COMMON FEMALE INFERTILITY MYTHS

Myth: Conception occurs only during intercourse.

Fact: Believe it or not, a man’s sperm can survive for three to five days in a woman’s reproductive tract. So, even if you’re not ovulating during those moments of passion, his little swimmers can still fertilize an egg if you start ovulating a couple of days later. In fact, a woman’s optimal window for fertility starts three to five days before ovulation and ends soon after. And when it comes to getting pregnant, timing really is everything.

Myth: Stress has nothing to do with infertility.

Fact: There’s stress and then there’s stress. A little is OK, but a lot can wreak havoc on your entire body, including your fertility. But not to worry: A recent study in the journal Fertility and Sterility found mind-body stress-reduction programs more than doubled pregnancy rates in couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

Myth: Your best chance of getting pregnant is on day 14 of your cycle.

Fact: While it makes sense in theory, not everyone has a 28-day cycle with ovulation occurring smack dab in the middle. To determine when you’re ovulating, don’t leave it up to chance. Instead, buy a home ovulation kit.

Myth: The numbers on the scale have nothing to do with fertility.

Fact: How much people weigh can greatly impact their chances of conceiving. Several studies have linked obesity to low sperm count and poor sperm quality in men. And obesity in women is a risk factor for anovulation (the absence of ovulation). On the other hand, according to a study in the journal Sterility and Fertility, being excessively underweight (a BMI of 17.5 or less) is linked to nearly five times the risk of infertility since women with too little body fat can stop ovulating and/or menstruating altogether.

Myth: Taking birth control pills can ruin your long-term fertility.

Fact: Though the Pill does suppress ovulation while you’re taking it, fears of sustained suppression are unfounded—once a woman stops taking the Pill, it no longer impacts her ability to get pregnant.

Myth: Infertility means you can’t have a child.

Fact: Infertility means that you have been unable to have a child naturally after a year of trying. With the proper treatment, many people go on to have children. In addition, there is a possibility of a couple conceiving without treatment if the woman is ovulating and has one open tube, and the male partner has some sperm in his ejaculate. This rate may be lower than you would hope, but it is not zero.

Myth: Infertility is almost always a woman’s problem.

Fact: When there’s an identifiable cause of infertility, about half the time men contribute to the problem. A male factor is responsible in about 35 percent of infertile couples, and male and female factors together contribute to the problem in another 20 percent.

Myth: Many infertile couples are trying too hard. If they would just relax, they would conceive right away.

Fact: Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. Instead of booking that dream vacation, infertile couples should schedule a doctor’s appointment. One or both partners may have a correctable medical condition that stands in the way of conception.

Myth: Most couples can conceive any time they want.

Fact: More than 20 million Indians of childbearing age have fertility problems. Even under the best circumstances, conception is tricky. It’s not unusual for a perfectly healthy, fertile couple to try for several months or more before achieving a pregnancy. And the longer couples wait to have children, the more difficult it can be: By the time the average woman reaches her early forties, half of her eggs are no longer viable. However, most couples who can afford fertility treatments can eventually conceive, if they are open to the use of egg donation.

Myth: Women don’t start to lose their fertility until their late 30s or early 40s.

Fact: According to a report in the journal Human Reproduction, a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 27, although this isn’t clinically significant. Most women of this age can still get pregnant, of course, but it might take a few more months of trying. But by the time a woman reaches 35, her chances of getting pregnant during any particular attempt are about half of what they were between the ages of 19 and 26.

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