If you are struggling to conceive the baby you long for, you are not alone. Approximately 1 on 10 couples in the US are dealing with infertility – defined as being unable to get pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.
For such a widespread issue, there is a lot of misinformation around when it comes to infertility and fertility treatments and solutions.
In this article we will look at six common myths about fertility and the truth behind them.
Myth #1: Infertility is a Woman’s Issue
Historically, infertility has been associated with women rather than men. This is probably because women are those who carry children, and therefore failure to fall pregnant has long been blamed on the woman in the equation.
However, figures from major Government bodies such as the National Institute of Health show that men and women are equally likely to suffer from conditions relating to infertility.
These figures show that in all US infertility cases:
- Approximately one third of cases were attributable to the male partner
- Approximately one third of cases were attributable to the female partner
- The remaining third were due to a combination of male and female factors, or unexplained problems
In men, infertility is most commonly due to low sperm count, poor sperm movement and abnormal sperm shape, lowering the likelihood to conceive. For women, there are a range of conditions which may cause infertility, some of the main ones being irregular ovulation, diminished ovarian reserve and endometriosis.
Myth #2: Age Causes Infertility
It is true that age is a major causal factor in infertility: in women will experience a decline in fertility by as much a 50% between the ages of 32 and 37. Furthermore, aging does not just impact on infertility in women, but also men: men experience a reduced ability to conceive after the age of 40 due to lower sperm counts and motility.
However, age is by far for the only determining factor when it comes to infertility. There are many health and hormonal conditions which can effect a couple’s ability to conceive. Low estrogen levels can be caused by several disorders, and will often disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle, affecting infertility. Such disorders include thyroid disease, which causes hormonal imbalances, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Services like Verisana can allow you to perform tests at home to identify if you have an imbalance in any of the critical hormones. If you identify an abnormality, you can then take the results to a doctor to discuss your options to overcome this.
Myth #3:Stress is a Cause of Infertility
Many people believe that stress causes infertility, and this has even been reported in reputable publications. However, scientific studies have shown no documented link between stress and either infertility, nor does it impact on the effectiveness of infertility treatments.
There may, however, be an indirect link between stress and infertility, due to other effects of stress which in turn impact on infertility. For example, people under stress will often resort to smoking or drinking, both of which impact on infertility.
Myth #4: You Just Have To Try Harder and You’ll Succeed
There are many different ways to address infertility which are continually improving couples who are struggling with infertility chances of conceiving. Experts suggest that more than half of couples who seek infertility treatment will be able to conceive sooner or later.
However, on the flipside, a significant number of couples will not be able to conceive no matter how they try, due to incurable medical conditions. It is important to recognise this reality rather than treating a failure to conceive in these cases as a lack of trying hard enough. In these cases, many other options exist for couples seeking to have children, such as surrogacy, donor sperm or ova, and adoption.
Myth #5: Health and Infertility are Not Linked
In the midst of cutting edge infertility treatments, it can be easy to forget that some of the simplest solutions can also be effective in addressing infertility. General health can adversely affect infertility, and implementing a healthy lifestyle can make a real difference.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet supplemented by taking vitamins and minerals to ensure you get enough nutrients can improve your chances of conceiving. Excessive alcohol, drug use and smoking can also impact on your chances of getting pregnant, so cut down on these also.
Myth #6: IVF is Successful For Most People
IVF, or in vitro fertilisation, has helped many couples to have a child since the first “test-tube” baby was born in 1978. The process involves taking sperm and an egg from the couple, fertilising them outside the body in a laboratory (“in vitro”) and then transferring the embryo into the uterus.
According to CNN, more than 8 million babies have now been born using IVF technology. These incredible figures mean that people generally think IVF has a much higher success rate than it really does. In fact, the overall success rate for couples using one round of IVF in the US is between 25 and 29 percent. A success rate of just over one quarter makes IVF not only stressful, invasive and expensive (one round of IVF runs at around $10,000 to $15,000), but essentially a gamble.