Infertility Myths That Need to Go Away Right Now

Apr 27, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Until recently, infertility was pretty hush-hush — not something you discussed with people other than your doctors. But now that so many people are coming out of the infertility closet and it’s a frequent topic of discussion (which is a very good thing!), it also means that some incorrect information is out there circulating.

As National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close, here’s an inside look into four common infertility myths and what you really need to know about the condition.

Myth: “Trying” to conceive means perfectly timing intercourse with ovulation

When it comes to infertility, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that includes perfect timing.

“Many women use basal body temperature charting, ovulation predictor kits or phone apps to schedule intercourse,” Dr. Thomas Molinaro, a reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey told SheKnows. “However, sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for several days.” 

Turns out, your best chance of getting pregnant means having sex two days before ovulation. This is because the egg survives for less than a day, so waiting to have sex can be a big mistake, as fertility rates drop significantly even one day after ovulation.

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“Given that the timing doesn’t have to be perfect, many couples having unprotected intercourse are trying to conceive for longer than they realize!” Molinaro explained.

Myth: Patients with recurrent miscarriage don’t have infertility

There is a different between being able to conceive and actually giving birth to a baby.

“Even though they are getting pregnant, the fact that they are not achieving a live birth makes recurrent miscarriage a form of infertility that can be devastating and isolating,” Molinaro said. “These patients can suffer from many causes of infertility, such as uterine defects, older age and diminished egg quality. Seeing a fertility specialist can provide insight into some of these areas.” 

Myth: Infertility treatment means having twins or triplets

Good news: Infertility treatments are evolving all the time, and that means that getting pregnant with more than one baby isn’t a foregone conclusion.

Of course, some people may absolutely want to get pregnant with twins or triplets — and that’s still an option. But others may have been put off by tales of infertility treatments that led to being pregnant with multiples, including complications for the mother and babies and possible premature delivery.

“There are higher rates of multiple pregnancy with infertility treatments that utilize hormones to cause a woman to ovulate multiple eggs,” Molinaro explained. “However, modern infertility practices stress low dosages of these medications or use in vitro fertilization with single embryo transfer to minimize these risks.”

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Advanced IVF practices, like RMANJ, where Molinaro practices, use comprehensive chromosomal screening techniques to identify healthy embryos prior to transfer. Replacing one genetically screened embryo at a time can lead to high success rates without the complications of twins or triplets, he noted.

Myth: Infertility is a female problem

Women may be the ones who get pregnant, carry and delivery the baby, but it doesn’t mean they’re solely responsible for any fertility issues.

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“Many men do not think that infertility is their problem,” Molinaro said. “However, male factor is responsible for approximately 20 percent of infertility and may contribute to 30 to 40 percent of infertility cases where there are also female factors.”

Because this is so common, Molinaro recommends that men have a semen analysis early in the infertility treatment process.

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