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Over the years, countless old wives’ tales have been created around sex, conception, and pregnancy. Constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t do when trying to conceive can take the pleasure right out of intimacy. To help distinguish fact from fiction, Dr. John J. Rapisarda debunks 10 common sex myths.

Myth 1: Does laying down after sex help with pregnancy?

Many women ask ‘how long should I lay down after sex?’ Actually, there is no scientific evidence that laying down after sex increases pregnancy odds. However, standing up or going to the bathroom causes gravity to pull sperm away from the cervix. Laying down for 15 minutes after sex can help keep sperm going in the right direction by giving them some extra time – thus increasing the possibility of pregnancy.

Myth 2: Do certain sex positions enhance the ability to conceive?

It has not been scientifically proven that certain sex positions are more effective than others. Sperm travels to the cervix regardless of position but sperm may swim more effectively if gravity is working in its favor. Do whatever position feels right, then lay down after sex or finish in a position that won’t pull sperm away from the cervix.

Myth 3: Does having sex every day increase pregnancy?

The New England Journal of Medicine found that sex every day only slightly increases pregnancy when compared to sex every other day. Men that have a normal sperm count will not see a decrease the sperm concentration if having sex every day. This is great news for couples trying to conceive. Both findings allow couples to relax and have sex on their schedule, without concern of reducing conception odds.

Myth 4: Is it better to have sex at a certain time of day?

Studies show that sperm count is slightly higher in the morning. This may make morning sex more effective for conception. But studies show this is only a slight difference. So if night sex works better with your schedule – stick to that.

Myth 5: Do aphrodisiacs really boost sex drive?

According to the FDA, there is no scientific evidence of aphrodisiacs increasing sexual desire. However, researchers have found that certain foods, herbs, and supplements can stimulate hormone or chemical production. This can affect the libido (but they haven’t proven so conclusively). Monitoring the libido in conjunction with individual preferences results in too many variable factors because sex drive and taste will vary from person to person. If champagne and chocolate put you in the mood, go for it — but don’t put time into planning a menu in order to enhance desire.

Myth 6: Can a massage help when trying to get pregnant?

Decreasing stress and relaxing is a critical component when trying to have a baby. In a Harvard Medical School study with women who had fertility problems, 55 percent of women who completed a 10-week relaxation training course were pregnant within a year. Twenty percent of that same group who did not take the course did not get pregnant in that time span. Get a massage, meditate, rest, or do any other activities that aid in relaxation and decrease stress.

Myth 7: Can briefs (tight underwear) and heat hinder a man’s fertility?

The testicles are outside of the body so they can maintain a cooler temperature. Sperm production will temporarily stop if the temperature of the testicles reach 98 degrees or higher. Cooler temperatures can improve sperm count, but it takes at least two months of cool temperatures to make a difference. Extended use of hot tubs, hours with a hot laptop on your lap, wearing tight underwear, or activities that can heat the testes like biking the Tour de France can heat up the testes and decrease sperm count.

Myth 8: Can you become pregnant a couple of days after you have sex? 

Sperm can live in the reproductive tract for three days. As a result, pregnancy can occur up to 72 hours after sex.  Having sex prior to and during ovulation can boost conception odds because of sperms’ resiliency.

Myth 9: Do sexual pheromones really exist? 

In a study, scientists found that “hormone-like smells ‘turn on’ the brain’s hypothalamus, which is normally not activated by regular odors.” Additional research teams also found that hormone-like chemicals can produce changes in mood, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.  These changes create a pheromone effect. But do these changes affect sexual arousal? There is no clear tie according to scientific research thus far.

Myth 10: Does lubricant affect my ability to get pregnant?

Water-based lubricants such as Astroglide and KY Jelly may inhibit sperm movement by 60-100 percent within 60 minutes of intercourse. Opt for natural oils, oil-based lubricants, or even cooking oil. Make sure to keep any potential allergies in mind. Pre-Seed lubricant is a commercial product that may even enhance sperm’s ability to move.

Medical contribution by John Rapisarda, M.D.

Dr. Rapisarda places emphasis on respectful, compassionate treatment for all his patients. He strives for high success rates through special interest in the treatment and management of PCOS.

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