Getting pregnant can take time. And when you're ready to have a child and want one as soon as possible, it's understandable that some may want to speed up the process.
Well, there's one hack that's floating around the internet that's definitely unusual. Several women online swear they've gotten pregnant faster by using a menstrual cup. Specifically, women will insert the cup after having sex to try to hold sperm close to their cervix, the entrance to the uterus.
Menstrual cups, in case you're not familiar with them, are reusable alternatives to tampons that are designed to catch period blood during that time of the month. But is this an effective way to speed up conception? And are there any risks involved with it? Here's what you need to know.
Can a menstrual cup help you get pregnant?
There have been no scientific studies on this, so it's really hard to say for sure, Dr. Christine Greves, an ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells Yahoo Life. "So many factors go into getting pregnant," she says. "It's really hard to say for sure."
But "theoretically, keeping sperm closer to the cervix could help increase the chances of pregnancy," Dr. Iris Insogna of Columbia University Fertility Center, tells Yahoo Life, adding that "cervical caps have been marketed for this purpose."
The theory behind using cervical caps (which can also be used during sex to try to prevent pregnancy) to help with conception "is that they increase the time that sperm are near the cervix and could potentially help improve the chances that sperm move through the cervix into the uterus and then into the fallopian tube where fertilization with a recently ovulated egg can occur," Insogna explains.
The concept is the same with a menstrual cup, women's health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider, tells Yahoo Life. "The idea is that the menstrual cup acts as a blockade, encouraging the sperm to move in one direction toward the cervix and gateway to the uterus," she says. "It increases the odds that the sperm would make its way toward the egg."
But Insogna says she's a little concerned about going this route. "These cups have not been specifically designed or evaluated for this purpose," she says. "I like to practice evidence-based medicine, and currently there aren't any data that support the use of menstrual cups for conception."
OK, but is it safe to try this?
Yes..ish. "It is a fairly low-risk option, but it's not without risk," Wider says. "Keeping the menstrual cup in place for an extended period of time can increase the risk of an infection like yeast or bacterial overgrowth, leading to bacterial vaginosis."
Going this route may also draw out the time you wait to seek help from a doctor or fertility specialist if you're having trouble conceiving, Insogna points out. "If you are having trouble conceiving, you should talk to your doctor first and consider seeing a fertility specialist," she says. "We can evaluate for several factors that might be contributing to someone's difficulty in conceiving and can identify the most effective ways to help."
Still, if you're trying to conceive on your own, have never had any issues in the past and just want to see if this makes a difference, Greves says you're probably OK to give it a go, considering that "there's no harm in using one for menstruation." She adds: "It doesn't seem like there's a big risk with this."
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