Modern-day fertility superstitions

Folk remedies for couples trying to conceive

 

Fertility rituals aren't just a thing of the ancient past. Many contemporary couples who are trying to conceive will tack on a few superstitions to their regimen of prescription medication and charting their basal body temperature.  
 
The one I have heard most often is to plant a rosemary bush in your front yard. I know of three couples who have done this. Although that might speak more to the fact that rosemary grows well in our climate than to the popularity of this myth. (All three ended up conceiving, by the way. Although I'm not sure if the rosemary bush had as much to do with that as the IVF procedure.)
 
For women who are already pregnant, few things are as obnoxious or awkward as the way that suddenly it's fair game for complete strangers - men and women both - to walk up and start stroking your belly with their hands. So please be courteous and ask politely before doing this!
 
This superstition has obvious roots in the magical concept of transference. Logically we know that touching a pregnant person won't pass the magical pregnancy power to ourselves. But it's an appealing thought to women who are trying to conceive. And it's a great way to strike up a conversation about the difficulties of pregnancy.
 
This superstition actually has its roots in observable fact. Researchers noted that the rate of twins in the African village of Igbo-Ora is higher than anywhere else in the world. After controlling for all the factors they could think of, the researchers finally decided that it must be all the yams that the villagers eat.
 
It should be noted that no subsequent study was ever able to prove a link between yams and twins, and that this is probably just a case of "correlation does not imply causation." But it should also be noted that yams are good for you, and you should eat them anyway.
 
In the 1980s researchers theorized that the primary ingredient in Robitussin (guaifenesin) might be helpful for couples trying to conceive. Their theory was that it would help thin cervical mucus the same way that it thins sinus mucus. 
 
This turned out not to be the case (P.S. your cervix is not the same as your nose) but nevertheless it served to cement this popular cough medicine as an OTC fertility treatment.
 
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Image courtesy Flickr/shainlee

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