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6 Common Myths About Fertility

There’s a lot of information out there, and we know it can be difficult to sort through it all–especially when it comes to something as important as your family. That’s why we’re here—to be your fertility guide! Let’s clear up some of the common misconceptions we hear about fertility.

If Janet Jackson can have her first child in her late 40s, all women can—right?

FALSE.

Not so much. Yes, Janet Jackson announced her first pregnancy at age 49. Actress Marcia Cross had twins at age 44, as did actress Marcia Gay Harden. Late-in-life celebrity pregnancies are in the news consistently. What doesn’t make the news that often is that there’s a very high likelihood that these pregnancies were assisted by reproductive technology, like in vitro fertilization or working with an egg donor.

Celebrities that decide to become pregnant later in life also have thousands of dollars to dedicate to these fertility treatments, which aren’t always covered by health insurance.

Women have fewer eggs as they get older, and they also experience reduced egg quality. Egg quality refers to the state of an egg as being genetically normal or genetically abnormal, and as a woman ages, a higher percentage of her egg reserve is genetically normal.

In a study of over 1 million pregnancies, it was found that risk of miscarriage for women over 40 42 were over 1 in 2; by age 45, over 90%75% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC27416/)

So, yes, women can have babies in their late 40s, The chance of a successful pregnancy in women aged 40 years or more is poorbut there is a progressive decrease that begins at the time of “peak” fertility in our teens and early 20s and accelerates in our mid-to-late 30s.

 

To get pregnant, you and your partner just need to relax.

FALSE.

While it’s true relaxing could help with infertility caused by chronic stress, infertility isn’t purely a psychological issue. Infertility is a medical condition. Your physical, reproductive health can’t be fixed by positive thinking, a refreshing vacation, or a new mindset.

 

Fertility is a woman’s issue.

FALSE.

It’s not just women that can be infertile. Men can be infertile too. In fact, men and women are equally likely to have fertility problems. About one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to female infertility while men’s problems account for another third of infertility cases. The remaining third of cases may be caused by a combination of male and female infertility, or they may have no known cause.

(Reference: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility)

For the most part, infertility in men is related to issues with the quantity or quality of sperm:

• effective production of sperm

• sperm count, or the number of sperm

• shape of the sperm

• movement of the sperm, which includes both the wiggling motion of the sperm themselves and the transport of the sperm through the tubes of the male reproductive system

Male infertility can also be attributed to certain medical conditions, medications or drugs:

• retrograde ejaculation

• varicocele, or the swelling of the veins around within the testicles testicles that haven’t descended into the scrotumvaricocele is similar to a varicose vein you might see in your leg.

• having antibodies that attack your sperm and destroy them

• a hormonal imbalance, such as low testosterone production

• chemotherapy or radiation therapy

• sulfasalazine and cimetidine may cause male fertility problem (Azulfidine, Azulfidine EN-Tabs), which is used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or ulcerative colitis (UC)

• calcium channel blockers, which are used for high blood pressure

• tricyclic antidepressants

• anabolic steroids, which are used for improved athletic performance or hormonal issues

• recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine

• long-term use of high-dosage nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin (Bayer) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

 

There’s not much a doctor can do to help male infertility.

FALSE.

Men should plan to see a doctor after one year of trying to conceive or if any of the following apply:

• erectile dysfunction (ED)

• problems with ejaculation

• low sex drive

• pain or swelling in the genital area

• having undergone a previous surgery in the genital area

Your doctor will first take your medical history. During this time, they’ll ask about your overall health, your sexual history, and factors that could affect your fertility. They’ll also perform a physical examination where they check your genitals for any structural abnormalities or lumps.

A semen analysis will likely then be performed, to see how many sperm are present and whether the sperm are shaped normally and moving properly.

Depending on the results of your initial exam and semen analysis, your doctor may want to perform additional genetic or hormone tests.

 

Male infertility can’t be treated.

FALSE.

Depending on the cause, male infertility can be treated with various options, such as surgery, medications and assisted reproductive technology (ART). For example, surgery can fix obstructions that are preventing sperm from being present in the ejaculate. It can also correct conditions such as varicocele.

 

Male infertility can be detected.

TRUE.

There are common signs of infertility in men. Swelling of the testicles, changes in sexual desire, small and firm testicles, and problems maintaining an erection or ejaculation are all indicators of male infertility.

 

In Summary

Around 15 to 20 percent of couples trying to conceive will have trouble with infertility. Female factor infertility is typically to blame 40 percent of the time, while male factor infertility is the cause of issues 30 to 40 percent of the time. A combination of these factors leads to infertility 20 to 30 percent of the time. (Reference: https://www.cornellurology.com/clinical-conditions/male-infertility/general-information/fertility-evaluation/)

If you’ve been diagnosed with infertility, you may still be able to conceive.  The best move you can make is to see your doctor to get a better understanding of how to cope and improve your chances.