Tell someone you are trying to conceive and the cupboard full of advice that you never knew they had will overflow. So, we asked experts about seven of the most common beliefs about fertility. Here’s what they had to say:
Myth 1: Female age doesn’t matter as long as you are under 35
Unfortunately, age does matter when it comes to fertility and your chances of pregnancy fall dramatically as you grow older. “A healthy 30-year-old woman has a 20 per cent chance of getting pregnant within one month of trying, but those chances drop to 5 per cent for a 40-year-old woman. It’s important to understand there isn’t a magic number, the decline is gradual,” explains Dr Shuchita Meherishi, Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Specialist), Aster Hospital.
Dr Shiva Harikirshnan, Senior Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medcare Women and Children Hospital, says: “The peak age of fertility for women is 18 to 28 years. By the age of 30, fertility starts declining in females. The decline becomes more rapid after 35. Women have a fixed number of eggs (usually around two to three million) and the repository starts declining even before birth; it declines at the rate of 10 per cent every year.”
Myth 2: Male fertility does not decline with age
No, it’s not a woman thing – men are affected by age, too; it’s just that for them the decline begins a bit later. “After the age of 40, a man is likely to start experiencing a decrease in semen volume and motility. So it’s not right to assume that only women’s fertility decreases with age,” explains Dr Meherishi.
Myth 3: Food causes miscarriages
Nutrition is doubly important when trying to conceive and food with increased sugar levels such as white rice, potatoes, cornflakes, caffeine, pumpkins, frozen and baked foods can affect fertility, says Dr Harikirshnan. “Generally, foods that can cause miscarriages include pineapple, which contains bromelain that can soften the neck of the foetus and result in miscarriage; unripe papaya, sesame seeds and raw eggs. It is always better to avoid fish rich in mercury, raw meat, raw sprouts and unpasteurised diary during pregnancy,” she adds.
Pineapple, which contains bromelain that can soften the neck of the foetus and result in miscarriage...one must realise that food eaten in moderation cannot harm anyone.
But, she is quick to add, one must realise that food eaten in moderation cannot harm anyone or cause miscarriages.
What you eat however can help make your pregnancy journey better, explains Dr Meherishi. “Good fertility 'superfoods' are typically nutrient-dense, fibre-rich foods that boost certain nutrients that will have a benefit toward fertility. Focus on fresh vegetables, beans and nuts, and unsaturated oils,” she says.
Myth 4: Women can’t get pregnant on their period
Periods – or menstruation – is essentially a woman’s uterus getting rid of its lining each month if she isn’t pregnant. So it’s no wonder that many people think a woman can’t get pregnant while this happens. The truth would surprise you. “Although unlikely, it is still possible to get pregnant during periods. Sperm can survive in the uterus up to five days, and if you have sex towards the end of your period, it’s possible that sperm can fertilise an egg after it is released during ovulation. It’s more possible in women with shorter menstruation cycles,” explains Dr Meherishi.
Myth 5: Lying prone after sex increases chances of becoming pregnant
This is one of the most common questions that are posited to doctors when it comes to a fertility journey. But does it really work? There’s no scientific backing for this theory, but, explains Dr Meherishi: “Sperm are chemically designed to move towards the egg. And there are millions upon millions of sperm in each cubic centimetre of semen. The notion of advising to lie prone is just physics gravity principle, it seems the more effortless way to travel.”
Sperm are chemically designed to move towards the egg. And there are millions upon millions of sperm in each cubic centimetre of semen. The notion of advising to lie prone is just physics gravity principle, it seems the more effortless way to travel.
Myth 6: If you have one child already, you cannot suffer from infertility
Every birth journey is unique and there are no guarantees. “Secondary infertility can occur after the birth of one child,” confirms Dr Harikirshnan.
Myth 7: Infertility is mainly a female ‘problem’
Absolutely not. Dr Meherishi says, “Infertility affects men and women equally. Infertility cause can be traced back to the woman only 35 per cent of the time. Men also contribute to infertility 35 per cent of the time, while 20 per cent of the time both partners are a part of the issue. In the remaining 10 per cent of cases, the cause is unknown,” she adds.
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