it would be worth getting checked to make sure that your ovaries are responsive and your hormone levels are at a healthy level.

4 If a man has a poor sperm sample, there is nothing that can be done about it.

If your partner was unlucky enough to be born with anatomical issues that prevent the production of sperm, then the donor route is probably your next best step. However, thankfully this type of male fertility problem is pretty rare. In most cases of male sub-fertility, the issue is with the sperm parameters. So, if your partner’s sperm test shows poor motility, (not swimming very well), low count (anything under 20 million), or poor morphology (oddly-shaped sperm), then there's no reason why he shouldn’t try to improve his semen analysis result via diet and lifestyle changes.

In most cases, these changes need to be followed for a minimum of three or four months to allow enough time for the body to produce a fresh batch of healthier sperm. In the case of an elevated sperm DNA fragmentation result, the time-frame allowed should be up to six months to show significant improvement.

5 Ill make all the necessary diet/lifestyle changes once Im pregnant. Nothing I do before that point matters.

This is one of the most common and pervasive fertility myths, which can potentially have an enormous impact on the likelihood that you will carry a pregnancy to term and may also dictate the health of your future baby.

This area of fertility is known as ‘pre-conception medicine’, which involves scientists researching various diet and lifestyle behaviours to see whether the actions men and women take in the months leading up to conception have a positive or negative association with the outcome of the pregnancy and their future baby’s health.

In the last year alone, various research papers have been published on this topic. For example, a prospective father who is a smoker, may increase the asthma risk in his offspring. If he is drinking alcohol in the lead up to conception this may also increase the risk of foetal abnormalities. In women’s case, if the mother’s diet prior to conception is poor it can have a permanent effect on her babies genetic ‘blueprint’ and if she is overweight when trying to conceive the development of the egg follicles and resulting embryo are likely to be compromised.

So if you want to positively influence your future baby’s health, it makes sense to act as if you are already pregnant. Your partner should adopt the same approach, remembering that any sacrifices he makes now are worth it in the long-term. After all, once you conceive, he’s off the hook, while you’ll still have a minimum of 10 months of healthy living to maintain for the duration of the pregnancy and in to the post-natal period.

For more, visit jessicabourke.com