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Misperceptions About Conception, Sex are Widespread, Study Finds

Misperceptions About Conception, Sex are Widespread, Study Finds

January 30, 2014 — A significant number of women have inaccurate beliefs about conception, and half have never discussed reproductive health with a health care provider, according to a study of 1,000 women published in Fertility and Sterility, USA Today reports.

Yale University researchers decided to survey women after finding that their own patients were often misinformed about conception, according to lead author Jessica Illuzzi, an ob-gyn.

The women surveyed were ages 18 through 40 and generally representative of the overall population, although they were slightly more educated than average. More than half of the women said they had children, and 7% were pregnant at the time of the survey.

Key Findings

Half of the women falsely believed that having sex more than once a day would improve their chances of conception, the study found. It also found that nearly two-thirds of women wrongly believed having sex in the two days after ovulation would increase conception chances. In fact, chances of conception are highest when sex occurs one or two days before ovulation.

About 40% of the women thought that certain sexual positions or lying a certain way after sex would increase their chances of becoming pregnant, even though sperm reach the cervix within minutes "regardless of coital practices or positioning afterwards," the study said.

The researchers also found that more than 25% of women did not know that smoking, obesity, having irregular periods and sexually transmitted infections can decrease a woman's chances of conceiving.

Worries Over Infertility

Illuzzi said researchers were "very surprised" that 40% of women believed they might have trouble getting pregnant, given that actual infertility rates are about 5% to 15%.

She said "anxiety and lack of confidence" might be spreading to women who have little reason to worry about infertility (Painter, USA Today, 1/28).