Shedding Light on Infertility Myths
Mar 28, 2011 - 3:10:53 PM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Augusta, Ga. – More than 7 million women in the United States struggle with infertility. Adding to the weight of the issue are the many myths and misunderstandings being spread about infertility — perhaps because it’s an emotional subject that people have a difficult time discussing openly.
In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week: April 24 – 30, 2011, here are six common myths about infertility, and explanations from the specialists at Reproductive Laboratories of Augusta, a member of MCG Health System:
Myth No. 1: It’s easy to get pregnant. False. With each menstrual cycle, a couple has a window of opportunity in which to conceive. The egg survives for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. To get pregnant, a couple must have intercourse either in the period prior to or during ovulation. The bottom line: Couples who are trying to conceive have about a one-in-five chance of getting pregnant each cycle at their peak fertility.
Myth No. 2: Everyone should try to conceive for a year before seeking medical help. False. Infertility is defined as not achieving pregnancy after 12 months of attempting to conceive for most couples. Experts recommend that women over 35 years old see an infertility specialist after six months of unsuccessfully attempting pregnancy. Why? A woman’s fertility decreases significantly with age. It is important to seek help before treatment success is affected by age.
Myth No. 3. Infertility treatment is always complicated and expensive. False. There are many medications which are available to treat infertility which are not expensive and can be taken orally. These medications can be used in patients who ovulate and don’t ovulate regularly with success. Certain lifestyle changes can also help improve fertility, such as changing or adding certain prescription medications in men and women, or diet and exercise in women.
Myth No. 4. Stress can cause infertility. False. Stress is not felt to be a cause of infertility. Of course, stress or extensive work commitments can indirectly affect fertility if these things affect a couple’s personal relationship. Severe stress can interfere with ovulation or depress sperm production. But both situations are rare.
Myth No. 5. There’s nothing you can do to prevent infertility. False. You may not realize it, but sexually transmitted diseases can lead to infertility. Infections caused by Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring and damage to a woman’s reproductive organs that can interfere with fertility. You can reduce this risk by using condoms.
Myth No. 6. Infertility is primarily a woman’s problem. False. Infertility is a couple’s issue. In at least 40 percent of cases, a fertility problem is diagnosed in the male partner. It is important that both partners be evaluated at the initial appointment.
In 30 to 40 percent of cases, there is more than one problem when a couple can’t conceive, or infertility can be from an unknown factor. It is important to make sure there are no genetic conditions or other health problems that may be contributing to problems conceiving.
Don’t believe everything you hear. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant or are concerned about conception, talk to your doctor or seek advice from a reproductive specialist.
MCG Health, Inc. (d/b/a MCGHealth) is a not-for-profit corporation operating MCGHealth Medical Center, MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center, MCGHealth Cancer Center, Georgia Radiation Therapy Center, and related outpatient facilities and services throughout the state. For more information, please visit mcghealth.org.
Dr. Adelina M. Emmi, Reproductive Endocrinologist
Medical Director, Reproductive Laboratories of Augusta, MCG Health System
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