For many couples, when infertility issues present an obstacle to parenthood, they search for answers. However, infertility is complex and often misunderstood. And with so much information available at your fingertips on the internet, it’s sometimes hard to determine what is truth and what is just an old wives’ tale or infertility myths.
Here are eight common infertility myths to watch out for — and help dispel.
Myth 1: Infertility is usually the woman’s problem.
Sorry, guys! It surprises most people to learn that infertility is a female problem in only about 35% of all cases, a male problem in 35% of the cases, a combined problem of the couple in 20% of cases, and unexplained in 10% of cases. Doing the math, roughly half of all infertility cases have male factors as a cause. It is essential that both the man and the woman be evaluated during an infertility work-up.
Myth 2: If you just relax more you’ll get pregnant!
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system. It is a physical problem, not a psychological one. While relaxing may help you with your overall quality of life, the stress and deep emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not the cause of it. In fact, one or more physical causes are identified in the vast number of infertile couples. So while relaxing, going on vacation, or finding positive ways to de-stress can improve your overall well-being, these lifestyle changes won’t solve your infertility problems.
Myth 3: Infertility is incurable.
Improved medical techniques have made it easier to diagnose infertility problems. Once the cause of infertility has been determined, a plan can be customized for the patient to fit their unique situation and move them along on the path to conceiving a child. In fact, nearly 90% of infertility cases are treatable with medical therapies such as drug treatment, surgical repair of reproductive organs and assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization. Those who do not seek help have a “spontaneous cure rate” of about 5% after a year of infertility.
Myth 4: Infertility is rare.
It may seem that no other couples you know seem to have problems conceiving. But the truth is that one in every eight couples have problems with infertility in the U.S. Infertility is a sensitive issue, and often individuals do not feel free to share this with friends or family.
Myth 5: It’s easy for most women to get pregnant.
While it’s true that many woman conceive without difficulty, certain health conditions and factors, such as age, can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. For instance, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month; while by age 40, her chances drop to about 5 percent a month. But infertility can affect women of any age, and from any background.
Myth 6: Once a couple adopts a child, the woman will become pregnant.
This particular myth is not only painful for infertile couples to hear, but it’s also untrue. First of all, it suggests that adoption is simply a means to an end (a pregnancy), and not, in and of itself, a valid and wonderful way to form a family. Secondly, only about 5 percent of couples who do adopt later become pregnant. This success rate is the same for couples who don’t adopt and become pregnant without further treatment.
Myth 7: All couples should try to conceive for at least one full year before seeing a physician.
Strictly speaking, infertility is defined as one year of unprotected intercourse without conception. However, this does not mean that women over age 35 and those with a history of irregular periods, fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic adhesive disease, ectopic pregnancy or recurrent miscarriage should wait it out for a whole year. On the contrary, anyone who falls into any of these categories should seek help as soon as they decide the timing is right to start a family. This is also true for men with a history of surgery, infection or trauma to the genital organs. If either partner has known physical problems that may affect your fertility, don’t wait to get an evaluation.
Myth 8: Fertility treatments lead to triplets, quadruplets or more.
Fertility Answers’ goal, as well as that of the majority of reproductive specialists, is to help patients achieve a singleton pregnancy that is healthy and safe for the woman as well as the child. Multiple gestation, or more than one fetus in the womb, poses health risks for both the mother and child, taxes our health system, and can increase the risk of long term developmental problems for the child. Our treatment philosophy strives to increase the chances of achieving pregnancy while reducing the risk of multiples.