Busting Fertility Myths

Fertility legends and tall tales

It’s October, a spooky season well-suiting to telling scary stories and tall tales around a campfire. But anyone struggling through infertility is likely haunted by a few myths that drive them absolutely batty.

Here are a few fertility myths that simply need to be put to rest:

Just relax and it will happen.

Probably the most popular myth about infertility, this old canard and it’s fellow travelers (“I know someone who gave up trying and got pregnant right away,” and “you are just too stressed out”) have been tossed at every person who has ever struggled with infertility. At the heart of the myth is a maddening sense of blame, shame and guilt, especially for women.

According to this story in the Washington Post, “A meta-analysis of 14 studies with 3,583 women undergoing fertility treatments found that pretreatment emotional distress was not associated with outcomes.” Studies connecting stress and infertility paint an incomplete picture, at best, and do not establish a clear causal link between the too.

As for pregnancy “just happening,” paying attention to ovulation cycles and being aware and in touch with the most fertile times actual empowers couples to increase their chances of getting pregnant.

Just have sex every day and you’ll get pregnant.

Daily sex isn’t going to hurt anything, but it’s not necessarily going to help, either. Fertility isn’t as much about frequency as it is about timing.

Typically, women are most likely to become pregnant on the one day a month they ovulate, and the five days leading up to it. In a typical 28 day cycle, ovulation usually occurs somewhere between days 10 and 17 of their cycle.

Having sex daily during that week or so leading up to ovulation is helpful, but certainly not a guarantee of pregnancy. Couples with no fertility issues have only a 20 percent chance of conceiving during the most fertile period every month.

Fertility is a woman’s problem.

One in eight couples struggle with infertility, and in half those cases, male infertility plays a part.

Several physiological factors can negatively impact sperm production, motility and delivery. One of the most common is a varicocele, a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. Varicocele reduces the quality of the sperm. Other factors may include infections, blockages caused by tumors, chromosomal defects, or hormonal imbalances.

Environmental and lifestyle choices can also have an impact on male fertility. Exposure to certain industrial chemicals, heavy metals, radiation and/or heat may inhibit sperm production, and the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco may reduce sperm count, quality and delivery.

Fertility treatment should always include a thorough exam of both partners.

You’ve got plenty of time. I know people in their 40s who give birth to healthy children.

Age is the biggest factor in fertility, and time is not on your side, whether you are a man or a woman. For men, sperm volume and motility decrease as they age. It can take five times longer for couples to conceive if the male partner is more than 45 years old, and the risk of miscarriage is twice as high if the male partner is over the age of 45, even if the female partner is in her early 20s. For women, fertility begins to decline in her early 30s; at age 30, the chance of conceiving each month is about 20%, and by the time she reaches 40 it’s around 5%.

We’ve already had one child, so there shouldn’t be any problem having another.

Your body might have undergone a lot of changes since the last time you got pregnant and had a baby. If nothing else, you’re older now, and age has an impact on fertility. Secondary infertility is real, and it can be an even lonelier journey.

Fertility treatments cause multiple births.

While some treatments can increase the likelihood of twins, triples and higher order births, not all do and advances in treatments and techniques can help reduce risks. It is important to talk through this concern with your doctor.

 

To request an appointment with Tennessee Fertility Institute, please visit www.tnfertility.com/contact or (615) 721-6250

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Jenny Shanks

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