When it comes to conceiving, misinformation can be rife. You\u2019ll be hearing a lot of truths, half-truths and even myths offered by family and friends, social media, magazines and even tourist guides and gift shops to get you into believing that what is said or what you hear in the grapevine is the sure-fire way to get pregnant. In Malaysia, the stories are a-plenty for hopeful parents-to-be. For instance, you might have heard that if you go to Langkawi\u2019s Pulau Dayang Bunting or Isle of the Pregnant Maiden, and you take a dip in the water and make a wish to conceive, your wish will come true! This is Pulau Dayang Bunting or Isle of the Pregnant Maiden, Langkawi. If you look closely, the shape of the hills on the isle does look like a reclining pregnant woman. Legend has it that you will be blessed with fertility and conception should you swim in the water of the island. Tourist guides and locals will always make it a point to tell you that lots of hopeful couples have had their children conceived this way.\u00a0 But whether or not the folklore is to be believed is quite another story as the legend was probably born out of the island\u2019s resemblance to the silhouette of a pregnant woman reclining on her back than any other magical potency for conception. But then, such is the stuff of urban legends \u2500 anecdotal evidence that cannot be proven or disproven either way. Another myth you might have heard is that your pregnancy will be determined by the phase of the moon because the moon\u2019s revolution at 28 days is believed to be synced with your menstrual cycle and vice versa. Some people say that you will ovulate around the full\u00a0moon\u00a0and you will menstruate\u00a0around the new\u00a0moon. But a woman\u2019s menstrual cycle \u2500 assuming it is 28 days and not longer or shorter \u2500 is only the same length as the lunar month. It certainly isn\u2019t synchronised with a particular phase of the moon, says Science Focus. Some people say your menstrual cycle is linked to the moon. So will you conceive if you follow the four lunar phases every month? Or, you might have heard that rubbing African fertility statues, or displaying fertility symbols such as two elephant figurines or two mandarin ducks by your bedside will bring you the child that you desire. Or that you should eat pineapple cores after sex to ensure fertilization of the sperm to the egg. All these are myths that have been created out of a yearning to have children. Myths and superstitions are interesting, no doubt, and are even fun to talk about but they probably won\u2019t get you any closer to getting pregnant than wishful thinking would. So in order for you to believe in the right things, let\u2019s sift out what\u2019s real and what\u2019s rumour so that you can get closer to your desire of conceiving when you want to conceive. Conception & Fertility Myths Shot Down Myth #1: "Lifting my legs up after having sex will help me conceive." This is the same advice as the ever popular fable of lying down flat on your back, or putting a pillow under your hips or raising your legs up till you\u2019re doing a yoga handstand after sex to help sperm get to where they need to go. The thing is \u2500 sperm knows where to go. About 40 million to 150 million sperm are released in each ejaculate and unless the man has a problem with his sperm\u2019s motility, all sperm are excellent swimmers and are born to swim upstream towards the fallopian tubes. According to WedMD, after the sperm enters the vagina, it will take 15 to 30 minutes to reach the cervix. Once it reaches there, it will swim to the fallopian tube where capacitation \u00ad\u2500 the biochemical change that a sperm has to undergo in order to penetrate and fertilize an egg \u2500 will take place. Capacitation usually takes an estimated seven hours, after which, it will take another 24 hours for that successful sperm to finish fertilizing the egg. Sperm was born with one goal and one destination in mind. There is no evidence so far to say lifting the legs after sex will help a woman get pregnant easier. Myth #2: "Getting pregnant is easy. After all, it only takes three to 15 minutes to conceive." In order for conception to occur, many other factors in the woman\u2019s body have to take place first. It is not as easy as depositing sperm in the right place and everything will fall into place. (Image Credit: freepik.com\/Abstract photo by whatwolf) If only getting pregnant was that quick and simple. In order for anything to happen, all the woman\u2019s reproductive parts must work in sync. She must first of all, have a menstrual cycle where she must ovulate \u2500 a process where hormonal changes trigger the ovary to release an egg. The fallopian tube must be open to catch that egg and then have sperm to meet the egg in the fallopian tube to fertilize it. The process of fertilization also takes some doing as explained in Point #1, and after fertilization, the egg must implant successfully in the uterus \u2500 a critical developmental milestone in order for it to go on to become a baby. Only after this process can you say you are successfully pregnant. Added to the complication of course is that many women try to conceive on the wrong days, which is why one in five couples\u00a0takes more than 12 months to conceive. Myth #3: "Having sex in the morning will improve my chances of conceiving." The one good thing about having sex in the morning is that you and hubby would have just been refreshed after a good night\u2019s sleep. You\u2019re energized and raring to go. Some researchers claim a man\u2019s sperm count is higher in the morning but the difference is minimal, say by a million or so sperm more. But then mornings tend to be filled with routine. You need to get breakfast ready for everyone, especially if