While there’s a lot of seemingly conflicting information regarding the myths and realities of the causes of infertility, don’t get discouraged.
Sometimes, all of the information surrounding what causes, and what doesn’t cause, infertility can be dizzying. Trying to sort fact from fiction can easily result in couples feeling no better off than when they started looking. It’s important to not get discouraged, and maybe even more important- to seek professional help early. Self-diagnosis isn’t always the best route, especially when dealing with a heavily nuanced concept like infertility.
Many things play a factor in the ability to conceive. Thus, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint just one thing without the help of a medical professional. Take a deep breath and ease your mind as we work to dispel some of the most common myths about infertility.
Infertility is largely a woman’s issue: Myth.
In fact, men are just as statistically likely to be the cause of relationship infertility as a woman is. Men account for 40-50% of infertility problems. Despite this, women’s fertility issues seem to be the ones that enter the spotlight more often. This is why if you think you may be experiencing fertility issues, it’s important that both partners go in to speak with a specialist.
You and your partner should remember that no matter the actual diagnosis, you’re in this together. Support systems are wildly important when contending with fertility problems. Hence, it’s always necessary to be able to confide in one another.
Diet doesn’t affect fertility: Both.
There are, in fact, foods that may help boost fertility. However, based on nutrition, none have been found to actually negatively affect fertility. That being said, nutrition and body weight are both very important factors, fertility wise. Being unhealthy, whether overweight or underweight, can negatively affect your chances of being able to conceive. Certain eating disorders can also affect hormonal systems and reduce the effectiveness of ovulation.
You’re just too old: Both.
While this has merits of truth, there is no hard and fast age in which conception becomes impossible. For women, following menopause, natural conception is largely off the table. However, before that eggs egg is a generally progressive fashion. In the first year that a woman begins her menses, there is a 20% chance that she will produce fertile eggs. This number increases to around 90% while she peaks in her 20s. Then, it progressively declines as the woman ages. How much this percentage declines depends largely on each individual. This question is generally under heated debate within the scientific community.
What most people don’t realize is that men’s fertility is also affected by age. As men age, their sperm also age and this can affect motility, quality, and even quantity and become one of the causes of infertility.
You’re just too young: Myth.
As long as either a man or woman has entered puberty and is experiencing menstruation or sperm production, they have the ability to produce a child. The likelihood of becoming pregnant does change over time, but it is still possible to have a child if you are producing sex cells.
Doctors always know the cause: Myth.
In 10% of all cases globally, doctors are unable to pinpoint an exact cause of infertility. However, just because your doctor is unable to give you a specific cause does not mean that you are unable to respond positively to different treatments. In certain types of idiopathic infertility, things like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have proven successful. Should treatments yield no positive results, surrogacy can be an option for some couples.
You can’t be infertile if you already have a child: Myth.
Infertility that follows a previously successful pregnancy is called “secondary infertility”. While this isn’t an entirely uncommon experience, more than 1 million couples struggle with it. Secondary infertility can be attributed to age but is also influenced by dramatic lifestyle changes, or changes in the baseline health of either partner. Sometimes, secondary infertility just happens. It is slightly more likely to come up with an idiopathic diagnosis than primary infertility.
Men are just as likely to be infertile: True.
Men contribute to about half of the infertility issues that are experienced by couples worldwide. A complete lack of sperm makes up about 10-15% of all male infertility diagnosis. However, a number of other factors can be causes of infertility for men, including lifestyle choices, blockages, illness, injury, chronic health problems, and a number of other factors.
If you’ve been diagnosed with primary infertility, you’ll never have a child of your own: Myth.
Treatment will depend heavily on the diagnosable issue that is causing infertility. However, an initial diagnosis of primary infertility does not mean that you are unable to conceive. Novel treatments like IUI, IVF, hormone therapy, and medical or surgical intervention for pre-existing conditions are all ways that may help you to conceive a child of your own. Should these methods fail, it may be time for you and your partner to consider surrogacy as an option.
Birth control can cause infertility: Myth.
While birth control has shown no link to actual infertility, many women may experience a delay in fertility. After stopping hormonal birth control methods, it can take some women a few weeks to a few months to regain a normal ovulation cycle. In other women, they may not have had a normal cycle, to begin with. Because hormonal birth control methods systematically release hormones, they may serve to mask irregularities in the cycles that women naturally have. This means that once a woman stops using birth control, her cycles may become more irregular. Thus, ovulation can be harder to pinpoint.