Fertility Myths

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on August 14, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on August 14, 2014

Fertility Myths

There are all sorts of magic “tricks” people promote for getting pregnant. However, trying to put this folklore into practice can be a real source of stress, particularly when it doesn’t work. It’s important to remember that getting pregnant after trying a specific method or technique doesn’t necessarily mean that the practice in question was the cause. In most cases, it’s likely to have been a coincidence.

Some common beliefs about treating infertility are explained below. While most of them aren’t entirely wrong, they aren’t entirely right either. 

Boxers Aren’t Really Better Than Briefs

When testicles are regularly exposed to heat, sperm counts go down. However, the research on this mostly concerns hot tubs, not underwear. The idea behind the boxers-versus-briefs debate is that briefs hug the man tighter and bring up the temperature of the scrotum.

Doctors often do recommend switching to looser underwear, but there’s not a lot of research to support it. It certainly seems unlikely to do any harm.

You Don’t Need to Raise the Woman’s Bottom after Orgasm

In terms of gravity, the idea makes sense. If you tilt up a woman’s hips, sperm runs toward the uterus and fallopian tubes. Unfortunately, your acrobatics may be for naught. Sperm cells travel chemically, not gravitationally. There’s no need to encourage movement in the right direction.

That said, it may not be a bad idea to stay lying down for 15 to 20 minutes after sex. You may have noticed that when you stand up right after sex, semen drips out. The dripping doesn’t affect your fertility. However, lying down for a little while may give the sperm more of a chance to get where they need to go. You’ll still see dripping when you get up, but that should not change the likelihood of conception nor be cause for concern.

Stress Doesn’t Makes You Infertile

While it does not cause infertility, stress may make you less fertile. Stress may delay ovulation and affect sperm count. It can also make you less interested in having sex. The less sex you have, the less likely you are to get pregnant.

Stress alone will not definitively keep you from getting pregnant. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to try and reduce your stress levels. You just shouldn’t let doing so become another source of stress.

Timing Is the Most Important Part of Conception

It’s true that timing is the most important part of conception. What isn’t true is that you can figure out that timing by looking at a generic timeline. Women are most fertile in the days leading up to ovulation. They are also usually fertile for a day or two after. However, the only way to determine your most fertile days is to track your ovulation. That means keeping track of your basal body temperature and cervical mucus across multiple menstrual cycles — just using an ovulation kit won’t help. By the time you ovulate, your most fertile days will actually have passed. 

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