If you are undergoing fertility treatments of any kind, odds are you are fairly well-versed in the facts and statistics regarding in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies. Even so, there may be a fact or two (or 12) that you haven’t yet learned.

Here is a list of 12 facts about infertility and IVF that may surprise you. It’s always good to learn a little something new!

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  1. Infertility isn’t as uncommon as you would think. When you are trying to get pregnant, it feels like everyone around you is a Fertile Myrtle. There is a baby in every abdomen that walks by…or so it seems. In fact, infertility affects about 12% of the population so you are definitely not alone.
  2. Even IVF pregnancies can become ectopic. Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. Typically, ectopic – or tubal – pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes although they can take place elsewhere. You would think that since IVF transfers an embryo directly into the uterus, ectopic pregnancies wouldn’t be possible. However, uterine contractions that occur post-transfer can cause the embryo to move elsewhere. In fact, ectopic pregnancies are more common (2% – 5%) with IVF than with natural conceptions (1% to 2.5%).
  3. Acupuncture can increase your IVF success rate. There is more than one study out there that correlates acupuncture with IVF success. Studies from Germany, Denmark and Canada have all linked increased implantation and live birth rates with specialized acupuncture used before, during and after the IVF cycles.
  4. Need IVF? Move to the Land Down Under. If you are worried about financing your IVF treatments, you may want to consider becoming a legal resident of Australia. The Australian Medicare system as well as their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, subsidizes IVF cycles. However, the price of your roundtrip tickets and higher living expenses will probably cancel out the financial assistance.
  5. Using younger eggs give you youthful fertility advantages. Many women don’t realize that younger donor eggs place your chances of a live birth in the same category as the donors’ hypothetical IVF chances for success. This can make a big difference in your potential IVF success. If you are in your 40’s and you use a donor egg from a woman who is 22, you will have the same chances of a live birth as a 22-year old women who undergoes IVF treatments with their own eggs.
  6. IVF treatments aren’t as common as you would think. When you are living in the world of IVF cycles, you are surrounded by a population of people undergoing the same treatments, even if your contact is via blogs, online support groups and other social networks. In fact, only about 5% of couples who experience infertility actually move forward with IVF.
  7. Eggs harvested does not equal eggs fertilized. Your eggs will be carefully screened to make sure they have everything required to produce a healthy embryo. So, although your doctor may harvest 10 to 20 eggs, it may be that only a small portion of these can actually be used to create embryos for IVF transfer.
  8. You are more likely to have identical twins from a multiple embryo transfer. Yep! You read that right. Everyone (or almost everyone) knows that fraternal twins (or triplets!) are more likely if you proceed with a multiple embryo transfer. What most people don’t know is that identical twins (resulting from a single zygote that splits) are also more likely when you use IVF. The reasons why are still being researched, but experts think it’s due to the single prick required for fertilization and/or the preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) where a single cell removed for anlysis.
  9. Quadruplets and higher-orders of multiples are rarely the result of IVF. So, the Octomom and others have been promoted in the media, (which hasn’t always shed the most positive light on IVF treatment), they are actually atypical. Most higher numbers of multiples, from quadruplets on up, occur more often as the result of a fertility treatment called intrauterine insemination (IUI).
  10. More ejaculation is better. Men will be happy to learn that the more often they masturbate – and/or ejaculate – the healthier their sperm tend to be. The old way of thinking had men abstain from masturbating two to three days prior to an IVF cycle to increase sperm count. Now, we have learned that more frequent masturbation in the days leading up to your Official Sperm Sample for the IVF cycle results in sperm with better motility and morphology.
  11. Healthy sleep habits make for better IVF cycles. Are you pacing the house in the middle of the night, whispering sweet nothings to your future baby in his/her future nursery? STOP! Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis increases the success rate of IVF cycles. Women who get too little (less than 5 hours a night) or too much (10 hours or more) sleep each night have lower IVF success rates than women who get an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  12. Being famous doesn’t make you more fertile. Sometimes it seems like the celebrities have it all. However, they’re just as susceptible to infertility as the rest of us. If you are using infertility treatments, including IVF, you are sharing the boat with the likes of Celine Dion, Matthew Broderick, Mariah Carey, Courtney Cox, Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett, Hugh Jackman, Ricky Martin, Jamie Leigh Curtis and Christopher Guest, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Jane Seymore, Angela Bassett, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Kelsey Grammer, Nicole Kidman, Kirstey Alley and Sherri Shepherd.

