If you are among the more than 7 million women in the USA having a hard time getting or staying pregnant, you've probably gotten lots of advice. Some is true - age does have an effect on fertility, as do smoking and obesity - but other suggestions may not stand up to the latest science. Here's a look at studies that shed new light on some old wisdom:
The new thinking: Stress doesn't reduce fertility.
How many times have you heard "Relax and you'll get pregnant"? A new British study begs to differ: Researchers reviewed data on more than 3,500 women undergoing a cycle of fertility treatments and found no difference in the pregnancy success rates of women who were stressed and those who weren't. It's normal to be anxious, particularly during the waiting periods of fertility treatments - but researchers hope the findings reassure women that those feelings won't prevent the treatment from working.
The new thinking: One at a time may be better for IVF.
It stands to reason: The more embryos you transfer during in-vitro fertilization, the higher your chances of getting pregnant. The success of the pregnancy, however, is much less certain. Transfer just one embryo, and you're five times more likely to give birth to a healthy baby than someone who chooses to have two implanted at the same time, suggests research in the British Medical Journal. So talk to your doctor: Single transfers may be an option for younger women with healthy eggs.
The new thinking: Most exercise won't hurt sperm.
Studies have suggested competitive athletes may have issues with their sperm, but research in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that for the average man, most exercise has no relationship to the quality or quantity of his sperm. The exception: cycling. Men who biked at least five hours a week had fewer and less active sperm than those who didn't exercise. Trauma or temperature increases in the scrotum may explain the link, but more study is needed.
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