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.

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