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Clearing up common fertility misconceptions

Whether it’s a well-meaning friend or a stranger on the internet, as we grow and start learning about our bodies, many of us hear a lot of myths about reproductive health and fertility. But if you’re starting to think about having a family, it’s high time to set the record straight.

Myths about fertility

So read on to learn a few important fertility facts – and get clear on just what’s fiction. Being armed with this knowledge will help you better understand your body. And, if you’re trying to have a baby now or sometime soon, it will also help you have a happier, healthier TTC journey.

There’s no “one size fits all” cycle

Many people think that menstrual cycles should work like clockwork, but not everyone has a cycle that falls into a textbook 28-day pattern. In fact, many people have cycles that are a bit longer, shorter, or vary slightly month to month. When ovulation occurs within each cycle can vary slightly as well. Tracking your data every day with Ovia is a great way to get a better sense of your unique cycle, including when you ovulate and your most fertile days.

Be aware of what you introduce down there

Some people like to use douches because they feel fresher or cleaner after using them – or because they’ve been told that douching will make them feel fresher and cleaner –  but douching can change the pH of your vagina, which can lead to a wealth of problems and even make conception more difficult. Unless there’s an underlying condition or issue preventing it, the vagina is able to self-regulate and self-clean as necessary. If you’re experiencing issues with smell or discharge, consider consulting your healthcare provider before using a douche.

If you use personal lubricants, keep in mind that they can act as a partial spermicide (and though this decreases fertility, lubricant should definitely not be relied on as a contraceptive). There are a number of fertility-focused lubricants available that provide lubrication but don’t block sperm and might even aid in your fertility efforts.

A bit of caffeine is entirely okay

Multiple studies, and a report by the National Infertility Association, suggest that too much caffeine could hurt your fertility. However, there are various opinions about what exactly constitutes an acceptable amount of caffeine daily for females trying to conceive, and most experts agree that a bit of coffee each day is just fine. In terms of specifics, expert opinions on an acceptable amount of caffeine range from 100 to 500 milligrams per day. And for context, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine. Because of this, just be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about what’s best for you.

Everything in moderation

If you have a male partner, you might think that the best way to boost your chances of conception would be to have intercourse as often as possible during your fertile window. But like so many things, you want to aim for a Goldilocks-and-the-three-bears sweet spot: not too much, not too little, but just right. Some doctors say intercourse every day can drive sperm count down, while other research shows that daily ejaculation can improve semen quality. And some research shows that there is no significant difference between the conception rate of couples who have intercourse every day or every other day during the fertile window.

Keep in mind that trying to mandate a schedule for your sex lives can be stressful for many couples, and stress definitely doesn’t help your chances of conception. So if both of you are otherwise healthy, try to focus on fun with your baby making by finding times that work for you!

Care focused on your unique needs is best

There are plenty of individuals who worry about their fertility sooner than they may need to, while others could probably benefit from a healthcare provider’s advice right away. As a general rule, if you’re under 35, have regular periods, and don’t have a history of STDs, you don’t need to seek out expert health advice until you’ve been trying to conceive for a full year.

If you are over 35 with regular periods and no history of STDs, you may want to check in with your healthcare provider if you’ve been trying to conceive for six months or longer. But if you have any questions about what’s best for you, certainly do check in with your healthcare provider so they can provide you with guidance.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, June 12 2015. Retrieved July 12 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/female-fertility/art-20045887.

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