There are lots of myths about getting pregnant and infertility. Chances are you've heard a lot of them from relatives and friends who were just trying to make you feel better. But when you're trying to conceive, it is important to separate fact from myths. In fact, it's crucial to do so because believing some of those myths could prevent you from getting the care and treatment you need.
MYTH: Infertility is primarily a female problem.
FACT: Infertility is no longer regarded as ‘her’ problem. In fact, approximately 40% of cases of infertility are due to problems that occur in men. Another 40% are due to problems that occur in the woman. In approximately 20% of all infertile couples, both partners have physical problems contributing to their infertility. Modern infertility treatment focuses on the couple as a unit, recognising they are a team who will work together to resolve this problem.
MYTH: There is no hurry to get pregnant! Look at all the women in the news having babies well into their 40's and even 50's!
FACT: The vast majority of women, who become pregnant after crossing the age of 43, have used another women's egg or even adopted an embryo to achieve conception. In addition, there are significant health risks to both the mother and the baby when the mother is in an advanced reproductive age. These facts should not deter a woman from seeking consultation from her gynaecologist or a reproductive specialist about her unique situation and potential for success. Fertility begins to decline in a woman starting at age 27. At 35, that decline speeds up, and after 40, it declines even more steeply. A healthy lifestyle cannot stop the natural process of aging.
MYTH: Just relax. Infertility is a psychological problem that's all in your head.
FACT: Psychological problems ARE NOT a major cause of infertility. Maybe your friends or family members have told you to stop trying so hard and simply “relax.” Although stress has been shown to contribute to infertility in some cases, it’s more likely that infertility is causing anxiety, depression and sexual problems than the other way around.
MYTH: Adoption increases the chances of becoming pregnant.
FACT: Almost every couple that has had difficulty becoming pregnant probably has heard the story about someone who became pregnant shortly after adopting. This myth is an offshoot of the “just relax” myth, assuming that adoption relieves the anxiety and stress that presumably were causing the infertility. In fact, infertile couples who adopt are no more likely to become pregnant than couples who do not. Though adoption is a wonderful way to build your family, no one should adopt because they think they will get pregnant naturally because of it.
MYTH: Services for infertility (like IVF) are too high tech and too expensive for most couples to consider.
FACT: The truth is that IVF is expensive but many couples find if that is what their situation dictates, there are acceptable ways to manage the costs. The other truth is, although IVF is usually every couple's best chance for pregnancy, most couples do not need it. The majority of infertile couples who achieve pregnancy do so without employing the most expensive, most ‘high tech’ interventions.
MYTH: While infertility may be a difficult experience, at least it can always be resolved by treatment.
FACT: Unfortunately, not every fertility patient will get a baby who is biologically connected to them in the end. The statistics are in your favour with two-thirds of fertility patients eventually having a baby after treatment.
MYTH: If you're young, you don't need to worry about infertility.
FACT: Age is only one factor of many when it comes to infertility. It's true that as you age, your chances of facing infertility increase. But even a couple in their early 20s has a 7% chance of dealing with infertility. Dealing with infertility is challenging and exhausting and brings with it a great number of new, sometimes anxiety-producing experiences. Finding the right physicians, nurses and counsellors to guide you through this unfamiliar territory is very important. Talking with your primary care or gynaecology provider will help put you on the path of discovering the truths and strategies you may use in your very own quest for a child.