If you’re trying to conceive, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of mixed information out there. Fertility myths are abundant, and they come from everywhere – friends with kids, mothers-in-law, glossy magazines, and pregnancy chat boards. With all this information, it can be hard to separate fertility facts from fiction.
But the problem with fertility myths is that they’re not only misleading – they can also create further fertility problems for women. Fertility myths sprout a kind of fiction that may deter women from seeking help sooner – and from truly understanding how their bodies work.
So, let’s break down some of the most popular fertility facts and fertility myths, and get some clarity on the situation.
The Myth: I’m Fit for My Age, So My Eggs Are Too.
Many women reach their late 30s and early 40s feeling like they’re still in their 20s. Some women may even look as if they are. But unfortunately, good genetics and healthy living can only go so far when it comes to your reproductive health.
While good genes and a healthy lifestyle may, for example, put you in a healthy weight range to conceive, the truth is – you can’t prevent eggs (or sperm) from aging.
As it turns out, aging eggs are one of the main causes of infertility, no matter your general health. And after about age 35, the quality and quantity of those eggs will begin to decline.1
The Myth: Infertility is a “Woman’s Issue.”
It’s a common misconception that if a couple is trying unsuccessfully to conceive, something must be wrong with the woman’s reproductive health.
But research shows that infertility is due to the woman in only about one-third of cases. Another third is attributed to male infertility, and the final third is a combination of both male and female factors.2
So, armed with this info, both the male and female partner should seek to have a full fertility check-up.
The Myth: Infertility Only Happens to Women Over 35.
While it’s more common for a couple over the age of 35 to have trouble conceiving, younger couples may also experience issues. Age may be on your side in your 20s – but you still only have a 25-30 percent chance of conceiving each month.3
Even if the eggs and sperm are in great condition, you may still run into problems in other areas of reproductive health. So, don’t put off talking to a fertility specialist because you think you’re too young to have infertility challenges. When it comes to your reproductive health, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor about your individual needs.
The Myth: My Period’s Always on Time, So My Fertility Must Be Good.
It can be a great asset to have an “on-time” period while trying to conceive, as it makes it much easier to calculate your fertile days. However, a regular period does not determine your fertility. Fertility involves much more than just egg release.
For example, in order to conceive, you also need:
- Viable sperm
- An egg that successfully travels down through the fallopian tube
- Sperm that successfully fertilizes the egg (AKA good timing)
- A fertilized egg to attach itself to the inside of the uterus4
Many factors contribute to your fertility – and certain medical conditions can prevent each of these steps from successfully happening.
The Myth: I Waited Too Long to Have Kids.
There’s no doubt that age has one of the greatest effects on fertility success rates. And though age may be working against your natural fertility, the good news is – there are many assisted fertility options for women in their late 30s and 40s.
If you’re older, don’t wait a year trying to conceive before speaking to your doctor. He or she can set you up from the beginning with a plan on how to best achieve your fertility goals. This will likely include both partners taking some preliminary tests to assess your individual needs.5
The Myth: I Got Pregnant Easily the First Time, So I Will Again.
You only need to speak to a handful of mothers with more than one child to know – this simply isn’t true. Sure, it may be the case for some people, but an easy first attempt at getting pregnant never guarantees an easy second one.
If you’ve had no problem conceiving in the past, but you’re struggling to conceive again, you might be dealing with something called secondary infertility.6
Keep in mind – age is the greatest barrier to fertility, and you will age (if only a few years) between having children. It’s also important to note that some women experience secondary infertility due to their first pregnancy – such as complications, scarring, or weight gain.
The Myth: IVF Almost Always Results in Multiple Births.
Sometimes, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the only option for couples trying to conceive. And while it might be a relief to have the option, it may also be stressful to consider – because many people equate IVF and multiple births. However, the odds of this happening may be lower than you realize.
In fact, the chance of IVF multiples has recently decreased – because many doctors are now transferring only one embryo at a time in order to prevent multiple births. The number of multiple pregnancies after a Single Embryo Transfer (SET) is approximately 1.6 percent.7
Multiples are more likely with the use of fertility stimulation drugs (often an economical first step before IVF). Medications like clomiphene citrate have a rate of approximately 5 to 12 percent for twins. And gonadotropin results in a much higher 30 percent chance of multiples.8
The Myth: Birth Control Pills Decrease Fertility.
The contraceptive pill does not cause infertility. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been taking it. In fact, many medical specialists believe that this type of birth control may help fertility by protecting against pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and ectopic pregnancy.9
Though some women’s hormones may take a few months to settle back in after stopping the birth control pill, there is no evidence that this affects fertility.
Fertility Facts – Education is Power
It’s so important to separate fertility facts from fertility myths. There is already plenty of uncertainty when you’re trying to conceive, so who needs misinformation?
Remember that reproductive health is comprised of many factors. Teaming up early with a fertility expert is a great idea for getting a rounded view of your current fertility – and your partner’s as well.10
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