Trying to Conceive: Separating Facts From Fiction

couple looking at their laptops in bedWhether you're on your first or your fourth, plenty of women subscribe to the belief that babymaking is just as much an art as it is a science. In other words, that certain brilliant strategies could boost your chances of having a boy or a girl, or merely ramp up your odds of making either more quickly.

While there's validity to some of the most popular conception tips, not all theories are based in, well, fact. And some are downright cockamamie old wives' tales! Here, the truth about babymaking tricks every trying-to-conceive couple should know.


Fiction: Having sex in a certain position (spooning or missionary, perhaps?) could influence whether you conceive a boy or a girl.
Fact: Research hasn't proven this to be the case. "There is no evidence that any behavior changes the chance of having a boy or girl," notes fertility specialist Sonia Elguero, M.D., of Albany IVF in Albany, New York.

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Fiction: A woman's orgasm is integral to conception.
"The contractions of the uterus may promote sperm passing towards the tubal opening where conception typically occurs," explains Dr. Elguero. However, it's not necessary. Need further proof? A study done by psychologists from the University of Queensland in Australia and Abo Akedemi University in Finland surveyed 8,447 women and concluded that there's no correlation between female orgasms and fertility. (Bummer! But hey, who says you have to share that with your partner?)

Fiction: Loading up on green tea makes you more likely to end up a mama-to-be.
Fact: In one small pilot study of 15 women, published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, one-third of participants taking a green tea supplement got pregnant after five months. Meanwhile, none of those who took a placebo conceived. So there may be a bit of merit. "It doesn't hurt," offers Dr. Elguero. But it's probably no magic bullet either.

Fiction: Timing when you have sex down to a specific window during ovulation can help you conceive a boy or a girl. According to Landrum Shettles, M.D. -- best known for his accomplishments with IVF and the book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby -- if couples want a baby boy, they ought to have sex as close to ovulation as possible, because that's when a woman's vaginal and cervical fluids are most alkaline, which makes conception most favorable for Y sperm.
Fact: As interesting as Dr. Shettles' theory sounds, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found no relationship between the timing of intercourse and the baby's gender.

Fiction: Lying on your back with your hips elevated after sex for 20 minutes will make it more likely for you to get pregnant.
Fact: There may be a bit of truth to this one. "It is recommended that a woman lie flat for 5 to 10 minutes," explains Dr. Elguero. The reason: It will help "the sperm to gain access to the cervix," she notes. There's no research specifically that shows how effective this is, but studies on intrauterine insemination (IUI) have found that procedure is actually more effective if the woman remains on her back for 15 minutes. The bottom-line on this one: Up to 15 minutes (or however long you can!) of lying flat after sex might help but is far from imperative.

Fiction: A swig of cough syrup will not only keep uncomfortable hacking at bay, but also boost fertility.
Fact: "The active ingredient in cough syrup, guaifenesin, can thin the cervical mucus and allow sperm to pass through easier," explains Dr. Elguero. While no official research shows that guaifenesin enhances fertility, there's lots of anecdotal evidence, and it is sometimes prescribed to help treat infertility caused by thick cervical mucus. Depending on your medical picture, it may be a strategy worth discussing with your doctor.

Fiction: Using lubricant when you have sex can help sperm swim faster -- and get you pregnant quicker.
Fact: Not quite. "Lubricants don’t enhance fertility," Dr. Elguero says. In fact, they could actually prove problematic for babymaking by interfering with your cervical mucus or altering the pH in your vaginal tract. Still, if lube does make it easier to have sex, you don't have to steer clear; just take care to check the ingredients to make sure the one you're using doesn't include a spermicidal agents. (Dr. Elguero recommends Astroglide and Pre-Seed.)

Do you still believe any of these myths about baby making?

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