8 Infertility Myths You Can Stop Worrying About

Updated: Feb. 09, 2017

No, nerves are not keeping you from getting pregnant, yes your man can wear briefs, and others baby-making falsehoods we set straight.

iStock/Abel Mitja Varela

Myth: Infertility is a ladies-only condition

Nope. About 35 percent of all infertility cases treated in the United States are caused by a female problem, but just as many—as in 35 percent—can be traced to a male issue. Both partners together cause 20 percent of the cases, and the remaining 10 percent are due to unknown causes.


Myth: Stress is why you’re not conceiving

It’s kind of the other way: Not getting pregnant is likely why you’re stressed, but it’s definitely not the cause of it. “Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system,” says Barbara Collura, President/CEO, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association; it’s not a psychological disorder. That said, if you want to book a full-body massage or, even better, a Caribbean vacation to help you relax, by all means. It may certainly improve your overall well-being, but it isn’t going to get you pregnant any faster. Or just give one of these stress management tips a try.


Myth: So many couples make babies in no time

Those are the ones you hear about—your friend who ooops-conceived right after her honeymoon or your sister who decided one day to start a family and got preggers the next. They’re not lying; for some women, it happens like that. But what you should also realize is that more than 5 million people of childbearing age in America experience infertility, according to RESOLVE. “That’s one in eight couples who may not be as public about it as your pregnant friends,” says Collura.


Myth: Patience will get you pregnant

Certain conditions and health factors can impact a couples ability to make a baby. If either one of you smoke, for example, your chances of conceiving are lower. For women, being under- or overweight or excessive alcohol use may make it difficult to get pregnant. And of course, age is a big one: A healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine; by age 40, the chances drop to about 5 percent a month. The virtue of patience is nowhere on that list. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year or more, ask about an infertility evaluation, suggests the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. For women older than 35 years old, the “trying” time is reduced to 6 months before considering seeing a specialist.


Myth: Men are forever fertile

It’s true that some guys become new daddies in their golden years, but research suggests men’s biological clocks tick, too. British researchers evaluated more than 8,500 couples and found that while only 8 percent of men younger than age 25 did not get their partner pregnant after a year of trying, that number nearly doubled to 15 percent after age 35.


Myth: You have to orgasm to conceive

Consider it more of an added bonus: the uterine contractions an orgasm causes may help move sperm in your egg’s direction. But it’s not a must when it comes to making a baby. (Sorry.) You know what else isn’t necessary? Lifting your legs straight up after sex. The idea behind this one: holding up your legs tips the pelvis and helps gravity route the sperm directly to its’ baby-making destination. But the acrobatics really aren’t necessary. Every ejaculation contains millions and millions of those speedy little swimmers that are chemically programmed to aim for your eggs. If you want to give as many of them a fighting chance a possible, you could stay horizontal for a little while so no semen leaks out. But the handstands you can skip. These are other myths about sex everyone thinks are true.


Myth: Tighty-whities are sperm killers

Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook examined 97 men with infertility to see if boxers versus briefs made a difference. The concern: Sperm don’t like it hot, and snug underwear could overheat the testicles, where sperm is produced. The study showed an average of less than half of a degree Fahrenheit in temperature of the scrotum, where testes are located, between men who wore one underwear type or the other, with a margin of error larger than the difference. “It is unlikely that underwear type has a significant effect on male fertility,” wrote the authors. Heat from your laptop, however, has been shown to damage sperm count; and its wireless connection may cause DNA damage and less motility in sperm, according to a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Here are other surprising ways technology can make you sick.


Myth: Being on the Pill too long hurts fertility later

No it won’t. In fact, it won’t even delay your pregnancy once you get off birth control. A large European study on oral contraceptives followed more than 2,000 women who had been using birth control for seven years, and stopped taking it to try and get pregnant. Scientists found about 20 percent conceived in their first fertile month. Of those who didn’t conceive right away, nearly 80 percent were pregnant within a year. The median time to conception was three months. These numbers are pretty much the same as for non-birth-control-pill users. In other words, you are as likely to conceive if you used birth control in the past as a woman who has never used hormonal contraceptives.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest