Fertility myths: separating fact from fiction
Myth: Fertility issues are more likely to affect women than men.
Truth: Conception difficulties occur equally in men and women. Male and female factors each account for about a third of complications. The remaining third are either a combination of both or are unexplained.
Myth: There’s time to keep trying until the age of 40.
Truth: Age affects the success rates of infertility treatments as well as your natural ability to get pregnant. Fertility declines steeply after the age 35. By the age of 40 a healthy women has about 5% chance of getting pregnant in a given month.1 If your initial treatment is not successful, do not wait to consult a fertility specialist in a specialized fertility clinic.
Myth: Women going through fertility treatments end with twins or triplets.
Truth: The majority of women who succeed with fertility treatments will have a single child. The risk of multiple pregnancies with infertility treatments is higher than usual, but can be minimized. Currently on average 21% of pregnancies resulting from IVF and ICSI are twins and 1% are triplets.4 This is primarily due to the practice of transferring several embryos into the uterus to increase chances for success. Discuss with your doctor ways to minimize the risk of multiple pregnancies.
Myth: Our first baby was easily conceived, so we’re not expecting any problems with the second.
Truth: There is cause for optimism. But things may also have changed since then. Some couples are diagnosed with secondary infertility, which can occur despite a successful pregnancy.
Myth: Couples often get pregnant once they adopt a child.
Truth: There is no proof that pregnancy and adoption are linked any way. Some stories travel better then others and you probably don’t hear about those couples who adopt and don’t get pregnant.
Myth: The more often we have sex the higher our chances of getting pregnant.
Truth: Frequent intercourse (every 1 to 2 days) yields the highest pregnancy rates, but results achieved with less frequent intercourse (two to three times per week) are nearly equivalent.3 The best time to conceive is during the “fertile window” – that is, during the 6-day interval ending on the day of ovulation.3 Use the ovulation calculator to help determine your fertility peak.
1. Age and Fertility. A Guide for Patients. ASRM 2003; http://www.asrm.org/Patients/patientbooklets/agefertility.pdf 2. Definitions of fertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. Fertil Steril 2008;90:S60. 3. Optimizing Natural Fertility. Fertil Steril 2008;90:S1-6. 4. ESHRE. The European IVF monitoring programme (EIM), for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). Assisted reproductive technology in Europe, 2005. Results generated from European Registers by ESHRE. Hum Reprod 2009;24:1267-1287.