you already have children and they have to get to kindergarten or school on time, you and hubby need to get ready for work (your boss won\u2019t like it if you get in late), there\u2019s going to be traffic jam to contend with if you don\u2019t hurry and all that tick-tocking in your brain will get in the way of feeling in the mood for sex in the morning. Night time and darkness work better in getting both of you relaxed and feeling sexy. You can take your time to enjoy intimacy and sex and have fun without worrying so much about the clock. But at the end of the day, it\u2019s not whether you have sex in the morning or evening, it is timing your ovulation and knowing when to have sex that is key to conception. Myth #4: "I have to abstain from coffee in order to conceive." No you don\u2019t have to. Based on research done on\u00a0caffeine\u00a0consumption\u00a0during or pre-pregnancy, experts advice that\u00a0drinking\u00a0one to two cups of\u00a0coffee\u00a0(200 milligrams\/8oz of\u00a0caffeine) a day is safe for women\u00a0when\u00a0they're expecting or\u00a0trying to conceive. Myth #5: "If I'm healthy and fit, my age won't affect my chances of conceiving." The graph above shows the effect of age on the declining chances of conception. (Image Credit: Clearblue.com) It is always good to strive to be healthy and fit when you are trying to conceive. It is to prepare an optimum environment for baby to thrive in so that the pregnancy goes to term with zero or a minimal of complications. However, when it comes to age, it\u2019s a stumbling block for fertility for both men and women. Age is the single biggest factor affecting a woman's chance at conceiving and having a healthy baby. A woman's fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, with the decline speeding up after age 35. Regardless of how healthy and fit you may be, a woman\u2019s natural fertility will already start to decline in her late 20\u2019s due to the fact she has fewer eggs and the quality of those remaining eggs is likely to be lower than when she was younger. After the age of 35, egg depletion is at a critical level and after age 40, the chances of achieving pregnancy are very much lower. This is true not only for natural conception but also for assisted conception. According to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, about 95% of women aged 35 who have regular unprotected sexual intercourse will get pregnant after three years of trying, but for women aged 38, only 75% can conceive. As for male fertility, increasing male age does result in decreasing fertility. Male fertility generally starts to decline at around age\u00a040 to 45 years when sperm quality falls. Male fertility decline may be compounded by illness, anatomical problems, chromosomal defects, problems with sexual intercourse or ejaculation and DNA fragmentation within the sperm. Myth #6: "Eating more vegetables will help me conceive a girl, while having more meat will help me conceive a boy." Will eating more vegetables help you conceive a girl? Let\u2019s see. If you already have boys in your previous pregnancies, you may now yearn for a girl and vice versa. But as you attempt to get pregnant once again, you might ask yourself \u2500 can you influence the sex of your child through your diet? Hard to say. There are stories going around that if you eat more meat, you will get a boy. And if you eat more vegetables, you will get a girl. Some people swear by this myth but then again, it\u2019s all anecdotal old wife\u2019s tale with no conclusive evidence to prove that dietary intake can swing the odds in favour of getting a child of the gender you want. What\u2019s more important to remember is to attain a healthy body by eating a nourishing, well-balanced, fully-cooked diet along with uptakes of Folic Acid so that you get a healthy child \u2500 regardless of its sex. But let\u2019s explore the myth for argument\u2019s sake. Your baby\u2019s gender is determined by chromosomes.Y chromosome-bearing sperm leads to boys while X chromosome-bearing sperm leads to girls. Boy Y sperm are said to be faster swimmers but are more fragile than slower but sturdier and longer-surviving female X sperm. That said, let\u2019s look at the Shettles Method\u00a0that that lies at the base of the theory that food plays a role in sex selection. Created by Dr Landrum Shettles in the 1960s, the method propounds that the more alkaline the vaginal fluid, the better for Y or male-carrying sperm to survive and thus, go on to fertilise the egg and give you a baby boy. To get a girl, a more acidic environment is favoured. There are two ways to execute the Shettles Method: a) Through food b) Through timing of intercourse. a)Through food The foods you eat can contribute to the pH balance of your vaginal secretions (just like how it influences the taste of breastmilk). \u00a0Hence to get boys, you need to eat more alkaline-inducing foods. However, the call for higher intake of meat (red meat, poultry, fish) is a major contradiction because meats are acidic. In fact, some of the most acidic foods are red meats, poultry, dairy and eggs according to Nava Center that listed out the most highly acidic foods that can cause inflammation. Red meat and fried chicken come out tops. The recommendation for getting girls, on the other hand, is eating more vegetables to create an acidic environment but vegetables are alkaline-inducing foods. According to the above site, fruits, vegetables and leafy greens are the most alkaline. How do you create a more acidic environment for girls by eating more vegetables? Go figure! Is it true that eating more meat will help you conceive a boy? b) Through timing Dr Shettles said to get a boy, intercourse should occur as close as possible to the moment of ovulation so that the faster-swimming, Y-sperm