Don’t believe everything you hear about conception and pregnancy—there are a lot of myths and misinterpretations out there that get the process of baby-making all wrong. Here are some of the worst of them.
Couples can make a particular sex.
I’ve heard countless theories about how to make a boy or a girl. Some include having sex in a certain position, eating a special diet, and timing sex in a particular way. None of it is confirmed by science. It’s a 50/50 chance no matter what you do because the sex of a baby is solely determined by whether the sperm has an X or a Y chromosome. The only way to produce the sex you want is by using medical intervention, for example, by doing in vitro fertilization and implanting only embryos of the sex you choose. There’s another new procedure called sperm sorting that sorts sperm by gender and injects them into the uterus via intrauterine insemination as well. Outside of those procedures, it really is up to chance.
You can tell what the sex of the baby is by a pregnant woman’s physical characteristics.
One myth is that if you carry low, you’re having a boy, and if you carry high, you’re having a girl. Another is that a high heart rate means girl and a lower heart rate means boy. People also think that a woman craving sweet food is having a girl, and a woman craving salty food is having a boy. Again, none of this is backed by science and there are many women, including myself, who don’t fit these myths. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. The only thing that can accurately determine a baby’s gender is an ultrasound or other prenatal screening methods done by medical professionals.
Pulling out is an effective birth control method.
If you pull the penis out before any semen can get into or near the vagina, there’s still a risk of pregnancy because it’s hard to do perfectly. You have to make sure absolutely no drop of ejaculate gets in. Also, pre-cum can potentially have sperm in it too. According to Planned Parenthood, pulling out is more effective when used along with other birth control methods like condoms or the pill. Four out of 100 women that correctly use the pull out method will get pregnant, but in reality, about 22 out of 100, or one-fifth of women, will get pregnant with this method because most people aren’t perfect. That’s a pretty high rate of failure.
Holding your legs up and resting after sex improves the chance of getting pregnant.
Sperm immediately swims up the vagina after ejaculate gets in, so you can still get pregnant no matter what you do after sex or what position you were in while doing it. Lots of women trying to conceive think that holding in semen is essential and that certain positions are better, but it really doesn’t matter. Sperm isn’t affected by gravity, so do whatever you want in bed and just enjoy it!
Timing sex around ovulation maximizes your chance of getting pregnant.
The average cycle time for a woman is about 28 days, with ovulation happening around mid-cycle. However, this isn’t true for all women. Some ovulate early and some ovulate late, so if you’re timing sex only around when you think you’re ovulating, you may be missing your conception window without knowing it. Unless you know without a doubt when you’re ovulating by tracking your periods, vaginal secretions, and basal body temperature, and you’re also using ovulation kits, it’s best to have sex about every other day throughout your whole cycle just to be safe if you’re trying to conceive, or to use birth control all the time if you don’t want a baby.
Saliva is the best lubricant to use to get pregnant.
Laboratory studies have shown that saliva, as well as other lubricants, can negatively affect sperm function. For example, according to one study, saliva, KY jelly, and olive oil all decrease sperm quality. Another study showed that other over-the-counter lubricants also lower sperm function. These studies were done in a lab though and not in actual women. A different study surveying real women trying to conceive reported no difference in the probability of conceiving for those that used lubricants versus those that didn’t. More research needs to be done for a definitive answer, however, saliva isn’t necessarily better than other lubricants.
If you start trying for a baby and don’t get pregnant right away, you’re infertile.
It can take up to 6 to 12 months to conceive even if both partners are perfectly normal and have no fertility problems. In one study, 80% of couples conceived within six months and 92% were pregnant within 12 months (this study didn’t include those with a history of infertility). While most couples are successful within six months, but if it takes a bit longer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re abnormal.
If you already have one child, you can easily have another.
Secondary infertility, which is when you have a child already but can’t conceive again, happens more often than many people think. Secondary infertility is caused by a number of factors and it’s truly devastating for couples who want more than anything to give their child a sibling. They often don’t receive the support they need from friends and from their doctors because they already have a child. Baby-making can be just as difficult for them as it is for those struggling with primary infertility.
You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period.
It’s unlikely because ovulation is typically at least a few days away, but there is still a chance, especially if you have a short cycle. For example, according to the American Pregnancy Association, if you have sex toward the end of your period, you can still conceive for up to five days afterward because sperm can survive in a woman’s body for a few days. So you could end up conceiving if you ovulate early in your cycle. If you don’t want to get pregnant, it’s best to use birth control all the time, just to be safe.
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