23 Feb 7 Surprising Facts About Fertility
Most people are familiar with the fertility basics, but few truly understand how complicated it is to get pregnant.
There are so many factors involved, including both partners’ health and lifestyle choices. This makes for plenty of fertility myths, which we like to counter by shedding light on some of the more surprising – but true – fertility facts.
7 Things You Might Not Know About Fertility
Here are seven facts about fertility that may surprise you.
1. The fertile window begins about six days before ovulation
The media plays a role in spreading one of the most common fertility myths: you only get pregnant if you have sex on ovulation day. This isn’t the case at all. In fact, studies show that the “fertility window” opens about six days before a woman ovulates.
This is because male sperm can live for several days and even up to a full week. The more couples have sex in the week leading up to ovulation and ovulation day, the higher their chances of getting pregnant. If you know your man has a low sperm count, your doctor may recommend having sex every other day, rather than every day, during the handful of days before ovulating.
2. Sex matters outside the fertility window, too
Here’s another thing most couples don’t know: the more sex you have outside the fertility window, the higher your fertility chances are. We aren’t 100% sure why just yet, but researchers have discovered that couples who have sex during non-fertility window days have higher fertility rates than those who exclusively time sex for intercourse. Couples who have sex every day have higher fertility rates than those who time sex or have a more sporadic sex life.
The immune system plays a huge role in facilitating healthy conception and pregnancy. Sometimes, overactive immune systems register sperm, a fertilized egg, or an implanted embryo as “an invader,” making it harder for women to conceive or carry a baby full-term. Researchers hypothesize that the more often a woman has sex, the more frequently her immune system gets the message that it’s time to make a baby, which may increase her chances of conceiving.
3. Being healthy doesn’t mean you’re fertile
It is absolutely true that overall health and wellbeing are the ideal foundations for a full-term pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child. This is why we place such emphasis on preparing your body for pregnancy. That said, women who seem “perfectly healthy on paper” may have other issues that compromise their ability to conceive, such as mild endometriosis, eggs with chromosomal abnormalities, or undiagnosed health conditions.
If you’re planning to start a family in the next year or two, schedule a pre-conception appointment with your OB/GYN to get a more comprehensive picture of your reproductive and fertility health.
4. Your weight affects fertility
Weight matters when it comes to getting pregnant and enjoying the healthiest pregnancy outcomes. Being either underweight or overweight is directly correlated to infertility and higher rates of pregnancy risks or adverse birth outcomes. Do your best to manage your weight between a BMI of 20 to 25 to support healthy fertility goals.
5. Position doesn’t matter
There are ample myths out there about sexual position and best-pregnancy outcomes. None of them are correct. Study after study shows that pregnancy rates are completely unaffected by the partner’s position or the woman’s attempts to keep the sperm in as long as possible.
Healthy sperm are strong and swift swimmers. So, one way to think about it is that after ejaculation, most sperm are already on their way up the vagina and into the cervix. Any sperm stragglers may have issues of their own in terms of their shape or ability to swim, which means you wouldn’t want them fertilizing an egg anyway.
6. Men have a biological clock, too
While most people know about the female biological clock, few know that men also have a biological clock. Studies have shown that there is a slight decline in sperm number and motility by the time a man hits 35 or 49, but that there’s a notable decline in female fertility rates when her partner is 50 or more.
Even if your partner has fathered children in the past, it’s worth having his sperm analyzed especially if he is 45 years or older and you’re struggling to get pregnant.
7. Lubrication doesn’t help sperm
Lubrication runs the risk of changing the pH of your vagina and altering your vagina’s natural lubrication process, naturally programmed to support conception at the right times of the month. So, if you are trying to conceive, it’s best to leave lubrication in the cabinet for now. If you must use it for comfort, try using a natural option, which is less likely to interrupt the sperm’s journey.
Is it taking you longer than you thought to get pregnant? Reach out to your OB/GYN and see if it might be time to consult with a fertility specialist. If so, the team at the Fertility Center of Dallas is here to support you every step of the way.