After three decades of treating individuals with infertility factors, we’ve seen how much damage Infertility Myths can do. From waiting longer than you should to seek fertility testing and treatment to underestimating the impact age has on fertility, five common infertility myths need serious clarification.
Do You Believe Any of These 5 Infertility Myths?
Read through these myths to make sure you aren’t falling under their spell.
1. Age doesn’t matter now that there’s IVF
We celebrate anybody’s later-in-life pregnancy because we understand what a supreme joy it is to have a baby of your own. That said, the magazine covers in supermarket lines make it seem like it’s AOK to wait until you are 40 years old or more to get pregnant. However, that’s not a good plan at all.
Read Why Age Matters When You’re Trying to Have a Baby to read more about the relationship between age and fertility.
Bonus Note: The father’s age matters too. While the quality of the maternal egg is critical, we’ve learned that sperm quality also declines with age. Visit our post, What You Need to Know About the Male Biological Clock, for information on that topic.
2. If you’re infertile, you have to do IVF
We’ve had patients who have waited way too long to pursue fertility treatment because they thought IVF was their only option and felt it was too expensive. In fact, IVF is often the very last resort because other, more affordable fertility treatments may be a better fit, depending on your infertility diagnosis.
The first step is to get accurate fertility testing and diagnosis. From there, we’ll create a personalized fertility plan. It’s as simple for many as a cycle or two of Clomid (an oral fertility medication) and timed intercourse (see next). For others, a few rounds of IUI is sufficient to get pregnant. We only recommend IVF when it feels like it’s the only or most optimal fertility treatment.
3. You should only have sex on the day you ovulate
Like #1, we believe the media for perpetuating this myth as well. There is so much anecdotal material out there about calling your partner immediately when you know you’re ovulating to have pregnancy sex. Yes, it’s true that timing matters, but you have to do it right to, well, do it right.
It takes careful period tracking for several months in a row to determine your personal fertility window. Once you’ve identified that, we recommend having sex every day for the few days leading up to ovulation, as well as that day. That way, there are plenty of sperm hanging out and waiting for the egg’s arrival. If your husband has a low sperm count, your doctor may recommend having sex on an every-other-day cycle (without any ejaculation in between) before you ovulate. Read, When is the Best Time for Sex…, for more details.
Bonus Note: Having sex outside the “optimal fertility window” is also essential. In addition to keeping the romance alive, having sex more often, even when you’re not ovulating, keeps your immune system friendly with sperm, preventing the risk of an adverse immune response that attacks sperm or a fertilized egg later on.
4. Infertility is more of a women’s issue
Au contraire! When a woman can’t get pregnant, it’s common for everyone to focus on her. Actually, RESOLVE (the National Infertility Association) says that of the 12% of the adult population that struggles to get pregnant, “Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner, and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained.”
This is why fertility centers insist that male and female partners have complete infertility workups before pursuing infertility treatment.
5. Every woman skips periods from time to time
Please understand that irregular periods are never normal. Instead, they are always a sign that something is awry. For some, stress or overexercise may cause hormonal imbalances that affect the reproductive system. For other women, conditions such as PCOS or being over or underweight negatively impacts menstruation.
Any time you skip your period, your body isn’t ovulating either, and that requires investigation. If you have irregular periods, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to find out why. The sooner you find out and address the reason, the better chance you’ll have of getting pregnant when you’re ready.
Do you feel you’ve been negatively impacted by believing in one or more of these common infertility myths? Schedule a consultation with the Reproductive Resource Center to establish what’s going on and how we can help.