TTC Myths and Wives Tales
The Trying Part of Trying
If you've ever uttered the words "we're trying," chances are you've found yourself inundated with conception advice ranging from the scientific to the superstitious. It can be tempting to believe all of it. After all, when you're trying to conceive so many things are out of your control—your life may be about to change in a major way at any moment, and yet you don't get to decide exactly how or when. Unless, that is, you believe in these old wives' tales, which claim you can control when you conceive and even whether you'll have a boy or a girl. Here are some of the most common, compelling, and downright crazy TTC myths.
Conception voodoo seems to sort itself out into a couple of main categories. First, there are the position myths. Some say you should do headstands after sex, or, even more romantically, the upside-down bicycle. Others recommend the seemingly opposite though no less athletic technique of having sex while standing up. Preferably in a closet. During the full moon.
Then there are the gender-specific position suggestions. If you're dreaming of a little girl, it's as easy as seducing your husband into having sex in the missionary position with shallow penetration in the afternoon during a full moon, and having an orgasm before he does. Oh, and make sure to stay calm and cool, as that's said to increase your chances of conceiving a girl.
If, on the other hand, you're trying for a boy, you will want to first warm up your husband's testicles (gently, one assumes) before having intercourse "doggy style," with your head pointing north as your husband climaxes first. Afterwards, stay on your back and sleep to the left of your husband.
The Outside World
Positions aside, there are also the old wives' tales that take into account completely external factors. According to some, you shouldn't sweep under the bed if you're trying to get pregnant. And since sex during the day with the lights on and the windows open, despite entertaining your neighbors, is said to prevent a baby, couples trying to conceive should consider a bit more discretion. While you're at it, you might as well also go on a cruise, plant a rosemary bush, give a gift of silverware, have Mistletoe in the house, and/or rub a pregnant woman's belly. But please, ask her first.
You Are What You Eat
Then of course there are the dietary intake fables. Allegedly, eating red meat and salty snacks like pretzels, pickles, and processed foods will lead to a boy, while fish, vegetables, and chocolate will net you a girl. By this logic, a chocolate-covered pretzel or surf-n-turf platter will undoubtedly cause fraternal twins, so by all means, watch what you eat!
But while these food tips may seem among the most ridiculous, they might in fact be scientifically sound. A recent study linked higher energy intake at the time of conception to the birth of sons. The study suggests that the number of boy babies is in decline in developed countries as a result of low-fat diets and women skipping breakfast. In other words, women who eat more calories, a higher range of nutrients, and yes, perhaps more meat and salty snacks, are slightly more likely to have sons. And who knows, maybe some day more of these so-called old wives' tales will also be proven true.
What's the lesson here? Since one thing we do know is that stress can impede conception, try not worry too much about things like planting bushes or rubbing bellies. Instead, eat nutritiously, take your prenatal vitamins, and enjoy yourself.
Ready to have a baby? Experts agree that determining when you're ovulating is the single most important factor in getting pregnant quickly. But with so many methods out there — from charting your basal body temperature to using an ovulation predictor kit — where does a woman start?
The general rule of thumb is that women ovulate 14 days before their next period. A normal menstrual cycle will last between 23 and 35 days. (If your cycles are shorter or longer than the normal range, you might want to consult an expert.) But because a woman's body varies from month to month, few women have the exact same number of days in every cycle. And because sperm can live for two to three days after intercourse and the egg can survive for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, the optimal time to have intercourse is one to three days before ovulation. So here's the tricky part: How can you predict ovulation if your cycle changes every month?
Here's a breakdown of the most popular free and over-the-counter methods available to help you predict ovulation. Not every method works for every woman, so you might want to try a few to see which one is best for you.
