Dr Georgiana Tang, Medical Director at City Fertility Centre debunks the most common fertility myths.
I’m fit so I will fall pregnant easily
You may be fit, but there are so many more factors that impact your level of fertility. Things like your age (fertility declines with age); lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol and stress can have a negative impact); medical conditions (common ones are PCOS and endometriosis); and harmful toxins (crop pesticides, paints and diesel fumes to name a couple), all play an important role.
The male’s health isn’t that important when trying to conceive
The male’s reproductive health is actually as important as the female’s and also contributes towards optimising the chances of a healthy baby. Pregnancy needs a healthy sperm and egg to succeed. Healthy sperm should have these qualities: good sperm count; good sperm motility; a good shape and no blockages in the reproductive ducts. Disturbances can be caused by hormonal problems, blockages, genetic problems, lifestyle issues and more. Studies have shown that 30 per cent of infertility is due to the male factor.
I will still have lots of eggs to fall pregnant with until I reach menopause
Women are born with a finite number of eggs that reduce gradually with age. While older women can still have some good quality eggs there will just be a lot fewer of them, hence reducing your chances of success. Conception rates for normal, healthy couples are, at best, 20-25 per cent per menstrual cycle. Once a woman reaches the age of 35, her fertility (egg quality and quantity) begins to decline and by age 40, it is estimated that her conception rate is in the range of 8-10 per cent a month, at age 43 this rate is thought to be as low as 1-3 per cent a month. A man’s fertility also declines gradually from the age of 38.
During and just after ovulation is the best time to fall pregnant
You are actually most fertile during the few days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation, as this is when the egg has been released into the fallopian tube and is ready for fertilisation. The egg can survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation, while sperm can survive for up to two days and fertilise an egg in the fallopian tubes. You should take advantage of this window of fertility by having unprotected sex every day or every second day. This will give you the greatest chance of achieving conception.
I’m young so it will be easy to conceive
While the younger you try to fall pregnant is a positive factor as your egg and sperm quantity should be higher, optimal health is equally important for couples trying to conceive – and making sure you are not overweight or underweight is a key factor to consider.
For women, ovulation can be impacted by being either underweight or overweight, and studies have shown that bringing BMI within the normal range can ensure ovulation begins to occur normally, thus increasing chances of pregnancy. Low or high BMI has also been associated with the production of immature eggs when an IVF cycle has started, and this can impact on successful IVF outcomes.
It’s also very important for men to ensure a healthy BMI, and studies have consistently linked obesity to a lower sperm count because, in those who are overweight, testosterone levels drop while estrogen amounts rise.
This article was written by Dr Georgiana Tang, Medical Director at City Fertility Centre, and has been reproduced with permission.
Got more fertility questions? Contact City Fertility Centre.