You know what drives me CRAZY?! All the weird advice people give women who are trying to conceive. Practitioners in the fertility field do our best to educate, but some fertility myths just won’t die.
I thought I’d do my part by putting together a list of some of the worst offenders, starting with the ones that really make me scratch my head, like …
Yams first got their rep as a twin-maker after researchers started looking into why the African village of Igbo-Ora has one of the highest rates of twin births in the world–as many as 1 in 22 live births is a set of twins. This number is about 4% higher than anywhere else in the world. This is a remarkable phenomenon, but nobody seems to be quite sure why this town should be more twin prone than anywhere else on earth.
One theoretical cause behind these statistics? YAMS. Some scientists speculate that the high number of yams consumed by this town’s population is what causes the high rate of twin births, but because the same type of yams are eaten elsewhere in the world without the same effect, the cause is likely genetic. Listen, I’m definitely not saying *don’t* eat yams … you actually should! They contain antioxidants, they aid in the regular bowel movements, they are a GREAT source of vitamins C and B6 … just bank on the fact that you’ll get knocked up with twins!
The logic behind this is that lifting your legs in the air will tip your pelvis upwards and help your partner’s little swimmers get a direct route to your eggs. In reality, your legs are going to go numb, you’re going to look a little silly, and it most certainly will NOT help you get pregnant. Sperm are chemically programmed to travel directly to your baby-making eggs by way of specifically designed swimming lanes that appear in your cervical fluid only during your ovulation period, regardless of what position you’re in. Consider this: each ejaculates releases between 40 – 240 *million* sperm. So … if a little leaks out after you’ve had sex, there’s plenty more where that came from.
In the early 1900’s, doctors recommended orgasms as a treatment for infertility, claiming that the vaginal contractions caused by orgasm would suck the semen up through the cervix and deliver it quickly to the egg. Though there is evidence that this is true for certain animals (pigs, for instance), a more recent study done on human women demonstrated no evidence that orgasms caused semen to be sucked up into the uterus any faster than it would be normally.
The key to getting pregnant is timing intercourse to correspond with your fertile period and ovulation … not having an orgasm (although it sure makes trying more fun!). And you know how I feel about women experiencing regular orgasms! (Check out my blog post 5 Health Benefits of Orgasms for Women to find out more), but it’s not totally necessary when trying to conceive.
Yeah, people actually try that. Why? Because in a 1982 study, guaifenesin—a common ingredient found in cough syrup—was considered a potential fertility booster for its ability to thin cervical mucus (in the same way it thins the mucus in your nasal passages), thereby allowing easier travel for sperm to get to your eggs.
Consider this: there have been ZERO studies that have proven this to be true, and swallowing cough syrup also means you may be taking in other not-so-good things for your fertility like antihistamines. This one makes me particularly mad—I feel like it hangs around because so many women are so desperate to conceive they’ll try just about ANYTHING. But there are better ways!
Instead of cough syrup, here are a few natural options to help thin your cervical mucus: STAY HYDRATED—your cervical mucus consists of about 90% water, so being dehydrated with thicken it. TRY EVENING PRIMROSE OIL—a herbal supplement containing a fatty acid called GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid). The human body converts GLA into prostaglandins, which may enhance the production of fertile cervical mucus. EAT ALKALINE VEGETABLES—sperm cells thrive in alkaline (high pH) environments. The pH of your cervical mucus is a result of the overall pH level in your body, which in turn is largely a result of your diet. Dark green vegetables, onions, lima beans, almonds and most fruits are great alkaline foods. Please share widely—friends don’t let friends drink cough syrup to get pregnant!
So that’s it for the super weird (and eye-roll-inducing) myths—but there’s more! Check out next week’s post where I’ll cover some of the sneakier myths out there, including some that you may have heard from trusted sources (including your doctor!).
Looking to have a more in-depth conversation about your fertility? Schedule a consultation with me!