If only having a baby was as simple as most people think it is. Unfortunately, for the couples struggling to achieve pregnancy, they know it’s not just about intercourse and instant conception. What you might not realize though, is that in some cases, you could be going about your journey to having or expanding your family the wrong way.
Here are some of the mistakes you’re making while trying to grow your family:
- Assuming you know what's wrong, or who’s to blame instead of seeing an infertility specialist.
- You believe old wives tales such as having sex in certain positions will get you pregnant.
- Using a sperm killing lubricant.
- Making ill-advised life choices.
- You believe you just need to have sex more frequently.
- Having sex while you're ovulation window is closed.
- You're waiting too long to seek the help of a fertility doctor.
Mistake #1 - Making assumptions about who or what is the cause of your infertility
Making assumptions is perhaps the fastest path to frustration while trying to conceive. As many as 1 in 8 couples has trouble getting pregnant, or bringing a pregnancy to term. The reality is that there are several causes for infertility, and you won’t know which ones are causing your individual problems until you meet with an infertility specialist.
Causes of infertility in women:
In many cases of female infertility it’s related to ovulation, malfunctions in the fallopian tubes or uterus, or a problem with the cervix. Of course, this can also be related to age, hormonal imbalances, genetic disorders, and any other number of factors.
Causes of male infertility:
As women aren’t the only participants in making a baby, they aren’t the only cause of infertility. Just a few of the reasons a male could be infertile include:
- Swelling or blockage in the testicles
- Infections or disease
- Genetic disorders
- Hormonal imbalance
- Low sperm count or limited fluids ejaculated
There are tests your doctor can perform to see what the underlying cause may be. Therefore, don’t assume and place blame. Instead, get the facts and then work together on finding the solution.
Mistake #2 - Relying on old wives tales to get pregnant.
Superstitions about fertility and how to get pregnant are abundant. The world of mythology alone is filled with examples of women getting pregnant simply with a look or a touch. Although people want to believe in the magic of them, the old wives tales listed below have no better chance of getting you pregnant than praying to goddess fortuna to win the lottery would make you a millionaire.
- Moonstone - Moonstones are believed to be associated with ovulation. The legend is that you should place one on the windowsill overnight so it soaks the power of the moon. Then, if you carry it with you or wear it, you’ll get pregnant instantly.
- Honey - Honey was given to the god of fertility by the Egyptians as an offering. Considered by many cultures as a booster for love and sexual prowess, honey mixed with cinnamon allegedly boosts blood flow to your reproductive organs, thereby making you more fertile.
- Rosemary - Rosemary is one of the herbs that brides have been known to wear on their heads during their wedding ceremonies in hopes of bringing good luck and fertility. The tale here is if you wear it in a pouch during intercourse, and then leave the pouch under your pillow, the rosemary will definitely weave its magic from your bed to your uterus.
- Keep a statue of the fertility goddess in your home - It is believed by some people that physical contact with a fertility goddess statue will increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Have sex in certain positions - This belief is that the angle of intercourse can impact whether or not you get pregnant. Others believe that if a female lays down and has intercourse, she should then lift her legs in the air keeping them there for 20 minutes. This elevation of the legs after intercourse will supposedly force the sperm where it should go.
- Insert an egg white into the vagina - To this point most of these old wives tales have been rather harmless. However, we have to point out the dangers of infection and bacteria here. Of all of these old wives tales, please don’t try this one!
A few other old wives tales include:
- Eating an entire pineapple before intercourse
- Rocking an empty cradle
- Hang out with pregnant women or pregnant animals
- Hire a Feng Shui decorator to properly place your belongings
- Drink meade on your honeymoon
- Meditate and visualize your womb filling with child
Mistake #3 - You’re using a sperm killing lubricant
Using a lubricant is common practice during intercourse, but did you know that some lubricants on the market have spermicide in them? Spermicide can prevent pregnancy by killing or immobilizing sperm. It’s one of the reasons condoms have spermicide - manufacturers wanted to have additional protection to prevent pregnancies for their customers.
Whether you use a cream, jelly or a water-based lubricant, if you’re trying to achieve pregnancy, it’s a good idea to check the label and make sure there’s no spermicide in it.
Mistake #4 - You’re making ill-advised life choices
Your life choices can have an impact on your ability or inability to conceive. This is true for both men and women, as their life choices can cause a variety of problems that can impede sexual organs and performance. Below are just a few of the life choices that can cause infertility in some couples:
- Excess intake of caffeine: Not only can caffeine negatively affect your ability to conceive, it can also increase your odds of having a miscarriage. So, if you need multiple cups of tea, coffee or soda to get through the day, it might be time to cut back before trying for a baby.
- Poor diet: A healthy diet can aid you in getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients leading up to your conception, and maintaining a healthy diet can help you successfully bring the pregnancy to term. Having a well balanced diet can also help you to maintain healthy pH levels in your body.
- You want a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, healthy fats, plenty of protein, whole grains, and fruit.
- Being overweight or underweight: It is imperative to have a healthy weight as you attempt to conceive. This is critical not just for women, but also for men. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that there is a clear link between obesity and erectile dysfunction.
