Playdough model of human sperm circling egg

How much do you think you know about infertility? What are the myths and truths? Take this quiz to find out what you need to know.

Fertility specialists will agree that a lack of knowledge and misinformation can be obstacles in achieving pregnancy, whether it’s the first time or even after multiple pregnancies. Here’s how to test your own fertility knowledge and separate many of the facts from fiction.

1. Is infertility mostly the woman’s problem?

Yes
No
It’s mostly the man’s problem

2. Is it true that stress has a lot to do with infertility and that if you just relax, it will be easy to become pregnant?

Yes
No

3. If you’ve become pregnant easily, does this mean you won’t have a problem when next you try to conceive?

Yes
No

4. Between what ages is a woman most fertile?

15 – 19 years
20 – 30 years
25 – 40 years
After 35 years

5. When does ovulation typically take place?

On day 8 of your cycle
On day 14 of your cycle
On day 18 of your cycle

6. Is a good diet important for pregnancy only, or conception too?

Pregnancy only
Conception too

7. When should you have sex after you ovulate?

Within 10 hours
Within 24 hours
Within 48 hours

8. What is the best position for conception?

Hips up
Missionary
Any position

9. What are the chances of healthy couples falling pregnant in any given cycle?

25%
40%
60%
80%

10. What are the signs that you’re ovulating?

A rise in basal body temperature
Stretchy and slippery cervical mucus
Slight twinges of pain from the ovaries
All of the above

11. Will being on the Pill will affect your fertility once you stop taking it?

Yes
No

“No one position ensures or increases the chances of conception. All that’s needed is penetration for the sperm to reach the cervical mucus, regardless of the position.”

Answers 

  1. No. Infertility affects men and women, and research shows that around 40% of infertility problems lie with the woman and 40% with the man, with 20% unexplained. This means that it isn’t only a woman’s “problem”, and if you pursue treatment, it’s essential that your partner is tested too. Female infertility factors include ovulation disorders, blocked fallopian tubes, congenital anomalies, early menopause and hostile mucus. Male factors include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced), oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced), malformed sperm cells and chromosomal abnormalities.

 

  1. Infertility is a medical condition of the reproductive system and while stress can result from infertility, it doesn’t cause it. However, in less severe cases, stress could cause anovulation or irregular menstrual cycles as the pituitary gland also produces increased amounts of prolactin, which could cause irregular or lack of ovulation.

 

  1. No. Just because you’ve previously become pregnant easily doesn’t mean you will the second time around. Several factors could be at play – the couple could have developed fertility problems since their first child was conceived. For women, these include endometriosis, irregular ovulation, fallopian tube disease, scarring, or deterioration of egg quality. For men, it could be related to the decline of sperm concentration or motility. Age also plays a role in secondary infertility – hormonal changes, egg quality, ovulation and sperm production could be affected. Also, if a previously fertile partner might be trying to conceive with a new partner who has fertility problems.

Playdough representation of human egg being fertilised

  1. A woman is most fertile between the ages of 20 and 30, after which her fertility drops. As you age, the quantity and quality of your eggs significantly decline. Your risk of infertility increases because you have fewer eggs in your ovaries and the quality of those eggs is lower than when you were younger. Your menstrual cycle and ovulation could also become irregular as you get older, and lead to fertility problems. The risk of miscarriage increases with age, plus ageing eggs are more likely to develop chromosomal abnormalities. This doesn’t meanthat you won’t become pregnant or have a miscarriage after you’re 30 – just that the risks increase.

 

  1. Ovulation can take place on any of those days. It’s a myth and widely held belief that ovulation always takes place on the 14th day of a woman’s cycle. But not every woman’s cycle is equal – some may have a regular 28-day cycle, others a longer 35-day cycle. It helps to chart your cycle, use ovulation kits, or best yet, consult with a fertility expert. A great charting guide can be found at www.tcoyf.com, or read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

 

  1. A good diet is important during conception too. Eliminating sugars and refined carbohydrates such as white flour and white sugar could improve ovulation and regularity. Foods that are broken down and absorbed quickly raise insulin and affect the delicate hormonal values in the ovaries causing more testosterone to be produced, impairing egg quality and possibly lowering the chance of conception. In some women, high insulin levels could cause irregular ovulation, irregular periods, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Many nutritionists also suggest you eat calcium and zinc (turkey, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, almonds, beans, wheat germ, yoghurt, oatmeal, corn, eggs, fortified breads and cereals, and cooked shellfish, especially oysters) to increase your fertility health.

 

  1. You should have sex within 10 hours of ovulating. There are many theories around the best time to have sex, but most fertility experts argue that the best time is within 10 hours after the egg has been released, and up to 24 hours. After this, the egg diminishes rapidly even though it can still be fertilised.

 

  1. No one position ensures or increases the chances of conception. All that’s needed is penetration for the sperm to reach the cervical mucus, regardless of the position. Therefore, no yoga, gymnastics or headstands are needed.

 

  1. 25% of healthy couples are likely to fall pregnant in a given cycle. This does, however, depend on age, frequency of sex, timing and other factors.
  1. All of the above. When you ovulate, you should experience a rise in basal body temperature; stretchy and slippery cervical mucus, and twinges of pain from the ovaries. You might not be aware of all of this, especially if you aren’t taking your temperature, but if you’re charting your cycles, these symptoms will be important in alerting you that you’re ovulating.

 

  1. The answer is no. Taking the Pill doesn’t affect your long-term fertility. However, it can mask signs of PCOS and other reproductive disorders that could impact your ability to conceive.
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