Common infertility myths

fertility

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 7.3 million people are affected by infertility in the United States. That’s roughly 12 percent of the reproductive-age population. There are a lot of myths floating around about infertility and many of them are not based on facts. Below are some of the most common infertility myths couples hear:

Because I’m having periods I should be able to get pregnant
This is most commonly heard by women in their late 30s to 40 years old. The issue is that advanced maternal age (35 years of age and older) increases the likelihood that an egg released is not chromosomally normal and thus not successfully implanting, despite the woman having normal periods.

Because my husband had children in a prior marriage I know he is normal and I’m the problem
Time can change things for men in that lifestyle changes, potential environmental exposure in a new job, and changes in medical conditions as they have gotten older, can affect sperm form and function.

If I quit my stressful job and relax, I can get pregnant
Extremely high levels of stress, can affect fertility by altering the brain hormones that regulate egg formation and ovulation; however, the stress levels would have to be high enough to see significant changes in the menstrual cycle. The kind of stress that might do this would be an extreme exercise program, a crash diet with dramatic weight loss, anorexia or an eating disorder, or stresses that require medications to decrease anxiety or to aid in treating insomnia.

If you or your partner suspect that you might not be able to conceive, here are some steps to follow:

  • Start by sitting down with your partner and reviewing how long and what you have been doing to try to get pregnant.
    • Create a menstrual calendar listing the start of each period, the flow days and quantity of flow. Then calculate the time from each cycle start to the next cycle start.
    • If you have regular periods and have used ovulation predictor kits to time intercourse, count each as a “cycle try.”
    • If your cycles are irregular (not in the 26-30 day range) you should consult your physician.
  • If you are less than 35 years old  have more than six cycle tries or you are over 35 and have more than three cycle tries, call your obstetrician/gynecologist or a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
  • Get educated on the issues related to ovulation, the female reproductive system and male fertility. Learn what factors might apply to you as a couple and look into talking with your physician to complete your evaluation. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (http://www.reproductivefacts.org/ ) is a resource to help you get started on your desire to have a family.

To learn more about The Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, please click here.

Part two is now available here.

About Dr. Paul Zarutskie, reproductive endocrinologist and obstetrician/gynecologist

I am a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and obstetrician/gynecologist. I have worked extensively with healthcare providers, researchers, policymakers and regulatory authorities to advance expertise and outcomes in reproductive medicine.
Posted in Family Fertility Center, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pavilion for Women

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