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Top Fertility Misconceptions

Top Fertility Misconceptions

Infertility is widely misunderstood, despite increased public awareness of the issue of infertility. The more couples and individuals know earlier in their lives about the realities of fertility, the more effectively they can achieve their family dreams. So if you’re in the baby-making market, here are some of the fertility misconceptions.


Misconception: I know my biological clock is ticking, but my eggs are fine until 40.
The Reality: Women are born with seven million eggs, but only 400,000 remain at puberty. Ovarian reserve declines as a woman ages, with egg supply rapidly declining in her late 20s and again in the 30s, particularly after 35. Pregnancy rates in the early 30s are 15 percent, then decline to 10 percent after 35 and 5 percent over 40.

It’s important that women not only understand their personal fertility, but are empowered to make informed decisions about family planning. Should women choose to delay childbearing until the late 30s, they can freeze their eggs to preserve their biological clock.

Misconception: I am healthy, my age won’t affect my fertility.
The Reality: Being healthy and fit can aid in pregnancy, but the age of your eggs is unaffected by your fitness and diet regimen. Age is the most critical component of fertility potential. It is very common for women to misunderstand the relationship between fitness and fertility potential. While being healthy and fit can boost fertility in a variety of ways, it does not change the fact that the quality and quantity of egg supply declines with age.

Misconception: We have sex often enough.
Reality: Busy professional couples are surprised they aren’t pregnant, yet they only sleep together in the same bed, let alone on the same continent, once every month or two.

Just remember: Even someone very fertile and her partner, both in their 20s and in perfect health, will, at best, have about a 25% chance of conceiving in any given month, even with perfectly timed intercourse. This so-called fertile window is open four to five days prior and through ovulation, and it’s suggested you have intercourse every 24 to 48 hours during that period. Statistically speaking, this rate of success decreases to about 10% to 15% per month if you’re not pregnant within three months, and 5% or less if you’re not pregnant after a year.

Misconception: Fertility problems always arise from the female side
Reality: Multiple historical, cultural, and religious forces have led many women (and, conveniently enough, men) to assume that fertility problems almost always arise from the female side. It’s not an illogical assumption. After all, a woman’s reproductive system is a lot more complicated than a man’s, and therefore has more components that can be broken.

The reality is that men can have plenty of trouble too. Sperm issues such as low sperm count or abnormal/unhealthy sperm are the primary problem in 25% to 35% of infertile couples, and some reports indicate that worldwide, male infertility is on the rise. The reason why is still unclear, but some theories suggest toxins from environmental exposure could be at work.

Furthermore, even in couples with female-related fertility issues, mild sperm defects often contribute just enough to make achieving a pregnancy difficult, if not impossible, without help. For these reasons, it’s crucial that men be involved with the infertility evaluations from the outset, usually starting with a semen analysis. If a serious abnormality is identified, consultation with a urologist or further testing will likely be necessary.

Misconception: All I need to do is relax.
Reality: There is no question that high stress is associated with infertility, and that infertility is associated with lots of stress. While the exact biology of how stress might come into play is not fully understood, substances such as cortisol, epinephrine, melatonin, opioids, and others are known to affect stress and reproduction.

This so-called mind–body approach to infertility treatment has gained enormous popularity in recent years. But whether stress can actually contribute to infertility—and, more importantly, whether reducing stress can actually help you get pregnant—is still a controversial issue.

Given this uncertainty, couples trying to conceive should do things to reduce stress in their lives , there is no doubt this is, at some level, a good thing, regardless of how much it improves their ability to conceive.

Misconceptions: Fertility treatment means I’m going to end up like Octomom.
Reality: Pursuing fertility treatment does not mean you need to price the newest double strollers and build an addition to your home.

While multiple pregnancies have always been the biggest risk of fertility treatment, professional fertility organizations have been working to reduce multiple pregnancies since the early 1990s. For example, guidelines for the number of embryos to transfer have helped reduce the IVF “triplet-or-more” rate by more than 70% since the late 1990s, with only less than 2% of IVF pregnancies in that category in 2008.

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