September 16, 2014

10 Sex Myths Debunked When Trying to Conceive

If you’re looking to conceive, you may have some questions about sex that you hadn’t thought of before. Over the years, countless old wives’ tales have been created around sex, conception, and pregnancy.

But constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t do when trying to conceive can take the pleasure right out of their intimacy. To help distinguish fact from fiction, I’ve debunked 10 myths below.

Myth 1: Does laying down after sex help with pregnancy?
While there is no scientific evidence that laying down after sex can increase pregnancy, standing up or going to the bathroom does cause gravity to pull sperm away from the direction of the cervix. Laying down for 15 minutes after sex can help sperm by giving them the time and directional ability to get where they need to go.

Myth 2: Do certain positions enhance the ability to conceive?
It has not been scientifically proven that certain sex positions are more effective. Sperm will travel to the cervix regardless of position, but may do so more effectively when gravity is working in its favor. Do whatever position feels right, then lay down after sex or finish in a position that won’t pull sperm away from the cervix.

Myth 3: Does having sex every day increase pregnancy?
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that having sex every day only slightly increases pregnancy versus having sex every other day. In men who have a normal sperm count, sex every day will not decrease the sperm concentration. This is great news for couples trying to conceive. Both findings allow couples to relax and have sex on their schedule, without concern of reducing conception odds.

Myth 4: Is it better to have sex in the morning?
Studies have shown that sperm count is slightly higher in the morning, which may make morning sex more effective for conception. But studies show this is only a slight difference, so if night sex works better with your schedule, stick to that.

Myth 5: Do aphrodisiacs really boost sex drive?
According to the FDA, there is no scientific evidence showing that aphrodisiacs increase sexual desire. In contrast, researchers have found that certain foods, herbs and supplements can stimulate hormone or chemical production, which can affect the libido (but they haven’t proven so conclusively). Monitoring the libido in conjunction with individual taste preferences introduces too many variable factors, as the sex drive and culinary preferences will vary from person to person. If champagne and chocolate puts you in the mood, go for it — but don’t put time into planning a menu in order to enhance desire.

Myth 6: Can a massage help when trying to conceive?
When it comes to having a baby, decreasing stress and relaxing is a critical component. In a Harvard Medical School study with women who had fertility problems, 55 percent of women who completed a 10-week course of relaxation training and stress reduction were pregnant within a year, compared to 20 percent of the group who did not take the course. Get a massage, meditate, rest, or do any other activities that aid in relaxation and decrease stress.

Myth 7: Can briefs and heat hinder a man’s fertility?
The testes are outside of the male body for a reason — to maintain a cooler temperature. Should the temperature of the testes reach 98 degrees, sperm production will temporarily cease. Conversely, cooler temperatures can cause sperm count to rise, but it takes at least two months of cool temperatures for sperm count to be affected. Activities that can heat the testes, such as long visits to the hot tub, hours of typing on a laptop, wearing tight briefs and logging Olympian-quantity miles on a bicycle can heat up the testes and decrease sperm count.

Myth 8: Can you become pregnant a couple days after you have sex?
Sperm can live in the reproductive tract for three days, allowing conception to occur up to 72 hours after sex. Due to the resiliency of sperm after ejaculation, having sex prior to and during ovulation can boost conception odds.

Myth 9: Do sexual pheromones really exist?
In a study, scientists found that “hormone-like smells ‘turn on’ the brain's hypothalamus, which is normally not activated by regular odors.” Additional research teams also found that hormone-like chemicals can produce changes in mood, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, creating a pheromone effect. But do these changes affect sexual arousal? According to scientific research thus far, there is no clear tie.

Myth 10: Does lubricant affect my ability to get pregnant?
Water-based lubricants such as Astroglide and KY Jelly may inhibit sperm movement by 60-100 percent within 60 minutes of intercourse. Opt for natural oils, oil-based lubricants or even cooking oil, but be sure to keep any potential allergies in mind. Pre-Seed lubricant is a commercial product that may even enhance sperm’s ability to move.

Dr. John J Rapisarda Fertility Centers of Illinois Blog
Author Bio: Dr. John J. Rapisarda 
Dr. Rapisarda has been with FCI for nearly 20 years and is currently one of the managing partners. After graduating with honors from the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Rapisarda completed both his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology in Chicago. He has also served as an Assistant Professor of OB/GYN at the University of Chicago before joining FCI.  Dr. Rapisarda has been deemed a ‘top doctor’ by Castle Connolly, U.S. News & World Report and Chicago Magazine for several years. His compassionate, personalized and understanding approach to care has made Dr. Rapisarda an annual recipient of the Patients’ Choice Award since its inception.  His professional interests include management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), repeated miscarriages and IVF.

