Fertility 101: Baby-making basics unclear for many women, study says

Four Canadian provinces see an annual spike in births in mid-late September, reflecting an apparent peak in conceptions in the last weeks of December and early January. ISTOCKPHOTO

TORONTO – True or false: certain sex positions increase your chances of getting pregnant.

How about having sex more than once a day, or elevating your pelvis post-coitus – do these moves boost your odds?

The answer: each is false. Your chances of getting knocked up don’t change even if you take on these measures. They’re just misconceptions, but a new study suggests that U.S. women might believe these myths are reality.

How much do women know about the science of baby-making and their reproductive health? Yale School of Medicine researchers suggest that some aspects of conceiving may still be a mystery to women between 18 and 40 years old.

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“The study, on one hand, brings to the forefront gaps in women’s knowledge about their reproductive health, and on the other hand, highlights women’s concerns that are often not discussed with health providers,” Dr. Jessica Illuzzi, an associate professor of obstetrics, genecology and reproductive sciences, said.

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“It is important that these conversations happen in this ever-changing family landscape,” she said.

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Illuzzi’s research is based on an anonymous online survey of 1,000 women completed last March. They were asked about their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices when it comes to conceiving, pregnancy and basic baby-making concepts.

Turns out, half of the group didn’t know that prenatal vitamins are recommended to women preparing for pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. About 20 per cent of the women didn’t know that as they aged, they’d have a harder time with conceiving or they’d deal with increased chances of miscarriage, and chromosomal abnormalities.

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In other cases, another 25 per cent of women didn’t know that STIs, obesity and smoking could be bad for fertility and pregnancy.

They were also confused about conceiving. Fifty per cent of the group thought that if they had sex more than once a day they’d increase their chances of conceiving. Another 33 per cent thought that certain sex positions or elevating their pelvis would make them more likely to get pregnant. (As noted above, none of these beliefs are true.)

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Only 10 per cent of women in this survey were aware that intercourse needed to happen before ovulating, instead of after, to optimize conception.

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Another 40 per cent of women even thought that their ovaries keep producing new eggs during reproductive years. This is what worried doctors, too, as women delay motherhood. (You’re born with millions of eggs, but they die off as you age and you don’t produce more in your lifespan.)

The doctors say these findings suggest that women need to have important talks with their doctors. Only 50 per cent of women in their childbearing ages discussed their reproductive health with a medical provider. About 30 per cent of women went to their doctor less than once a year or never, the study said.

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