Fertility and pregnancy planning – the myths

Trying to get pregnant should be the most natural thing in the world, but for some of us its just not that easy.  The  sexual health charity FPA are trying to raise awareness about how little people actually know about their own fertility and how this can cause them unnecessary stress and expense when trying for a baby.  Here, they have identified just some of the many myths and misunderstandings about fertility and planning a pregnancy.

I must have sex on the day of ovulation in order to get pregnant.

Fact: Sperm can survive for up to 7 days in the womb. If you have sex two to three times a week around the time of ovulation there should always be some sperm waiting to meet the egg when it’s released.

We have to use a specific sexual position in order to get pregnant.

Fact: However you have sex – as long as sperm is ejaculated into the vagina – you have an equal chance of getting pregnant.

Men can run out of sperm if they ejaculate too often.

Fact: Men with good reproductive health are producing sperm in a continual 70-day cycle so they can’t run out.

I can get pregnant every time I have sex.

Fact: An egg can only be fertilised within 24 hours of being released from an ovary.  This will normally happen around 10-16 days before the start of the next period.  Therefore, each month because of sperm survival there’s around a week during which an egg can be fertilized.

Fertility takes time to return when you stop using contraception

Fact: Fertility returns immediately once contraception is no longer used. The only exception is the contraceptive injection where fertility can take up to a year to return.

All fertile couples get pregnant within 6 months.

Fact: Out of 100 couples trying for a baby, typically 30 will conceive within 1 month, 75 within 6 months, 80-90 within 1 year, the remaining 10-20 will take longer or may need help to get pregnant.

I have irregular periods so there is nothing I can do to predict the time at which I am most fertile.

Fact: Tracking your body temperature after you wake from sleep (sleep that has lasted at least 3 hours – this is called your basal body temperature) may help you detect when you have ovulated.  This is because your basal temperature dips slightly before ovulation and rises afterwards. Monitoring cervical mucus and changes in the cervix will also give good indications when ovulation is about to occur, as will ovulation predictor tests, which you can purchase online or in chemists.

As part of its mission to make us more aware about our own fertility, The FPA has produced a Fertility Awareness Kit which contains information, guidance, folic acid, pregnancy tests and ovulation sticks.

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Photo Credit: FPA

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