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10 little-known fertility facts

Dr. Jean Twenge dispels some myths about babymaking in her new book, "The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant."

Dr. Jean Twenge dispels some myths about babymaking in her new book, "The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant." In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, we're sharing some of her findings.



1. If you can predict your ovulation, you can get pregnant very quickly -- usually within three months -- even if you're over 35. Many sites say you have only a 5 percent to 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle, but you can increase those odds considerably by keeping track of ovulation.

2. The day of ovulation is not the most fertile day of the cycle. The two days before ovulation are the most fertile. This means that the instructions for ovulation predictor kits and fertility monitors are off by a day.

3. The statistic that one-third of women over 35 will have fertility issues is based on a study of birth records from 1700s rural France -- a time before modern medicine, birth control and possibly soap. Studies of more recent populations find that only 18 percent were not pregnant within a year, and that about half of these women will get pregnant in the second year of trying.

4. You won't decrease your chances of getting pregnant by "trying too hard" or worrying about your fertility. Stress has to be pretty extreme before it affects fertility.

5. Even so, stressing about fertility is no fun. To keep your sanity, you'll want to use some stress-busting techniques. For example, learn the technique of controlling your breathing to make yourself calm when you start to freak out.

6. The best diet for fertility follows the acronym SOS: spinach (representing vegetables, fruits and whole grains), olives (for the olive oil, nuts and fish of a Mediterranean diet) and salmon (for lean protein, especially fish high in omega-3 fatty acids).

7. Tests of "egg count" (FSH, AMH, Plan Ahead or ultrasounds for ovarian reserve) are virtually useless for predicting whether you can get pregnant naturally. Your egg count predicts how many eggs doctors might be able to retrieve during fertility treatments such as IVF, but research shows it doesn't matter much for getting pregnant at home as long as you're still having regular cycles.

8. The usual advice about how to conceive a boy versus a girl (having sex far from ovulation if you want a girl and close if you want a boy) is wrong. According to the latest research studies, the opposite timing actually works better.

9. Some supposedly fertility-enhancing supplements you may have heard about online or in books can actually make fertility worse instead of better. (Two examples are Vitex/chasteberry and L-arginine.)

10. Other vitamins and supplements do enhance fertility -- specifically folic acid, moderate amounts of vitamin B6 and omega-3 fish oil.