While infertility is becoming a more openly discussed topic, many misconceptions about it still exist. Among them are ones that can be clarified through a joint effort between healthcare providers, education systems, media coverage, and open discussions. Here we breakdown the most prevalent myths about infertility to provide insight into the realities of infertility.
1. A woman has an endless supply of eggs. Many people believe that a woman’s fertility exists until she reaches menopause. What people don’t know is that a woman enters this world as a newborn with a reserve of around 1 million eggs. These make up the entirety of what she will have for the rest of her life.
By the time a woman reaches puberty, her ovarian reserve typically reduces to 400,000 eggs. With that in mind, research has shown is that the risk of infertility increases with age. Data has indicated that 6 percent of women between ages 20 and 24 are affected by infertility. That percentage skyrockets to 64 percent for women between ages 40 and 44.
2. Timing doesn’t matter. A young, healthy 30-year old woman no apparent fertility complications has only a 20 percent chance of becoming pregnant each month. After a year of trying, only 85 percent of couples who are actively trying to conceive are successful. And if after a year a couple does not become pregnant, their chances of pregnancy falls to 5 percent.
3. Achieving pregnancy can happen at any point in time. In order to become pregnant, a sperm must meet an egg when a woman is ovulating, which occurs once a month (about seven to 10 days before a woman’s period begins). There is only a 24-48 hour time frame during which this successful sperm and egg matching can take place. Couples trying to become pregnant should have sex before and during a woman’s ovulation. Once a woman has ovulated and her egg has moved from the ovary to the fallopian tubes, she cannot become pregnant until her next ovulation period.
4. Infertility is mostly a woman’s problem. Diagnoses of infertility are split evenly between women and men, according to a recent study about misconceptions about conception. It is easy to assume that infertility reflects a woman’s inability to have a child, because she is the carrier. Infertility is a medical condition, not a woman’s condition, or a man’s condition for that matter. Approximately 40 percent of infertility is rooted in female conditions, and 40 percent is rooted in male. And 20 percent result from complications with both partners.
5. BMI and smoking are health concerns, but won’t seriously interfere with fertility. Findings from the British Medical Association indicate that male and female smokers may have a 10-40 percent lower monthly fertility rate than nonsmokers. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) suggests that smoking causes as high as 13 percent of total infertility numbers. Excessive weight can alter hormone levels and consequently affect ovulation and sperm patterns, making pregnancy harder to achieve. Moreover, an estimated 70 percent of all women with infertility diagnoses are also considered obese. We have broken down the ins and outs of BMI and why it is still an important measurement when discussing pregnancy, surrogacy, and the health related risks associated with being pregnant in a recent blog post.
6. Infertility treatments are only for the wealthy. When it comes to family-building options for people struggling with infertility, there are many. These options can be costly. However, they are constantly improving and becoming more pursued. As such, many insurance companies are starting to offer IVF coverage.
One of the most effective ways to take control over your fertility is to be proactive, familiarizing yourself with the facts. Many women and men choose to fight symptoms of infertility with an attitude of defiance or a “keep trying” attitude. While a positive outlook is of the utmost importance, so is a timely and assertive dedication to finding solutions to help yourself, your loved ones, and friends.
To learn more about family-building via egg donation, email [email protected].