Charting Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
A woman's body temperature drops slightly at the time of her luteinizing hormone (LH) rise, and then goes up significantly. This elevation in temperature indicates that ovulation has occurred. To chart your BBT, you need a basal body thermometer, available at most drugstores for $10 to $13, and a chart of some sort to track your temperature readings. You must take your temperature first thing every morning, before getting out of bed. You're looking for a slight drop or, more likely, a significant rise. Charting your BBT over a period of a few months will enable you to learn about your cycle so that you're aware of when you're ovulating in subsequent months.
Pros: It's inexpensive and can help women learn about their bodies and their cycle lengths.
Cons: It's hard for many women to remember to take their temperature every morning, and with this method, it's more likely you'll determine when ovulation has already occurred, which is not as useful in terms of getting pregnant.
Checking Cervical Mucus (CM)
As the estrogen level rises in the first half of your cycle, your mucus changes from sticky to creamy to a thin, watery, stretchy consistency. Ovulation occurs when copious amounts of this thin, stretchy discharge is present. To use this method, you simply check your mucus in the morning, or throughout the day, to determine the thickness and texture. Once you detect this watery CM, you should have sex every day, or every other day, until the slippery CM dissipates.
Pros: It's absolutely free, and it's a good indicator of when you're about to ovulate.
Cons: According to Christopher Williams, MD, author of The Fastest Way to Get Pregnant Naturally, the change in your mucus can last up to a week, and "it's a gross overgeneralization to say that all women have the same type of mucus."
OPKs use special chemicals to recognize a surge of LH in your urine, indicating that ovulation will occur in about 24 to 36 hours. The kits, found in most drugstores, cost between $25 and $30. You simply follow the directions on the package and have intercourse on the day of the surge and the day after.
Pros: They're relatively easy to use and fairly accurate.
Cons: They don't work for everyone. According to Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, 10 percent of women will have a false-positive test and 10 to 20 percent of women will get a false negative.
BBT (Basal Body Temp) Basics
What is basal body temperature? Basal body temperature (BBT) is the temperature of your body at rest.
Why would you measure your BBT? BBT charting is a useful tool for couples trying to conceive because of its ability to confirm ovulation. BBT charting also helps the couple understand more fully the physiological processes surrounding ovulation. Not all women ovulate 14 days before their next period. In fact, for many women, the time between ovulation and their period (called the luteal phase) is shorter. A woman needs to have at least 10 days in this phase in order to allow enough time for the fertilized egg to reach the uterus and implant. If it is less, she will need to resolve the short luteal phase if she desires to maintain a pregnancy.
Is BBT charting enough? No. Charting temperatures will only tell you when ovulation has already occurred. Since an egg can only live about 12 to 24 hours, by the time your temperatures rise a day or two after ovulation, the egg will already be gone. So when charting your fertility signs in order to time intercourse, it is most useful to chart your cervical fluid to determine when you are in your most fertile phase.
How do you take your BBT? Your BBT is taken orally with a special BBT thermometer. This type of thermometer is graduated in easy-to-read one-tenth degree increments. Your temperature must be taken before any activity, first thing in the morning, after at least three hours of consecutive sleep. The thermometer must be shaken down the night before, because even this activity can raise your temperature -- and you are looking for as little as two-tenths of a degree of difference. Be sure to read the instructions that come with the thermometer. They are usually very complete.
What BBT changes can you expect during your cycle? Your BBT is lower during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, prior to ovulation. The presence of the hormone estrogen keeps the BBT low. Typically it will range from 97.0 to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately following ovulation, progesterone "turns up the heat" a bit, and there is typically a rise of at least 0.4 to 0.6 degrees until the time of your next menstrual period. This temperature rise will let you know that ovulation has occurred.
How can you chart your BBT? Using either a notebook or graph paper, start recording on day one of your menstrual cycle -- the first day of your period. For each day, record your temperature, any reason for a variation in temperature (if applicable), if you made love that day, and if you were menstruating. This charting will not only be invaluable to you but will provide your health care provider with important information in helping you achieve your fertility goals -- of achieving or avoiding pregnancy.
What factors can affect your BBT? Your temperature can be affected if you didn't get a good night's sleep, if you didn't have at least three hours of consecutive sleep after making love, if you have a fever or if you had an alcholic drink the night before.