arrive first to achieve conception. Deep penetration is recommended so that Y sperm is deposited as close as possible to the cervix, giving them an unfair head start against the slower girl-bearing X sperm in the race to the egg. Conversely, if you want to get a girl, go for shallow penetration to deposit sperm nearer to the vulva where it is thought to be more acidic (so that it inhibits Y sperm) and have sex two and a half to three days before ovulation. The Shettles Method has since been debunked by experts in various studies but you can try it out for yourself if you just want to check it out. However, notwithstanding which sex you want to go for, you still need to have knowledge of your ovulation so that you can time intercourse to conceive a baby (of whichever gender) in the first place. Myth #8: "Eating twin bananas will help me conceive twins." When my siblings and I were young, our mother used to jest that if we swallowed the seeds of the orange slices we ate, an orange tree would sprout out of the top of our heads. Eating twin bananas to conceive twins sounds just as preposterous. Neither myth can ever happen. Myth #8: "I conceived my first baby easily, my next pregnancy should be just as easy." Conception is never guaranteed even if you have conceived before. Conceiving with ease is not a given, even if you have conceived easily before. A number of factors could impede your ability to get pregnant again even after having had a child or children before. You\u2019ll be older, you may have less time to be spontaneous with your sex life, you might have complications due to your last pregnancy, your husband would be older too or you may even have re-married again. All of these can influence your chances of pregnancy. Myth #9: "I should have sex on the 14th day of my menstrual cycle, which is when I ovulate." The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but not every woman has the average! Every woman is unique. You are unique and have your own cycle. It has been found that nearly 50% of women\u2019s cycles vary in length by seven days or more. In a recent study of over 800 women, only 14% of women with a 28 day cycle actually ovulated on day 14. The day of ovulation ranged from day 11 to day 20.\u00a0 As menstrual cycles vary in length, so does the timing of ovulation, so it can be difficult to know\u00a0when exactly your fertile days are. What Can You Do To Find Out For Sure? ot everyone has a 28-day cycle. Even if you have a 28-day cycle as can be seen above, having sex on the 14th day after your period isn't always optimal. Typically, ovulation takes place about two weeks before your next expected period, so if you have a 32-day cycle, you can expect to ovulate around day 18. But are you absolutely sure? Use Clearblue Digital Ovulation test to Find Out In every cycle there are only a few days when a woman can conceive, so having sex on these days is very important if you are trying to get pregnant. The Clearblue Digital Ovulation test helps you identify your two most fertile days of each cycle. To be sure, you can rely on Clearblue\u00a0 Digital Ovulation test to give you digital accuracy in pinpointing the two days when you are most fertile and most likely to conceive. Clearblue is the world\u2019s top selling brand in home pregnancy and fertility tests, and there\u2019s a reason for that. Women trust the brand as they know it gives over 99% accuracy while providing you with clear digital results that you can read off the digital display easily. How Clearblue knows the exact dates of when you are ovulating is by measuring the level of a key fertility hormone called luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine. There will be a surge of LH 24 to 36 hours before ovulation. Clearblue detects this and tells you: these are your most fertile days. When trying to conceive, use these days to maximize your chances of conception naturally. Using Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test, you can get unmistakably clear digital results in three minutes. How to use Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test Using Clearblue Digital Ovulation test is really easy. \tFirst, you need to know your usual cycle length before you start, to ensure you test at the right time to find your LH surge. \tTo work out your cycle length, count the day your period starts (the first day of your full menstrual flow as Day 1, and continue counting through to the day before your next period starts. The number of days you have counted is your cycle length. \tOnce you know your cycle length, use the table below to find out when to start testing: Menstrual Cycle Table and when to test for LH surge. (Image Credit: Clearblue.com) Clearblue Digital Ovulation test works by detecting the hormone called luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine. From there, it can identify your two most fertile days. (Image Credit: Clearblue.com) How to Get Your Results All you need to do is to hold the tip of the Clearblue test stick in your urine stream for five seconds and within three minutes, it will tell you, through a digital smiley face appearing on the test stick, your two most fertile days prior to ovulation. This is the best time to have intercourse. The smiley face indicates the best time to place the sperm in prime position to fertilise your egg the moment you release it. (Image Credit: Clearblue.com) At the end of the day, in spite of all those interesting myths above, timing your ovulation and knowing when the best days are to conceive, is key to getting a baby. The best news is: you can achieve that with Clearblue. Try it today. To find out more about Clearblue, visit its\u00a0website here. And to know more about conception, pregnancy, birth and all matters related to motherhood, visit Motherhood.com.my.