Did you learn anything new? We hope so. What are some of the interesting or surprising facts you’ve learned about infertility or IVF lately? Share them with us in the RRC comment box below.

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net

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When you are trying to get pregnant…and trying, and trying and trying… you’re bound to hear more than your fair share of well-meaning advice regarding how to successfully conceive. Unfortunately, people seem to think that you’ve never Googled before, been to a doctor, or learned everything you possibly can about anything related to the human reproductive system – male and female – as well as all the factors that make it possible for these two systems to cooperate and make a baby already!!!!! Good Grief!

In many cases, by the time our clients have finally made an appointment, they are almost as well-versed as we are as to the hows and whys of pregnancy and assisted reproductive technology. In the meantime, they have to hear an infinite list of asinine advice and suggestions from family, friends and – of course – perfect strangers.

Here is some of the worst advice we’ve ever heard about fertility and how to “fix” it.

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1.      Just relax and it will happen in time! Yeah. Well, that would be nice wouldn’t it? Just relax and your baby will arrive in nine months. Sure, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence regarding couples who finally adopted and wound up conceiving soon thereafter, but these stories are not really all that common. New studies show that women with high stress levels do have a harder time conceiving, but stress is rarely the only reason a couple isn’t getting pregnant. The best reason to relax is for your own health and peace of mind as you work with your doctors to get pregnant. However, we do have some suggestions if you want to get away and relax to escape all the irritating people who are giving you bad advice…

2.     Honey, give it up. After 35, you’re clock is done ticking… Ouch! That one hurts. While it’s true that it gets harder with every year after age 35, assisted reproductive technology has come a long way and fertility is completely possible into your 40s.

3.     Don’t have too much sex or he won’t have any sperm left. Oops! There’s someone who missed a line or two in their Anatomy and Physiology 101 book. In fact, unless diagnosed otherwise, most men produce an ample supply of sperm on a regular basis. If you have sex every day, each of your partner’s successive ejaculations may have a lower sperm count than if he abstains from ejaculating for a few days. HOWEVER – sperm live for up to five days in your vagina – so it all evens out. We advise couples trying to get pregnant to have sex regularly leading up to ovulation so there are millions of sperm waiting to meet the egg when she makes her appearance.

4.     Use a turkey baster to get the sperm higher up “there.” Perhaps the “there” was the first clue that this “advisor” isn’t completely up to date on how babies are made. Your turkey baster won’t get the sperm any higher than an erect penis with a healthy sperm count. If you are interested in getting the sperm closer than Mother Nature designed, you will need to consult with a fertility specialist who can transfer it all the way into your uterus (Intrauterine Insemination or IUI) for you. Save your turkey baster for Thanksgiving.

5.     Get drunk and do it! Hm. Well, perhaps this particular piece of advice is more specifically related to #1 – Just Relax! The problem is that there is a significant amount of research out there about the effects of alcohol and fertility, not to mention healthy fetal development, so when you’re trying to conceive, it’s always better to eat well and abstain from chemicals – both internally and in your environment – as much as possible.

6.     Just accept that it just isn’t your time. Well, if it’s not your time, why is it time for the teenage mother of three you just saw on that reality TV show? It’s not anybody’s “time” to get pregnant. Pregnancy is a combination of genetics, environmental factors, timing, anatomical and medical conditions and chance. If your religious or spiritual beliefs align with the idea that it is or isn’t your time, that’s fine too but it won’t help you feel better while you’re desperate to conceive. We are fans of the “Time Theory,” in the sense that if you have tried to get pregnant for 12 months or more (six months if you’re in your 30s) we recommend meeting with a fertility specialist sooner rather than later. We can find out if something is anatomically or medically the cause for your infertility, giving you a longer period of time to explore your options.

What is some of the worst and/or most frustrating advice you’ve received regarding infertility? We’d love to hear your vents in the RRC comment box below.

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net/David Castillo Dominici

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The History of IVF Part II

October 9, 2014

While every baby is considered a miracle, Louise Joy Brown was a miracle multiple times over. Born on July 25, 1978, she was the result of more than 100 years of cumulative research and experimentation on the human reproductive system. In The History of IVF – Part 1, we started with the discovery of the [...]

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The History of IVF Part I

October 2, 2014

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a remarkable technology that has allowed more than five million babies to be born to parents who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to conceive. It is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which the sperm and egg are fertilized outside of the human body. The resulting embryo is [...]

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