September 4, 2014

September 2014 Patient Education Events!

9/11 | Getting Out of Your Mental Rut: An Experiential Training Session | Chicago | 6PM | LEARN MORE

9/17 | Acupuncture for Fertility: Helpful or Just Hype? with Pulling Down the Moon | Chicago | 6:30PM | LEARN MORE

All FCI Patient Education Programs are open to the community. We continue to support your fertility journey by offering a selection of  complimentary patient education seminars, holistic healing seminars, and support groups. If you have any questions or comments please contact us at (877) 324-4483.

September 2, 2014

Common Fears That Patients Have About Using Donor Egg (Dr. Marie Davidson)

When someone is considering using donor eggs, it’s usually not their first choice or what they had hoped for. Often, couples have gone through infertility treatment never expecting that they would need a donor egg. When they realize it is the best option, they may feel confusion, fear, indecision, and sometimes very alone. When you’ve given everything you can to have a baby, coming to terms with having to use donor egg is not easy.

I’ve helped thousands of couples over the past 22 years, and I can assure you that every single one of your feelings and fears are normal. You’re not unusual in feeling the way you do. Although the infertility community can be very private, you are certainly not alone. 

Here are seven common fears that I’ve heard repeated over the years:

1. What if I can’t bond with my baby?
Coming to terms with using another woman’s eggs to have your baby is not simple. It’s no wonder that this question has crossed your mind – and you are not alone. This does not happen, and if it does, it is exceedingly rare. Thousands of mothers with children conceived through donor egg have lovingly embraced their baby from the beginning as theirs. Which it is, of course. And it’s also the baby of the father, and he didn’t even carry this adorable infant.

2. Will I always feel sad that I am not my child’s biological mother?
Although another woman does have a biological connection to your child as the egg donor, she is not the mother. Donors never regard themselves as the mothers of any child conceived through their donation. You most certainly will be the biological mother. Pregnancy, birth, and lactation (if that is your choice) are all biological.

3. What if my child rejects me later and says, “You aren’t my real mother”?
Children regard parents as the people who care for them, spend time with them, love them, and guide them. This is extremely unlikely, and even if said, it is “teen code” that translates to “I hate how you are ruling my life, how can I wound you?”

4. What if my family does not accept my child?
Though this is very unlikely, it can be a valid concern for some. If your family is very traditional or places emphasis on genetics, egg donation may seem like a big hurdle to overcome. If that is the case, you don’t have to tell them. You might want to share this information later, or not at all. Often, the timing of telling family and close contacts is important. Talking with a counselor can be helpful as you walk through this decision.

5. Will telling my child just confuse him or her?
There is a lot of great information on this topic that is reassuring. When children grow up with the information that their parent(s) had help so they could be born, and it is never approached as a taboo subject, children are not confused. This is just simply part of their unique story. They may have questions, especially as they get older, but such questions arise from a desire to know more about themselves, not a place of confusion.

6. Is this a selfish choice?
No, it’s not. Allow yourself credit for how much you wanted to have a child and how you cared for your baby prenatally. You went through a lot to have your baby, and it was all in the interest of him or her. You looked at all options and this was the best one for you.

7. Are egg donors just doing this for money? Could they be lying about their family health history?
Many ask this common question — why would anyone donate? I have spoken with more than a thousand donors. Typically, they are typically well-informed, thoughtful, and have strong support from their family and friends. Would someone become a donor if they were not financially compensated? No. Because it’s just too hard. Is monetary compensation the only reason they donate? Sometimes, but even so, the donor knows they are helping someone. Most donors truly want to help others. They don’t see their donation as “giving up a child.” They are giving eggs, the building block of making a baby. Most often, they try to make a good faith effort about family history.

It’s important to internally work through each question and fear you have, and give yourself time to make your decision. Talk with friends or a counselor. Once you process everything and feel ready, you will know the decision that is best for you. 

Author Bio: 
Dr. Marie Davidson is a licensed clinical psychologist and patient educator with Fertility Centers of Illinois. She specializes in counseling individuals and couples who are coping with infertility, and has provided counseling services to patients, donors and surrogates since 1992. She facilitates patient education seminars, leads women’s and couples support groups, and is widely published in the fertility field.