These seven myths are often heard among couples who want to get pregnant. In large part, they are completely unfounded. 1

You can conceive only on the day of ovulation

False. Sperm can survive approximately 72 hours, sometimes even up to five days, in the genital tract. Sexual intercourse two or three days prior to ovulation can thus still result in the successful fertilization of the egg. Following ovulation, the ovum travels along the Fallopian tubes for about 24 hours. So, you still have potential for fertilization 24 hours after ovulation.

Menstrual cycles are always 28 days

The duration of menstrual cycles can vary between 24 and 36 days, depending on the individual woman. Some women regularly have a relatively long or short cycle; for others, the duration of the menstrual cycle varies from month to month. The myth of the 28-day cycle can be traced to the introduction of the pill, because the hormones in the pill artificially establish a 28-day cycle.

Having sex every day increase your chances of pregnancy

That is not necessary. Since it often takes six to twelve months to conceive, it is best to take it easy. There is no point in the male partner exhausting himself since his sperm is viable for three to five days inside his female partner.

You can’t get pregnant while menstruating

While the likelihood of fertilization through sexual intercourse during menstruation is not particularly high, some women ovulate as early as four days after menstruation. Since sperm can survive up to five days in the genital tract, it is possible that sexual intercourse during menstruation can lead to pregnancy.

Holding up your legs after sex increases the chances of pregnancy

The theory is that holding up your legs lets gravity to do its part in helping sperm travel to the cervical os. No research has been done to confirm or refute this theory. So, since it can’t hurt, it might just be worth a try!

Eating oysters helps male fertility

There is some truth to this. Oysters contain high amounts of zinc and amino acids. Not getting enough zinc can lead to low levels of testosterone; amino acids can stimulate sperm development. Given these two factors, oysters can indeed have a positive effect on sperm development. Please be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes other vitamins and minerals as well.

A healthy diet is enough to get all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids

A healthy diet is a theoretical concept that is difficult to attain in the real world. Numerous studies in Europe and the US confirm that a large part of the population does not get enough vitamins and amino acids. Deficiencies in folic acid and Vitamin D are evident in 80% of the population. Iron, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C are additional nutrients that are not part of our diets in adequate amounts. The same goes for the essential Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which help regulate cholesterol levels and play an important role in the development of nerve tissue. Not many people follow nutritionists’ recommendations of two servings of fish per week and five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

A deficiency in vitamins, minerals, or Omega-3 fatty acids significantly increases the likelihood of complications during pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency during the first two weeks of pregnancy presents a fourfold increase in the risk of spina bifida (incomplete closing of the fetal neural tube). Fetal development may also be negatively impacted. It is highly recommended that before and during pregnancy, expectant mothers strictly follow a healthy diet or take vitamin and mineral supplements.

  1. Fehring RJ, Schneider M, Raviele K (2006) Variability in phases of the menstrual cycle. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 35: 376-384
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