Can you get pregnant on your period? Five conception myths busted

Should men wear boxers or women put their legs in the air, to help with conception? It can be hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the sometimes difficult process of becoming pregnant, so fertility expert Dr Eisenberg has weighed in to bust some myths.

Mother's hands and newborn feet
We look at five common fertility myths and ask if they really help you get pregnant

When you’re trying for a baby, it can be difficult to separate old wives’ tales and superstition from biological insight and medical fact. You could be told anything by a well-meaning friend, like going on holiday will help you conceive, or that you must do an extreme form of yoga to help the sperm on its way to the egg.

Infertility, which is defined as struggling to get pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex, affects one in seven UK couples. Rather than wasting your time with gymnastics and taking a weekend break every time you ovulate, you could instead try taking folic acid supplements, reducing alcohol consumption and other elements of a healthy diet to boost your fertility.

But what about all the other superstitions? Reproductive health expert at Twoplus Fertility, Dr Michael Eisenberg recently busted the most common reproductive myths – and gave his advice to trying couples.

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Five common fertility myths busted

1. Reaching climax during sex makes you more fertile

While reaching a climax, or orgasm, during sex should be part of most healthy relationships, Dr Eisenberg says it will not boost your fertility – though it could have other psychological benefits.

He says: “Women who enjoy sex will generally have more regular sex, which is proven to increase the chances of conception. Studies show that couples who have sex every other day have more chance of conceiving than those who have sex less often.’

A common complaint from couples trying for a baby is that their sex lives can become more of a biological function than an exciting part of their relationship, so it’s important to keep in mind that it should be a pleasurable act and not just a chore.

Going further, Dr Michael suggests trying “to avoid making sexual activity an obligation.”

2. You won’t get pregnant if you are on your period

Though the chances are lower during your period, you could become pregnant at any point in your menstrual cycle


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Many couples are caught out each year by the belief that you cannot conceive during certain days of your period, and fall unexpectedly pregnant. Equally, many couples “working around the clock” to conceive might avoid having sex in the belief that it will not work.

“Although the chances are fairly low, you can get pregnant if you have sex during your period, especially if you have irregular or short cycles,” says Dr. Eisenberg.

“If you have sex towards the end of your period for example, and you then ovulate early, it is possible for sperm to survive during that time.”

You can get pregnant during any stage of your menstrual cycle and, while having sex during your ovulation window will boost your chances, your best shot to boost your fertility is to have sex every other day.

3. You need to cut out coffee if you want to conceive

For many of us, not having that all-important morning coffee is enough to ruin the first half of every day, but with research showing caffeine consumption could harm your fertility chances – many women feel that they have to cut it out of their diet.

Not so, says Dr. Eisenberg: “Everything in moderation.

“Cutting back on caffeine is reasonable while trying to conceive, as high levels of caffeine consumption (more than five cups of coffee per day) have been associated with decreased fertility.

“Women trying to get pregnant should also avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.”

4. Men should wear boxers, not briefs

Your underwear is very unlikely to be having an impact on your chances of conception


Blend Images)

There is a great deal of evidence drawing a connection between low-quality sperm and prolonged testicular exposure to heat, but the boxers versus briefs debate is likely to have very little impact on sperm production. Though your choice of underwear may hinder your chances of getting far enough for it to matter.

“While consistent or prolonged heating of the testes can reduce sperm quality, an individual’s choice of underwear is unlikely to meaningfully change scrotal temperatures,” says Dr. Eisenberg.

“So, wearing comfortable underwear is best. However, avoiding long, hot baths or saunas is a good idea.”

5. Put your legs in the air like you just don’t care

If you’re missing out on that post-coital cuddle to do a naked handstand, you might want to put the yoga mat away.

While medical devices that help the sperm on their way to the egg have been shown to have some effectiveness, pulling out the naked plough pose is doing little to boost your chances of getting pregnant.

Dr. Eisenberg said: “There is no conclusive evidence that elevating your legs after sex will increase the chances of conception.

“When sperm is ejaculated it quickly enters the cervical mucus which helps it move through the reproductive system,” he says.

“Millions of sperm need to enter the cervix, so that hundreds of sperm can prepare the way for the ‘survivor sperm’ to fertilise the egg.”

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