We love that in recent years there has been more awareness surrounding fertility issues. Those dealing with infertility have no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed, although we understand that it is a deeply personal topic. While conversations about this are a good thing, it has led to some misinformation, misconceptions, and myths.
Everyone should have the chance to research and find accurate information, so in this blog post, we will talk about a few common misconceptions and set the record straight. However, as always, the best advice we can offer about this is to talk to your doctor and feel free to ask all of your questions.
Many of these myths were identified through a recent survey of women with infertility conducted by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
“Age won’t affect my fertility.” While you can absolutely have a healthy, successful pregnancy at age 35 and older, age is a critical factor when it comes to fertility. Most women are born with approximately 1 to 2 million eggs. By puberty, the number of remaining eggs has dropped to about half a million, and the ovarian reserve will continue to decline with age. Women’s egg supply declines rapidly in the late 20s and 30s, and declines most notably after the age of 35. In addition to the quantity, the quality of the eggs decreases with age as well.
“Making an appointment with a fertility specialist automatically means IVF.” Making an appointment doesn’t mean you will automatically begin infertility treatment. There will likely be consultations and diagnostic testing first, such as AMH tests, FSH blood tests, Estradiol tests, vaginal ultrasounds, semen analysis, etc. to check ovarian reserve and sperm quality. After undergoing testing to determine the cause (or causes) that are contributing to the inability to conceive, treatment often begins with “low-tech” or basic options, such as timed intercourse with an oral medication like Clomid. If that does not result in a successful pregnancy, the next step is often intrauterine insemination (IUI), an in-office procedure where healthy sperm is directly injected into a woman’s uterus. It takes just minutes, and the patient can return to regular activities the same day.
“It’s the woman’s fault.” Infertility is not always caused by the female. It is typically caused by the woman in one-third of cases and the man in one-third of the cases. The remaining one-third of cases are caused by a mixture of male and female issues or unexplained fertility. This is why it’s so important for men and women to be involved in the evaluation and testing process.
“Wait a year before seeing a doctor.” It’s actually never too early to begin talking to your doctor about your fertility, especially if you and your partner are 35 or older, if you have irregular periods, or conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
“IVF always results in twins and triplets.” It is true that IVF treatment increases the risk of having multiple births, mostly due to the transfer of more than one embryo. However, recent advances in assisted reproductive technology have improved the odds of success with the transfer of only one embryo.
“You waited too long to have kids.” As mentioned, fertility does decrease with age. Although, remember that being young doesn’t guarantee fertility. Couples who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s could get pregnant and deliver healthy babies without intervention, or they may need a bit of assistance to do so.
At Alabama Fertility, we want our patients to have the best experience possible with fertility testing and treatment. We encourage you to ask your doctors and nurses at Alabama Fertility questions about treatment options in order to find out more.