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Common Misconceptions About Conception

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Common Misconceptions About Conception

There was a time when women wishing to get pregnant might try drinking a potion made with powdered wolf's penis. Alternately, she could wear a charm made from a quail's heart. If that didn't work, she could take to the garden and plant a rosemary bush or head to the nearest mall and buy someone a gift of silverware, and of course, during all of this, it would be a very bad idea to sweep under the bed. (DiscoveryHealth)

Getting pregnant is something couples have struggled with for decades, and even centuries. And many a couple will do just about anything they can after a while to obtain a pregnancy.

What’s terrible though, is that there is so much information, good and bad, available on the internet informing couples on just how to do that successfully. It’s difficult to know what’s good advice and what is not.

Did it really hurt any of those couples centuries ago to follow superstitions and old wives’ tales regarding conception? No, probably not. But it didn’t help them either.

When conceiving a child is something SO important in the lives of a couple that they are turning to anyone for help, the last thing they want to do is to get their hope up over misconceptions and other fallacies that are just wasting their time.

They want real advice on getting pregnant successfully so they can get on with their lives and their families.

Well, this article isn’t going to tell you how to do it successfully. That will come in another article.

What’s important though, is that along the way, you don’t fall for the mistaken beliefs of others and waste the valuable time that you have, when you could be doing it right from the beginning.

I wanted to uncover some of those delusions here, so that you can know the truth about conception.

Quick Poll

Just Do It a Couple Times a Week

This is problem one of the big ones. Regardless of anything else you do, just keep up the good fight and make sure you are being intimate with your spouse every day to every other day, and one day it will come.

This is something many doctors will tell you, in fact, my doctor told me this. You would expect this from your mom or your best friend, but from a doctor you expect so much more.

You can have sex 10 times a day and it won't result in pregnancy unless it's timed to coincide with ovulation. And even if you've timed things correctly, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reports that a major study found no difference in pregnancy rates between couples who had sex daily and those who had sex every other day. (Parents)

The truth is, even if you are making sure that your intimacy is frequent enough that you’re sure you’ll catch the right day and time by chance, you could still be skipping right over your most fertile period, and the most critical time for getting pregnant.

If you are not paying attention to your cycle, charting your critical fertility signs, and getting to know your body, you may truly never know when it’s the right time, and may never achieve the goal you want so badly.

To top it off, frequent intimacy, rather than intimacy at the right time, may just be lowering your spouse’s sperm count, slowly down progress, and making it more difficult to get pregnant when it indeed is the right time.

Think specific timing, and not frequency, for success.

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Try Different Positions

Many experts suggest that any position that involves the woman laying on her back during intercourse will insure that her spouse’s sperm get to their destination that much easier.

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I mean, obviously, if she is in an upright position, those little critters are just going to slide right back out right? Absolutely not.

Once again, your bodies are designed to do this naturally. This has more to do with the woman’s cervical fluid at the time of intimacy, her spouse’s sperm count and mobility, and whether your body is ready to get pregnant.

Clearly, it won’t hurt if you are trying to make the process easier for the sperm to reach the egg. If it makes you feel better, feel free to lie on your back, or even put a pillow under your hips during intimacy, as this can only help and not hurt your chances.

But in reality, if all critical conditions are met biologically and physically for the women to get pregnant, it’s in God’s hands after that. No position is going to affect your chances of getting pregnant.

Lay On Your Back for 15 Minutes Afterward

For a woman trying to get pregnant, I would not suggest jumping up and down, Kegel exercises, or even urination immediately after intercourse, but it is not necessary to lie down for any period of time afterwards.

This is one of those myths that even though you know it isn’t true, it still makes you feel better to do it anyway.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The sperm are traveling upwards and inwards. If you stand up, or push down, as they are trying to go the other direction, you would think that this would impede this important journey of theirs, making it more difficult to conceive.

So if it makes you feel better, stay there. It won’t hurt. Put that pillow under your hips. Chill out and enjoy the experience. Intimacy with your spouse is a beautiful thing that shouldn’t be rushed.

But don’t put yourself out trying to follow any rules. Do what feels right to you.

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Just Relax and Stop Worrying

As my husband and I are in the process of trying to conceive (TTC) right now, this is probably one of the most annoying things anyone can possibly say, but seems to be the most frequent.

I feel like telling everyone to take their own advice and stop stressing. Life would be much easier for them too!

As good as this sounds, there is no real research to support this fact. While stressing may delay your ovulation by a few days or weeks, it won’t impede your ability to get pregnant.

Try not stressing about something you’ve wanted more than anything else in life that you are struggling with, especially with everyone breathing down your back to not stress about it.

I feel like I have to tell my husband this on a daily basis about his job, his golf game, etc. However, that probably doesn’t help either. Why should it be any different with conceiving?

People also tell me to stop thinking about it and then it will happen. However, thinking about it is all you can do. Turning down your stress certainly can’t hurt, for any reason you might have in life.

But if thinking about it means that you are charting every day, getting to know your body and your cycles, and being intelligent about this big decision in life, this will actually help you to achieve your goal. (Discovery Health)

I wish I knew what you should say to those people that tell you to stop stressing and stop thinking about it. I always have a few choice words that I could share, but I’ll keep them to myself.

Ovulation Tests Are Reliable

This is another one of those great suggestions made to me by my wonderful doctor (whom I really need to change). Just get an ovulation predictor or two and it will tell you when you are most fertile.

These were a huge joke between my husband and me for the longest time.

