Myths Surrounding Conception

Reviewed on : 24 June 2016

Over ages, women have relied on other women to inform themselves about conception and pregnancy related issues. While most of the views and opinions have been accumulated over time based on actual experience and reflect the truth, some others are simply myths and have no basis in truth.

Every pregnancy is unique and what worked for one woman might not necessarily work for others. Still few things which might have had a correlation with benefits experienced by women (though not a proven causality) have been given quite a lot of importance and have become ingrained in beliefs. In the past, there wasn’t sufficient information and research to disprove some of these beliefs but now we can reliably debunk some of these “unsubstantiated” beliefs as nothing more than mere myths.

Myths Related to Conception

Elevating Hips after Sex – Some women believe that lying on the back with the hips elevated for some time after intercourse will improve their chances of conceiving. This was argued on the basis that gravity will help the sperm to reach the egg more easily. While this may sound logical, there is no evidence available that justifies this claim.

Health care experts state that staying in bed after intercourse can only prevent the sperm from leaking out of the vagina. The rest is up to chance. So for certain, following this also won’t harm in anyway.

Need for Orgasm – One might have heard from friends that reaching orgasm is essential for getting pregnant. This is not true…at least partially not true. It is known that an orgasm can help in contracting the uterus which can help the sperm reach the fallopian tube faster. That’s all there is to it and while an orgasm can make the sperm reach the fallopian tube quicker, it does not increase the chances of the sperm being able to fertilize the egg, leading to a pregnancy. Also, even if there is no orgasm, an actively motile sperm can still reach the fallopian tube and feritilize the egg.

Drinking Cough Syrup – Some cough syrups include a compound called guaifenesin which can thin the cervical mucus, making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg. This has led many people to believe that drinking cough syrup can increase the chances of conceiving. Women who have a normal mucus lining however cannot benefit from it as the changes in the mucus consistency is linked to the ovulation cycle and the mucus is anyhow at the thinnest during the fertile period. Therefore, blindly believing that cough syrups increase the chances of conception is wrong.

Having Sex Every Day – While this might come as a good news for some couples, keep in mind that it is not completely true. The most important factor to consider is the time of ovulation. If a woman is not ovulating, the couple cannot conceive, irrespective of how frequently they have intercourse. According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), a study showed that the pregnancy rates did not differ in couples who had intercourse every other day when compared to couples who had sex every day.

Fertility Boosting Sex Positions – Some people believe that the chances of conception are the highest if the couple engage in intercourse in certain styles. While there is no research to show the efficacy of particular positions for intercourse, experts agree that a deeper penetration does help improve chances of conception. Therefore, a couple need not restrict themselves to one position when trying to conceive.

Green Tea – It is known that green tea contains polyphenols which can boost fertility by making the egg more viable. Thus, drinking green tea is, in some cases, recommended for women who are trying to get pregnant. While this is not a myth, what one needs to keep in mind is that drinking excess of green tea can have adverse effects as well. If consumed in large amounts, green tea can reduce the efficacy of folic acid, which is essential for fetal development.

Lubricants Help Sperm Swim – Some people believe that lubricants can help the sperm move faster and reach the egg quicker. This is not true as the cervical mucus provides the medium which helps the sperm move towards the egg. Lubricants can sometimes be even harmful for the cervical mucus. They can change the pH levels in the vaginal tract and in some cases, kill the sperm.

Delayed Pregnancy due to Birth Control Pill – It is believed that taking birth control pills for an extended period can lead to delay in conceiving. After a woman stops taking these pills, her menstrual cycle generally gets regularised quite quickly. Thus, ovulation can be expected within a few weeks. Previous studies have shown that out of all women who stop the pill and try conceiving, 80% of them conceive within a year.

A Boy or a Girl – Some myths state that there are certain things that one can do to conceive a boy or a girl. These include having sex under a full moon to give birth to a girl and under a quarter moon for a boy; sticking to a particular position or even facing a particular direction. All these beliefs are based on mere coincidence and do not have any scientific backing. The Chinese lunar calendar is believed to be capable of specifying the months in which a couple can have sex to give birth to a boy or a girl. Medically, there is no guaranteed way of conceiving either a boy or a girl and that is good as it is.

So while some of these myths are based on partial truths, everyone has to make their own choices about believing and/or following them or not. In the end everyone has to find their own way to conceive and nothing is better than when it happens through anxiety free, regular and healthy intercourse and the child born from it is also healthy.

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