Separating fact from fiction

When it comes to fertility, there is a lot of misinformation out there. But it’s important to know the facts, especially if you’re struggling with infertility. Here are the facts about some common fertility myths that we often hear when we meet with new patients.

Myth: If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, keep trying for one year before seeing a physician.
Fact: You may need to see a specialist sooner if:

  • You’re 35 or older
  • You have irregular periods
  • You’ve had pelvic infections or a tubal pregnancy
  • You’ve experienced other female reproductive issues, such as endometriosis
  • Your male partner has reproductive issues, such as low sperm count

Myth: Daily sex helps conception.
Fact: You can achieve optimal fertility with intercourse every one to two days around the time of ovulation, because sperm live in the female reproductive tract for up to five days.

Myth: Birth control pills reduce future fertility.
Fact: Birth control pills do not reduce future fertility, but delaying childbearing until your late 30s or 40s might.

Myth: Stress causes infertility.
Fact: Although infertility is stressful, psychological stress does not seem to cause infertility. However, it does seem to reduce fertility, although it’s difficult to say how much.

Myth: It’s easier to get pregnant the second time.
Fact: In many cases, it’s more difficult conceiving for second or subsequent pregnancies than with the first pregnancy.

Myth: Ovulation always occurs on day 14 of a woman’s cycle.
Fact: Women typically ovulate between days 12 and 16 of the menstrual cycle, but this can vary.

Myth: A man’s choice of underwear affects his fertility.
Fact: Recent studies have shown that fertility is the same for men who wear boxers versus briefs.

Myth: Age does not matter for fertility.
Fact: A woman’s age is a major factor in determining her fertility. Sperm quality also declines with age.

Myth: All fertility treatment is expensive.
Fact: Most couples can be treated with methods that are much less expensive than In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It is best to see an infertility specialist to determine which treatment is right for you.

Michele J. Cho, MD is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist at Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM). Dr. Cho sees patients at SRM’s Kirkland location; and at their satellite clinic in Bellingham. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit

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