How reliable are the results? The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is highly effective in achieving and preventing a pregnancy when used correctly. The more data you have, the more accurate your method will be. It is really best to chart your other two fertility signs, cervical fluid and cervical position, as well as chart your temperature. There are factors that can affect temperatures, but the trick is to learn how to see the forest through the trees and identify a pattern of lows and highs before and after ovulation, rather than focusing on any one particular temperature.
Can you detect pregnancy by BBT changes?Yes. If your BBT remains elevated even past the time that your menstrual period is due, it could be a very early indicator of pregnancy. When you conceive, the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube, after which it takes about a week to travel to the uterus, where it will implant. It is at this time that your body is finally able to detect that you are pregnant. When hCG is released, women often experience a third temperature rise, not as dramatic as the first, but can usually be seen anywhere from about a week to 12 days after the first temperature rise.
Can falling BBT predict a miscarriage? Waking temperatures are very useful if you continue to take them during the first trimester. Most miscarriages occur during this time and waking temperatures typically start dropping below the coverline as a warning of an impending miscarriage. You can usually tell that you have had a miscarriage, even if your pregnancy was never confirmed by a pregnancy test. You may have had 18 or more high temperatures, followed by what appears to be either a normal or heavier period.
Eating For Fertility
Food and love have been bedfellows for centuries. But can what you eat affect your ability to conceive? Ages before there was much understanding about the chemical or nutritional content of food, folks were making connections between food and fertility, attributing such qualities as shape (e.g. foods in the shape of sexual organs such as onions, oysters and figs) or the food's ability to make your temperature rise (e.g. chili peppers or curry) to increased potency or fertility. But can your diet really affect your ability to conceive?
Yes, both positively and negatively. Overly strict dieting that results in severe weight loss can disrupt ovulation in women or reduce sperm formation in men. Too much eating resulting in obesity may also negatively affect fertility. Scientific evidence supports only one specific food that may enhance fertility, and that's the oyster. The reason is not due to any magical powers, but rather to its abundant amount of zinc. Adequate zinc is critical for maintaining optimum semen volume and blood testosterone levels in men. Researchers at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia have found supplemental vitamin E to dramatically improve sperm mobility and viability. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin suggest that consuming 1,000 mg. of calcium and 10 mcg. of vitamin D each day may improve men's fertility.
On the other hand, for women, even small amounts of alcohol may interfere with fertility. Drinking alcohol in any amount reduced conception by up to 50 percent. Drinking more than one cup of coffee a day also seems to have a small negative effect on fertility for women, but may increase sperm motility in men if drunk before making love, so make yours decaf and his espresso. For men and women to optimize their chance of conception, a nutrient-packed diet that supports a healthy weight along with a multivitamin supplement with 100 percent of the recommended daily intakes is best. Men should be sure to get adequate zinc and vitamin E.
In recent years there has been a lot of buzz, both positive and negative, about soy and it's relation to fertility. Tofu and soy are excellent sources of protein during pregnancy. Soy foods contain plant-derived estrogen, known as phytoestrogens. These come in different forms and have different effects. Some may function similarly to estrogens in the body, producing a very weak effect compared to the real thing. And others act as antiestrogens, to reduce the activity of estrogen. Evidence is growing that these phytoestrogens may help with menopausal symptoms, as well as inhibit cancer cell growth. But, a few studies suggest that high levels of soy protein may decrease fertility. These studies tended to look at soy consumption levels that are much higher than most people normally consume. From the reports available, it seems logical to conclude that normal intake of soy proteins will not adversely affect your chances of becoming pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy. But, consuming large quantities of soy products is not recommended.
The information posted here was taken from resources found at the ivillage Pregnancy homepage. No personal changes in information, resources or text was made. This was strictly copied and pasted for your viewing pleasure.
* Sending lots of sticky babydust to all the TTC'ers*
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