- The NCBI also notes that “obese women had a higher rate of recurrent, early miscarriage compared to non-obese women.”
- Men who are underweight are at a risk for infertility because they tend to have a lower sperm count.
- For women, being underweight and having extremely low amounts of body fat are associated with ovarian dysfunction and infertility.
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking other illicit substances
- According to the Mayo Clinic, “Smoking ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely….Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation disorders.”
- Illegal substances such as marijuana can decrease sperm count, and affect the size and shape of your sperm. Abnormal sperm has difficulty penetrating the egg at the right time. Harder drugs like heroin and cocaine can cause erectile dysfunction, deplete sperm count, and cause sperm to be immobile.
- Over exercising: It might seem counterintuitive to take it easy while trying to get pregnant, or during a pregnancy. On the other hand, the Mayo Clinic stated “Too much vigorous physical activity can inhibit ovulation and reduce production of the hormone progesterone. If you have a healthy weight and you're thinking of becoming pregnant soon, consider limiting vigorous physical activity to less than five hours a week. If you're overweight, ask your healthcare provider how much physical activity is OK.”
- Prevent illness as much as possible: Though we might not be able to avoid being around people that have the flu, it’s a good idea to stay as healthy as you can while trying to conceive, and once you get pregnant. Fevers, chills, and other symptoms can wreak havoc on your body, and subsequently the fetus if you’re pregnant. Consult with your doctor about immunity boosting supplements.
- Traveling while pregnant: Babymoons may be all the rage, but you shouldn’t fly after 36 weeks into your pregnancy. In fact, if you plan on any travel while pregnant, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. This is especially true if your pregnancy is considered high risk.
Mistake #5 - Simply increasing the amount of intercourse you’re engaging in
While at first having additional intercourse in hopes of becoming pregnant may seem fun, some couples report that after awhile it feels more like work than a pleasurable act. It is true that a woman can get pregnant the very first time she has sex, but another woman could have sex multiple times a day, every single day and never conceive.
Just like a clogged pipe can experience difficulty allowing water to flow until you dislodge the problem, when there is interference with any of the sexual organs, no amount of additional intercourse can force them to do what you want them to.
That being said, the best time to have intercourse is while a woman is ovulating. The sad reality is that if a woman is not ovulating, no matter how much you increase your sexual activity, a woman cannot conceive. Which points to the mistake on this list.
Mistake #6 - Having sex when you’re not ovulating
Now that you know you must have sex while the female is ovulating, how do you know when ovulation is occuring? Many couples don’t actually know when that window is open.
On average, ovulation occurs sometime around day 12 or 13 of your cycle, but this can vary from woman to woman. In fact, some women are most fertile on day 8 or 9, and others as late as day 20. How can you know which time is best for you?
One common option is to use an over the counter ovulation predictor test. Much like a pregnancy test will tell you if you’re pregnant, an ovulation predictor can tell you when you’re ovulating. Of course, if you are pregnant, the ovulation predictor test won’t work. The way they work is by detecting your levels of LH hormone in your urine. When you’re nearing ovulation, your LH levels will spike. Roughly 36 hours after this spike, ovulation occurs.
The trouble with these over the counter predictors is that they can get expensive if you are using them every month. Then again, if you have irregular periods, it could be helpful to let you know each month when you’re ovulating so you know the best times to have intercourse for better odds of conception.
Another well known, but less favored option is to do a basal body temperature charting. Every morning upon waking, before you get out of bed, you would take your temperature. The basal body temperature is the temperature your body is at when at complete rest. When you’re ovulating the hormone progesterone increases your basal body temperature. So, the idea is that once you’re noticing a spike in your temperature upon waking, you’re probably ovulating.
The problem with temperature tracking is it can be hard to remember to do it before getting out of bed. Perhaps that is why fertility bracelets and apps that track ovulation are becoming more popular these days.
Additional ways that aren’t necessarily the best methods for predicting ovulation include:
- Paying attention to your cervical mucus quality, color and consistency: Many women don’t know how to track this, or what to look for
- An increased sexual desire: this could be attributed to a variety of things
- Tender breasts: this can be caused by many factors including fertility drug treatments
- Ferning patterns in your saliva: you’ll need to buy a specialized microscope for this
Some women aren’t ovulating at all, or are ovulating irregularly.
This is where working with a fertility doctor can come in handy. When you’re struggling to get pregnant, all of the things you need to track to try and increase your odds of conception can feel overwhelming. But, are you waiting too long to seek help? If so you’re making mistake #7.
Mistake #7 - Waiting too long to seek an infertility specialist
You should make an appointment to see an infertility specialist if:
- You are under 35, of reproductive age, and have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year
- You are over 35, and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months
- If you’re female with a disorder cush as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- You are male or female and have a genetic disorder, hormonal imbalance or a disease
- You’ve had three or more miscarriages or abortions
Don’t wait too long to seek help. The longer you wait the lower your chances are of being able to achieve pregnancy. As we age, both men and women will struggle even more with fertility issues.
The sooner you can find out what is preventing your ability to get pregnant, the more time you’ll have to address the issue, and the better your chances of starting or growing your family. To schedule an appoint or to learn more about the Center of Reproductive Medicine, click here.