Debunking Common Myths About Infertility

Debunking Common Myths About Infertility

When most people start trying to have a family, they don’t see infertility coming. That’s why it’s a shock to get such a diagnosis in the middle of your efforts to build your dreams. You may feel derailed. You might feel like you’ve done something wrong. You could feel hopeless and helpless.

Myths about fertility and infertility are bound to affect you and your partner. You may get all kinds of advice from well-meaning family members and friends about what to do to increase your fertility, much of which may be built on unfounded myths. 

At Noble Fertility Center in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood in New York City, Peter L. Chang, MD, and our team have seen hundreds of couples and singles overcome an infertility diagnosis and go on to have biological children. If you’ve been labeled as “infertile,” here are a few myths and facts that you should know about. 

Myth: Infertility is rare

Fact: The total fertility rate across the world has dropped by about 1% every single year between 1960 and 2018. That’s a 10% decline per decade and 50% decline over 50 years.

In the United States, up to 15% of all couples are affected by infertility. Socioeconomic factors, such as waiting longer to have children, affect the drop in birth rates, as do endocrine-disrupting chemicals people are exposed to. 

You’re medically considered infertile if the woman is under 35 and you’ve actively been trying to get pregnant for at least one year or, if she’s over 35, if you’ve been trying for at least six months.

Myth: Infertility is always the woman’s problem

Fact: Problems with the woman’s reproductive organs or hormones alone are the reason why they haven’t become pregnant in only about one-third of cases. In another third of cases, both the woman’s problems and the man’s problems contribute to infertility. 

About 8% of the time, it’s the man’s issues alone that cause infertility. Usually, with men, a low sperm count or abnormal sperm is the reason. Just as with women, though, men can have structural abnormalities in their reproductive organs that impede conception.

The rest of the cases are labeled as “unknown infertility.” This means that none of the tests available can identify a specific cause for infertility.

Myth: Your weight and health don’t influence fertility

Fact: Your health and your partner’s health absolutely influence fertility. Poor nutrition that lacks essential vitamins and minerals and is high in saturated fats and sugar, for instance, can affect your chances of conception.

In contrast, eating a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes fresh vegetables, fish, healthy oils, pastured meats, and low-glycemic fruits improves fertility. Studies have shown that a healthy diet improves both ovulation and semen and sperm quality.

Being either overweight or underweight is also associated with infertility. In most cases, your body needs to feel healthy, nourished, and safe before it can nourish a new life. Find out if your body mass index (BMI) is healthy by using this BMI calculator.

If you need to gain weight, we may recommend short-term hormone therapy to regulate your period and help you attain a healthy weight. If you or your partner needs to lose weight, we may refer you to a medical weight loss specialist. 

The healthier you are, the healthier your fertility is. Stop smoking. Cut down on alcohol. Don’t use recreational drugs. All of these unhealthy habits may make it more difficult to get pregnant. 

Myth: Age doesn’t affect fertility if you’re healthy

Fact: Even healthy women see declines in fertility by age 32. At puberty, you have about half a million eggs, but at age 51, you have approximately 1,000. In men, sperm counts and quality also decline with age.

Myth: If you’re infertile, you’ll never have a biological baby

Fact: Assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF), provide a number of options to help you have a biological child. Some choices include:

If you’ve been told that you’re infertile, forget the myths and concentrate on the fact that you may still be able to have the family of your dreams. Contact us for fertility testing, treatment, and ART at 925-230-9471, or use our online booking form to request a consultation.

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