Historically, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (or six months for those 35 years or older.) Fertility myths and misconceptions can complicate efforts to correct the problem. Let’s look at some myths and facts about fertility and the care available to help.
Myth #1: Fertility Problems Are Rare
Not true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at infertility in the United States among heterosexual women. About 1 in 5 or 19% of women aged 15 – 49 with no prior births experience the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying. Of the women in this group, 1 in 4, or 26%, report problems carrying a pregnancy to full term when pregnancy occurs.
Myth #2: Men Don’t Experience Infertility
This is a fertility myth. In about 40% of infertility cases, studies have determined that male fertility issues are a contributing cause of heterosexual couples having trouble conceiving. Problems in men can range from abnormalities of sperm parameters to hormonal, genetic, and anatomical issues that affect male fertility.
Myth #3: Fertility Care Is Always Expensive
Another fertility myth debunked. The National Institute of Health reports that conventional medical therapies, such as medication or surgery, can be a treatment in some cases of infertility. Many insurance plans provide coverage for these conventional treatments. Some insurances might also cover treatments such as IUI or IVF. The type of treatment covered varies, so it’s important to check your policy to determine your coverage. Most fertility practices offer financial counseling to help you understand the costs, and some charitable foundations provide financial assistance and grants to those in need. At Dominion Fertility, we also partner with many financing providers that help our patients afford care.
Myth #4: Irregular Periods Can Lead to Infertility
This is one of the more common women’s health fertility myths. Irregular periods do not indicate infertility. While irregular periods can make it harder to conceive by making it more difficult to determine ovulation or might indicate that a woman is not ovulating, infertility is not an automatic result. If irregular cycles concern you, make an appointment with your gynecologist, especially if you’ve not had a period for three or four months.
Myth #5: Infertility Means You’ll Never Get Pregnant
False. The length of time you’ve experienced infertility is irrelevant and has no bearing on your ability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. Usually, all that’s needed is the proper treatment for conception to happen. While some couples have issues preventing them from getting pregnant, there is ample documentation to show that even severe cases of infertility requiring multiple rounds of treatment can result in a successful pregnancy.
Myth #6: Weight Doesn’t Affect Fertility
False. Being underweight or overweight can adversely affect your level of fertility. A healthy body is an essential ingredient when trying to get pregnant. If weight is a potential issue to your fertility, discuss weight loss or weight gain programs with your doctor.
Myth #7: Smoking Has No Impact on Fertility
This is a myth. Evidence supports that smoking cigarettes contributes to infertility in both men and women. Smoking is linked to an accelerated loss of reproductive function and may trigger the start of menopause by one to four years. Evidence also suggests that smoking may increase the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus.) Among women and men of reproductive age in the United States, approximately 30% of women and 35% of men smoke cigarettes.
Myth #8: Women Can’t Get Pregnant After 35
This myth is quite common. The peak reproductive years for a woman are her late teens and continuing into her late 20s. Around age 30, a woman’s ability to get pregnant declines, and this process becomes more rapid around age 35. However, many women older than 35 experience pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. By age 45, a woman’s fertility has declined to the point that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely, but pregnancy can still happen with medical intervention.
Myth #9: Certain Foods Cause Infertility
Not true. There are no foods directly linked to infertility. And on the flip side, eating the core of a pineapple won’t help with embryo implantation. No scientific evidence points to gluten as a cause of infertility, and following a gluten-free diet won’t improve your odds of conceiving. Unless you are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting dairy, there’s no reason to avoid milk and other dairy products when trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy.
While there’s no food that will cause infertility or magically make you fertile, infertility specialists encourage healthy eating in general as it will support a healthy pregnancy.
Myth #10: Birth Control Impairs Your Fertility
Another of the fertility myths debunked. Being on birth control does not impair your fertility. Hormonal birth control pills prevent a woman’s ovaries from ovulating by altering her hormone levels. Also, cervical mucous becomes thicker, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and penetrate the egg. Studies found that oral contraceptives have no adverse effect on pregnancy rates immediately after cessation of the pills or at one-year post-contraceptive. In addition, using oral contraceptives does not amplify the negative effects of aging on fertility.
Fertility Myths Debunked
Many couples struggle with infertility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five, or 19% of women aged 15 – 49 with no prior births experience the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying. Among American men, nearly 9%, ages 25 – 44, have visited a doctor about it, or their partner saw a doctor.
Infertility is mysterious to many, leaving the subject open to the growth of myths and misconceptions. These myths can work their way into the culture, where they can impair peoples’ understanding of their options and their decision-making. Make sure you’re staying on top of the latest information about infertility and discuss your options with your physician.
The first step in your fertility journey to parenthood is meeting with a reproductive physician. Contact Dominion Fertility to get the family-building help you need.