When scrolling through the adorable pictures of babies on social media, you might be tempted to believe that getting pregnant is always easy. While it may come naturally for some, it’s much more of a challenge for those who struggle with infertility. In general, infertility is defined as not being able to conceive after a year or longer of unprotected sex.
“People often think of infertility as something that only affects women,” said Ali Dabaja, M.D., a urologist and reproductive medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health. “That is not true. Approximately 50 percent of the time, the male is a contributor to the infertility.”
Plenty of myths exist regarding fertility, from age to frequency of trying to conceive. Dr. Dabaja walks us through three common myths and explains the truth behind them.
Myth 1: Age Doesn’t Affect Men’s Fertility
If you believe only females over the age of 35 struggle with fertility, you are mistaken. As men increase in age, there is an increase in the time it takes to achieve pregnancy, and a decline in the conception rate. A five-fold increase in the time it takes to achieve pregnancy occurs with men over the age of 45.
“Semen qualities – like the number of sperm cells, their shape and their movement – decrease continually beginning at the age of 20,” Dr. Dabaja said. “Children with fathers aged 40 or older are also more than five times as likely to have an autism spectrum disorder versus children fathered by men aged 30 or younger.”
Myth 2: Having Sex Daily Will Increase Your Chances of Conception
It’s commonly believed that the more you try, the higher your odds of success. The truth is that conceiving is all about timing. Doctors generally recommend the 11th through the 17th day of the menstrual cycle as the most likely time to conceive.
“Having sex daily will do little to improve fertility,” Dr. Dabaja explained. “There are no differences in pregnancy rates between daily sex versus every-other-day sex around ovulation. Since a man’s sperm can survive for 48 to 72 hours in a woman’s reproductive tract, having sex every other day is sufficient when trying to conceive.”
Myth 3: Lubricants Decrease the Time it Takes to Conceive
Lubricants increase the pleasure of sex, but they won’t increase the odds or time need to get pregnant. Standard lubricants are full of substances that can damage sperm cells, which can slow the process down.
“Most doctors will recommend avoiding these products when attempting conception,” Dr. Dabaja explained. “The good news is that there are alternatives, like Pre-Seed Fertility-Friendly Lubricant. As always, consult with your infertility specialist to discuss your options.”
To request an appointment with a reproductive medicine specialist, visit henryford.com or call (248) 637-4050.
Dr. Ali Dabaja is a urologist who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in Dearborn and Sterling Heights, at Henry Ford Reproductive Medicine in Troy, and at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and West Bloomfield.