10 Fertility Myths You Need to Know-image

10 Fertility Myths You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed by Hertility on July 16, 2024

Myths are everywhere when it comes to reproductive health and fertility. But how can we dispel fact from fiction? Here we’ve broken down some of the most prevalent fertility myths and swapped in the facts. Read on to find out. 

Quick facts:

  • Infertility can impact people of all sexes and genders. 
  • Age is a determining factor in fertility for both males and females. 
  • Infertility can impact you even if you’ve been pregnant before.
  • Lifestyle, stress and how often you have sex can all impact your chances of conceiving. 
  • You always have the agency to take control of your reproductive health.

What are the most common fertility myths?

Fertility myths are everywhere. This is in part due to the lack of education and awareness surrounding reproductive health, exacerbated by today’s age of online misinformation. 

From questions around age and gender to addressing whether contraception or lifestyle factors can really cause infertility, we’ve broken down some of the most common myths and corrected them with evidence-based facts.  

Let’s get into it…

Myth 1: Infertility only affects people over 35 

Age is the most important factor in determining female fertility. This is because we are born with all the eggs we will ever have. As you get older, the number and quality of your eggs will decline. 

As you approach your mid-30s the rate of decline increases which makes it more likely that you might experience difficulty getting pregnant.  

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t experience fertility issues before that. There are causes of infertility that can happen at any age, like PCOS, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, and cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy exposure.

If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year with no success, you should seek medical advice. You should also seek help after 6 months if you’ve been trying to conceive and are over 35 or have an underlying health condition. 

Myth 2: Infertility only affects women and those assigned-female-at-birth

This is simply not true. About one-third of infertility cases are due to male factors, another third have inconclusive or unknown causes, and the remaining third are due to female factors. 

There are a variety of reasons that can cause male infertility such as poor sperm quality, number, and erectile dysfunction which can cause issues when trying to get pregnant.

While male fertility isn’t limited by age (and some men can father children well into their 60s and 70s), it doesn’t mean that male fertility is limitless.

Myth 3: Male fertility doesn’t decline with age

Just like female egg quality, sperm quality declines with age. There’s an increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects and autism with increased paternal age. 

Hormonal changes can affect male fertility, affecting sperm production, mobility and motility. This is essentially the ability for sperm to move and swim towards the egg. 

Myth 4: Infertility won’t be a concern if you’ve already been pregnant

Unfortunately, even if you have had one or more children previously without any issues, you still might struggle to conceive or give birth in the future.

If you are struggling to conceive after having a child, this is called secondary infertility and affects approximately 10% of people.

Secondary infertility can be caused by factors such as age, complications from a previous pregnancy, medical treatment or damage to your reproductive organs. 

If you’ve been trying to conceive again for some time without success, seek medical advice.

Myth 5: Irregular periods mean you’re infertile 

Irregular periods are common, but it’s possible to become pregnant even if you have them. 

Lots of factors impact the regularity of your periods and menstrual cycle. Stress, sleep disruptions, changes to your exercise routine, medication and more can impact your hormonal balance.

Irregular periods can mean irregular ovulation, which can make trying to conceive difficult because it is more difficult to know when your fertile window is. In this way, irregular periods can impact fertility. 

Irregular periods, coupled with heavy, painful or infrequent periods (if they happen more than 35 days apart), can be a sign there’s something else going on. If this is the case, it’s worth getting a hormone and fertility test to understand if there might be any underlying hormonal issues that might be causing your symptoms.

Myth 6: Long-term contraception will negatively impact your fertility

The idea that hormonal contraception will cause infertility is a very common misconception, but thankfully it’s not true. Whether you’re on the pill, have an implant, an IUD (the coil) or the injection, the evidence suggests that there is no permanent impact on your fertility.

Depending on the type, your use of hormonal contraception may temporarily suppress your ovarian reserve. It can take several months for both your ovarian reserve and periods to return to what is normal for you. 

For example, if you’ve been on the pill, it could take 2-3 cycles for things to return to normal. If you were on the Depo injection, it might take up to 8-12 months. This is because it takes time for your hormones to get back to baseline.

So, whilst there is no evidence to suggest that hormonal contraception can impact fertility in the long term, it’s worth knowing your body may need time to get back to normal when planning future pregnancies.

Myth 7: Your lifestyle doesn’t matter because it’s all about sex 

For conception to occur, sperm must meet the egg to become fertilised. So for those conceiving in a heterosexual relationship, this means you need to have sex at the right time—after you’ve ovulated. But this is not the only factor that impacts fertility.

Leading a healthy lifestyle including exercising in moderation, eating a healthy, balanced diet, keeping stress to a minimum and avoiding or limiting alcohol and smoking may shorten the time it takes to get pregnant.

If you need personalised diet recommendations to support fertility, you can speak with one of our fertility nutritionists.

Myth 8: The more sex you have, the better your chances of conceiving

Your fertile window exists only around ovulation—in the 6 days leading up to ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after. 

This is because of the limited lifespan of both your eggs and sperm. Your egg will only survive about 2-24 hours after ovulation if not fertilised, while sperm can survive in the genital tract for up to five days. This is why detecting when you’re ovulating is key.

Knowing when to have sex when trying to conceive can cause tension between couples as it may start to feel clinical or forced which doesn’t feel attractive. 

Also pinpointing exactly when you are ovulating may not always be easy, this is why it is recommended to regularly have unprotected sex every 2 to 3 days through your cycle. 

Myth 9: Stress causes infertility 

While it’s unlikely that stress alone can cause infertility, it can impact fertility. It can be difficult to discern whether you feel stressed due to struggles with fertility or the other way around as they often go hand in hand.

It’s worth considering your stress response. For some, stress may cause you to over-eat, under-eat, exercise excessively (which can lead you to lose your period—hypothalamic amenorrhea), consume more alcohol or smoke more. 

All these lifestyle factors can impact fertility. It can also cause sexual dysfunction which can make things difficult. Taking action to manage your stress can support you. Exercise, breathing techniques, meditation and taking the time to rest can all help to reduce stress.

Myth 10: Your reproductive health is out of your control 

You can take control of your reproductive health and Hertility can support you every step of the way.

Understand your hormones with a hormone and fertility test, and get advice from fertility advisors, fertility counsellors and nutritionists

Understanding the fertility facts and dispelling any fertility myths will allow you to make the most informed choices when it comes to your fertility and reproductive health.


  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pelvic-inflammatory-disease-pid/
  2. https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/impacts-of-cancer/fertility?gclid=cj0kcqiauqkqbhdxarisafzelmjwyr8qw5hw0dzhekwcfrfetbugehu9t8pytwar8wxxvdhraqaym9qaariyealw_wcb&gclsrc=aw.ds
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/causes/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253726/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253726/
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/combined-contraceptive-pill/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016043/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456349/#:~:text=Next%20to%20a%20higher%20frequency,.%2C%202012%3B%20Kobayashi%20et%20al
  10. https://hertilityhealth.com/blog/fertility-myths-the-common-misconceptions-about-conception/
Bríd Ní Dhonnabháin

Bríd Ní Dhonnabháin

Bríd is a Senior Scientific Researcher at Hertility, with a BSc (Hons) in Physiology from UCC and a Masters in Reproductive Science and Women’s Health from University College London. Her research interests focus on fertility preservation, tissue cryopreservation, foetal and maternal medicine and sexual health education

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