6 Myths Dispelled

The truth about getting pregnant is all too often mired in myths passed down as old wives' tales and common misconceptions. To distinguish fact from fiction, Mark Bush, M.D., offers the following list of common infertility myths.

woman facing infertility

Myth #1

Infertility is a woman's problem.

Approximately 40 percent of the time, a male factor is involved in a couple's inability to conceive.

Myth #2

Everyone else seems to get pregnant at a drop of a hat.

More than 5 million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. The good news is that a variety of therapies are available to treat the medical obstacles to having children. A thorough medical evaluation is recommended to determine the underlying cause; however, many patients are successful with minimally invasive treatment options.

Myth #3

As long as I am having regular periods, I should be fertile.

Even if a woman regularly ovulates, has regular periods and feels fine from adequate estrogen and progesterone secretion from the ovary, the eggs that the ovaries produce as a woman ages have a decreased ability to establish a pregnancy. Because this decline in egg potential can vary from woman to woman, it is important to seek a consultation with a specialist for basal FSH and estradiol levels and provocative testing after the age of 30. This consultation will give women the information they need regarding their reproductive potential and allow them to make informed decisions regarding their courses of action.

Myth #4

Women over 40 should be able to conceive easily as long as they are healthy.

Approximately two-thirds of women will not be able to get pregnant spontaneously by the age of 40, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Nationally, the percentage of IVF cycles in 2001 resulting in live births for women aged 41 to 42 was 10.4 percent, whereas patients going through IVF under the age of 35 have much higher success rates, often as high as 50 percent. This underscores the need for women to seek competent fertility care promptly.

Myth #5

Fertility drugs usually result in multiple pregnancies.

Recent advances have led to increased pregnancy rates while minimizing the risk for higher-order multiples. Patients undergoing intrauterine insemination with gonadotropin stimulation are closely monitored. For patients going through in vitro fertilization, improved technology has increased pregnancy rates, leading to fewer embryos needing to be transferred to maximize the chance of pregnancy. Nationally, the percentage of pregnancies with triplets or more after IVF in 2001 ranged from 2.9 percent to 8.1 percent depending on a woman's age.

Myth #6

I was able to conceive once, so I'll have no problem conceiving again.

Past fertility does not ensure future fertility. More than half of all women who experience infertility already have one biological child, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These women suffer from secondary infertility, or an inability to conceive after a year when one or both partners have previously conceived. Although more than 3 million Americans are affected by secondary infertility, and the prevalence rate is higher than that of primary infertility, few couples seek treatment. The causes of secondary infertility vary, but age is a primary factor.

More about infertility

When to see a specialist
The male factor: The low-down on fertility sperm testing
10 Fertility boosting tricks to get pregnant

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