Fertility medicine is as old as language itself, so it’s no surprise that there are just as many myths as truths floating around the internet today.
Here, we tackle four of the most common fertility myths to help you separate the fact from the fiction.
In a recent study done by Clue , scientists tracked the menstrual cycles of 7.5 million people who were not using hormonal birth control. Researchers found that while the lunar and menstrual cycle of some will match up, the variability of the individual’s cycle is what creates a lot of random match-ups with full or new moons thereby. That means the lunar/menstrual cycle correlation is a myth.
One reason why this myth is still widely accepted as fact is that, at one point in human history, lunar and menstrual cycles may have actually been the same length. But due to changes in human behavior and the pervasive use of artificial lighting, we’ve slowly evolved into a slightly shorter menstrual cycle. Today, the average menstrual cycle is 28 days to the lunar cycle’s 29.5 days.
Luckily, tracking your menstrual cycle is almost easier than tracking the moon. Whether using the calendar on your phone, a good old-fashioned paper journal or calendar, or a menstrual cycle-tracking app, all you really need to do is mark the day you start your period each month. From there, you can determine, based on the phases of the menstrual cycle, when you would be ovulating.
Here’s a quick breakdown of those phases:
You could have a dozen siblings—but that wouldn’t necessarily mean you’d have an easy time getting pregnant. Conversely, even if you come from a family that has struggled with fertility, you personally may not struggle with it at all. It all comes down to your particular genetic makeup, which is why understanding your family history combined with your current health factors is vital to figuring out your fertility disposition.
At Parsley, we recommend a mix of approaches to get to the root cause of any fertility issues you might be experiencing. Genetics, nutrient deficiencies, and stress levels can seriously impact your fertility—and while you can't chance your genes, you can improve your diet with whole foods and supplements and learn effective ways to manage your stress. Whether or not you're looking to get pregnant, advanced testing can give you information about your body and overall health that's helpful to know in many contexts.
Understanding your cycle and fertility factors can be hugely beneficial no matter what lifestyle you choose. Just remember that your family history is only one piece of the puzzle.
Let’s confront a hard truth: reproductive medicine and female fertility studies have historically been problematic. Initial studies of birth control were “marked by a lack of consent, a lack of full disclosure, and true informed choice,” says Dr. Nauf AlBendar, the founder of The Womb Effect, which focuses on fertility and pregnancy and the effect it has on physical and mental health.
When initially introduced in the 1970s, the levels of hormones in birth control pills was entirely too high—putting many at risk for blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks. Those hormone levels were eventually lowered to a safe dosage, and what is commonly used today has proven to work as intended: to prevent fertilization of the egg or prevent that fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterus.
That means if you choose to stop taking hormonal birth control or if you have previously used Plan B, your body will stop ingesting the additional estrogen and progestin necessary to stop a pregnancy from occurring, making it possible to conceive. The presence of those additional hormones in the body might have prevented you from experiencing things like heavy periods, bloating, more intense cramping, or even weight loss or gain. When those symptoms begin to arise, that’s a good time to start writing down what you experience and discuss with your healthcare advisor to ensure they’re not indicative of underlying issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or a vitamin D deficiency.
We’ve all read about male celebrities having children with their partners well into their golden years, but the fact is that men have declining fertility as they age just like women—but the rate of that decline is different.
For women, fertility begins to deteriorate in their 30s, with any pregnancy happening by their mid-40s being extremely rare without the help of fertility assistance. Men, on the other hand, stay fertile well into their 40s, only experiencing a sharp decline in their early 50s when they begin to experience a decrease in the quality of seminal fluid, lower sperm count, and erectile dysfunction.
Luckily, there are ways to improve male fertility , and couples looking to get pregnant should pay as much attention to male reproductive health as they do to female. Parsley Health doctors and health coaches work with anyone who is looking to become pregnant and will curate specialized programs to ensure optimized fertility for your specific health care needs.
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.