Common misconceptions and myths about fertility

Here are the 7 most common misconceptions and myths I hear my patients say about fertility and getting pregnant.

1. ‘I am 35 years old and there is no need to worry about getting pregnant until much later on.”

No matter how you look at it, from a biologic point of view the best time to get pregnant and havea baby is well before the age of 35. At birth, a woman has 7 million eggs, and at puberty around age 13-14, when she starts to ovulate, about 95% of these egs have already disappeared. At puberty there are about 350,000 to 400,000 eggs left. Over the next 30 or so years, about 400 to 500 eggs will be released, but many more disappear each month and every year a woman will have significantly less eggs, which means her ovarian reserve declines and so does her egg quality, in the late 20s, again in the 30s and then most notably after age 35.

2. ‘I am 42 years old and should be fine because all the women in my family had babies well into their 40s.’

Family fertility is part of taking the history during treatment. it can neither help nor hinder fertility potential. Previous successful pregnancies also do not signify a bump-free conception route.

A woman’s fertility decreases after 35, and when she turns 40, there is a less than 5% chance she will get pregnant in any given month (compared with 20% at age 30). Her ability to get pregnant decreases because there are less eggs available as a woman gets older and her eggs have a lower quality and they are less likely to be fertilized and implant.

3. ‘Why should he get tested? He is already a dad.’
About 50% of infertile couples have a male fertility issue. So the very first infertility test done on her and him should be a spermanalysis. As men get older, their fertility decreases too and as men get older healthy sperm and volume overall will decrease. In addition, researchers have reported a direct link between a father’s age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia.

4. ‘I may be a little overweight, but that should be fine.’

Your are overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 30, and you are obese if the BMI is over 30. When a woman or a man is overweight or obese, hormones change in the body and that can affect ovulation in women and and semen production in men. In addition, pregnant women who are overweight and obese have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy such as more miscarriages, preterm births, diabetes, hypertension, and more cesareans. Losing weight before pregnancy improves your chances getting pregnant and have a healthy baby.

5. ‘A little smoking before pregnancy is OK as long as I stop when I am pregnant.’

Smoking negatively affects his and her fertility, even if you smoke as little as five cigarettes a day. And it increases your chances of lung disease and cancer. So better stop now before you are pregnant.

6. ‘Our chances getting pregnant improves if we have sex several times a day 24 hours before or after ovulation.’

Your chances getting pregnant are nearly zero if you have sex after ovulation. Ovulation usually happens about 14 days before your next period, and to improve your chances getting pregnant you should have sex no more than once a day every 1-2 days during the 6 days before and the day of ovulation. Calculate your fertile days HERE.

7. ‘I will start folic acid and my supplements as soon as the pregnancy test is positive.’

Women should take folic acid to prevent certain birth defects, but it only works if you start taking it at least 1-2 months before you get pregnant. It’s too late to prevent birth defects if you start taking it after a positive pregnancy test. In addition, men can boots their fertility by taking supplements too, especially coenzyme Q10 has also been found to increase sperm count and sperm motility, and vitamin E which improves low sperm count

What diet can I use to increase my chances having twins?

Question:

I have a perfect 6 month old daughter and we will start ttc next month. I will be 37 in August and would LOVE to have twins. I have been eating diet to increase chances for twins (as well as male)

My questions are:

1. Many say to wait until as close to ovulation to conceive male so we were going to try that. However, will that decrease likelihood
of twins? in other words, do you have a better chance of twins if you have sex each of the 5 days of fetility?

2. Wth respect to diet, how far in advance should you start or is it just during the time ttc/ovulation?

Dr.Amos answers:

You are asking some interesting questions. There are two different kind of twins: Monozygotic and dizygotic twins.

Monozygotic twins are twins from a conception with one egg and one sperm. The fertilized egg then spits after conception. Monozygotic twins are also known as ‘identical twins’ or maternal twins.

Dizygotic twins are twins achieved from conception of two different eggs with two different sperms. These are also known as non-dentical or fraternal twins.

There is no way to increase your chances of monozygotic twins. They happen spontaneously in about 1 in 250 pregnancies.

For dizygotic twins, there must be two diferent ovulations with two different eggs. There is no evidence that you can increase your chances ovulating twice with either food or different kinds of sex. More sex or sex at different times will not make you ovulate more (or less).

Fertility drugs or IVF in-vitro fertilization increases the chances of having twins, but it would not be ethical to increase the chances of twins intentionally, because twins are associated with increased pregnancy risks especially premature births.