We have tried out a variety of these predictors over the course of the last couple of years, and every one of them tells me that I am ovulating all the time, all month long. Isn’t that awesome! Lol

And it’s not like they’re hard to use. They’re just like a pregnancy test. You pee on the stick and it tells you whether or not you are ovulating at the moment, or soon to ovulate.

Some are even better and offer you a color chart to compare your color that comes up to. These are the greatest, especially when your color matches half of the ones on the card and needs a professional interior designer to distinguish. Yea!

Don’t trust your fertility, and the future of your family to an over the counter ovulation predictor. You have the ability to accurately predict your own fertility without the need of expensive but worthless grocery store predictors.

Charting, charting, charting!! We’ll get to that another day, in another article.

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Common Misconceptions About Conception

A Woman is Fertile Any Time During the Month

Not true! Women are only fertile the few days around ovulation. In fact, a human egg can only survive 12-24 hours after being released from the ovary, and thus the only reason women are considered fertile for longer than 24 hours is because sperm can live for up to five days IF fertile quality cervical fluid is present. Interestingly enough, it is men who are always fertile! (TCOYF)

A woman has three different times during her cycle, and these can come at all different times for different women.

Doctors and other medical professionals have been taught that women with normal cycles ovulate at the same time (on Day 14) and have identical cycle lengths (28 days). Obviously since we are all made exactly the same and all of our bodies function exactly the same way, we all have our periods at exactly the same time and ovulate at the same time, right?

Even I know that sounds ridiculous, no matter how much you know about a woman’s fertility.

These three critical periods are a non-fertile stage, a fertile stage, and menstruation. However, these all happen differently for every woman.

This means that for much of the month, there are no eggs available to be fertilized, and therefore you will not get pregnant. Only for a few days each month will your body have released an egg, and will it be available for sperm in your system to fertilize it.

Like I mentioned above though, as sperm can live in a fertile environment for up to five days, the length of time in which you can get pregnant is stretched a bit.

If you are charting your cycles, taking your temperature and documenting other critical fertility signs throughout the month, you will know exactly when you are fertile and more likely to get pregnant, and when you are not.

You Can Choose the Gender of Your Child

Many people have outlandish theories on how to choose the gender of your child before conception. They range from different foods that you can eat (both man and woman), different positions you should try, different days of the week and days of the month to be intimate, different times of the day that are more successful, and even different products to try during intimacy.

Unfortunately no one can “choose” the gender of their unborn baby and have any identifiable effect on it. There is nothing that has been proven in science that tells us that this is possible, unless of course you are using medicine to assist you in the conception of your baby (and that doesn’t count).

Although, there are many scientists that have stated that timing your intercourse closer to the release of your egg COULD give you a better chance at having boy, and that being intimate a couple of days before ovulation in the missionary style COULD give the faster moving girl gendered sperm a better chance.

Keep in mind though, that trying to guarantee the gender of your child beforehand has a 50/50 chance of leaving you very disappointed, which could very easily transfer to the child during child rearing.

It’s great to think that you might have the chance to have an effect on whether you have a boy or a girl, and I highly encourage you to go for it if you wish to throw your dice in there, but cherish the blessing of having a healthy baby when the time comes.

After all, what really counts is that you have a baby to call your own, right?

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Common Misconceptions About Conception

Of course, I have not come anywhere near exhausting the endless list of myths surrounding the incredible beauty of conceiving a child.

There are so many more superstitions and misconceptions regarding drinking Mountain Dew, taking Robitussin, standing on your head after intercourse, facing a particular direction before, during or afterwards, etc.

You could drink the recommended teas, eat the right foods suggested, and even try acupuncture. However the real success comes not in old wives’ tales, but in true awareness of your body and your cycles, and in the science of it all.

The key is providing sperm to healthy available eggs at the right time. Get that one down, and you’ve got it right.

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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness


Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 17, 2014:

lol That's pretty funny. You're absolutely right! We have facts we can base our practices on, but we are still relying on these superstitions. You know why? Because this is what we are being told by our doctors!

Where do you think I got many of these, much less the motivation to write this article?! My gynecologist was telling me these things!

Thank you so much for your stories and your input! :)

Mackenzie Sage Wright on January 17, 2014:

Pregnancy worries are in my past, lol. The baby factory is closed here. But I remember hearing so many of these every time we were trying. It's amazing how myths and old wive's tales can prevail despite the solid, factual information at our fingertips. Sad to say my mother still believes some of these and will bring them up in conversation. I just roll my eyes.

Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 16, 2014:

? So you WERE pregnant!! Congrats! Maybe there's some truth to having the last drops in a bottle.

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on January 16, 2014:

Yes.... I did... I was desperate. In fact, I had the last drops of two bottles. I remember, we had a party at school in Brussels. I don't think there was connection of finally being pregnant and that.... and I didn't had twins ;-)

Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 16, 2014:

There are some really strange myths about getting pregnant, but sometimes the old wives' tales are fun to do when you are jumping into something fun like starting a family. Tell me you didn't try for the last drop in the bottle? :)

Thanks for the great comment!!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on January 16, 2014:

There are so many strange beliefs about how to get pregnant that I prefer to rely on science! One of the beliefs that was getting around in Belgium at the time my husband and I tried to be pregnant was that you had to get the last drop of the bottle of wine.... don't ask me from what that comes from.... I have no clue :-)

Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 16, 2014:

Good, I'm glad. Coming from the man who wrote about what it takes to be a good writer, that means a lot. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 16, 2014:

You write a good article, Victoria. Even though it doesn't apply to me, it is a pleasure reading good writing.

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