Causes & Treatment

Does Being on The Pill Harm Fertility? And Your Other Fertility Questions Answered

Eloise Edington  |   28 Dec 2021

We grow up being told that “no question is a silly question” and whilst this might seem true in the classroom, it can be hard to remember as an adult, when we’re meant to know Things (with a capital “T”).

Fortunately, at Fertility Help Hub, we maintain that there’s no such thing as a silly question, especially when it comes to health and fertility.

Earlier this month, Founder Eloise spoke with Reproductive Specialist, Dr Samantha Pfeifer, to help sort fertility facts from fertility fiction, answering your questions (even the ones you were almost too embarrassed to ask).

Words by Holly Pigache, answers by Dr Pfeifer.

Let’s start with the medical questions…

Q: Can sperm quality affect embryos and implantation rate?

A: “Yes, however…”

Yes, sperm quality can impact embryos and the implantation rate but we don’t fully understand the mechanisms behind this.  Certainly, lower sperm numbers and motility can affect fertilisation rate but it’s not clear how low sperm count impacts the quality of embryos.

Recently, scientists have discovered that DNA fragmentation can affect the quality of sperm but it’s unclear how it might affect embryo quality.

With age, a man’s sperm quality can deteriorate and can be associated with increased risk of a conceived child developing autism (or other autosomal dominant mutations).

For $65 off the Legacy Sperm Analysis kit, use code DADLIFE65 at checkout.

Q: Can you boost egg quality after the age of 35?

A: “Probably no.”

Whilst a woman’s age does have an impact on the success of embryos (and the current understanding is that egg or embryo quality cannot be improved), it’s worth remembering that egg quality after 35 isn’t necessarily bad.

Some studies have shown that COQ10, DHA and acupuncture can make a difference to egg quality but the research isn’t fully robust or conclusive.

Q: Can hydrosalpinx cause miscarriage?

A: Not really.

Hydrosalpinx is fluid that accumulates in the fallopian tube, typically because there is a blockage at the end of the tube.  Associated with a 50% lower pregnancy rate in IVF patients, the fluid in the hydrosalpinx is thought to flush the embryo out of the uterus or the fluid may be “toxic” and harmful to the embryo.

Once an embryo has attached, the fluid is unlikely to be detrimental to the embryo.

Scroll down to see the video of the full Q&A.

Q: How can you decrease natural killer cells during transfer?

A: Natural killer cells are unlikely to impact fertility.

However, if you are with a clinic who believe natural killer cells do impact fertility, you could try steroids, intralipids and infusions.

Q: Does having an abortion affect your future fertility?

A: Absolutely not.

Only if an abortion was accompanied by an unusual complication might this procedure affect a woman’s fertility in the future.

Q: Does being on the pill negatively impact fertility?

A: No.

A birth control pill works by shutting down the menstrual cycle and sometimes when an individual stops taking the pill, there may be a delay in the return of menstruation.  This can happen as a result of a lifestyle change (contributing to irregular cycles), not necessarily the pill.

Other forms of reversible contraception are reversible and won’t impact fertility in the long-term.

Q: How long after coming off contraception does your period return to “normal”?

A: It depends on the contraception.

If you’re on a contraceptive that doesn’t impact the menstrual cycle (such as the copper IUD), there won’t be any impact on your periods.

If you’re on a progesterone IUD or an oral contraceptive, it could take six- to eight-weeks for periods to return to normal, for you.

Q: How do STIs impact fertility in men and women?

A: It depends which STI is caught.

In women, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause an infection in the uterus and fallopian tubes, leading to hydrosalpinx.  Damage to the fallopian tubes can mean there might be a delay in getting pregnant and blocked fallopian tubes can result in infertility.  HPV (human papillomavirus) doesn’t cause fertility issues.

In men, STIs don’t have any significant impact on fertility (except they can transfer an STI to female partners).

HIV doesn’t cause fertility problems itself (but problems arise if one partner is infected and the other is not – in this case, steps should be taken to minimise transmission, such as through IVF).  See our article about HIV here.

It’s important to regularly get checked for STIs, particularly if you or your partner(s) change sexual partners.  Whilst gonorrhea is typically symptomatic, chlamydia can be asymptomatic.

Q: Does period duration show how likely you are to conceive?

A: No.

However, if a person’s period lasts longer, (or if there is a significant change in the length of a menstruating) it could lead to investigations as to why this is happening which may highlight fertility complications.  For example, if someone has a long period duration because of a structural issue in the uterus, the structural issue itself could impact a person’s fertility.

The timing of periods (whether a cycle is longer or shorter) can have an impact on TTC because it can mean that a woman isn’t ovulating regularly.

Now let’s find out Dr Pfeifer’s answers to your lifestyle questions.

Q: Does Vitamin D improve fertility?

A: No.

Although Vitamin D doesn’t impact fertility, correcting Vitamin D deficiency is important to improving overall health.  (Nearly everyone is Vitamin D deficient, so reach for those quality Vitamin D supplements).

Get 15% off Beli pre-natal supplements if you live in the US by using code FHH15 at checkout.

Q: Does staring at your phone or laptop at night harm your fertility?

A: No.

Not in terms of radiation.  However, for overall health, remove the electronic devices from your bedroom so you can go to sleep without distractions and have a good night’s sleep.

Q: Can you tell how fertile someone is by the condition of their teeth?

A: No, you can’t.

Q: Do sex positions impact whether you get pregnant?

A: No.

But have fun exploring different sex positions!  To read a somatic sex coach’s guidance for making sex fun when TTC, click here.

Q: Do sex positions impact the gender you might conceive?

A: No.

Q: Are there any sex positions you should avoid when pregnant?

A: Just avoid the ones that are uncomfortable.

Having sex when pregnant is safe, unless there are issues with the pregnancy like pre-term labour.

Q: Does using lube make it harder to get pregnant?

A: Probably not.

Some lubricants can be toxic (or contain harmful additives) to sperm but the likelihood is that most lubricants are safe for sperm, when used in small amounts.

If you’re looking for lube specifically tailored for intercourse when TTC, check out the lubricants in our shop here.

Related: Is your lubricant sperm-friendly?  Find out about BabyDance fertility lube here.

Q: Does swallowing semen make you more fertile?

A: No, it really doesn’t.

The sperm is degraded in the stomach.

Q: Does eating yams (sweet potato) when you’re TTC make you more likely to have twins?

A: No.

Some yams (sweet potatoes) contain oestrogen-like substances but they don’t impact conception.

We loved your questions and thank Dr Pfeifer for her time and expertise.

To book a consult with Dr Pfeifer, click here to find out more.

If you have questions, you can reach out to our fertility community here or explore our experts here.

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