When it seems like everyone around you is getting pregnant or having babies, but you are not, it is important to remember that you are not alone and infertility can be a heartbreaking journey for many couples.
Infertility is such a complicated issue and can often feel like a roller coaster of emotions, that lead you to seek answers or to search the internet to find solutions.
There are lots of old wives’ tales about getting pregnant the internet is full of inaccuracies, and even well-meaning friends and other mums can contribute to misinformation. Following on from our recent blog on the most common reasons for infertility, here are 10 common myths about infertility, and what you really need to know:
1. Myth: Just Relax and You Will get Pregnant Straight Away
Often couples trying to get pregnant hear the words ‘just relax and it’ll happen’, but this simply isn’t true. Infertility can be caused by a disease or condition, or under-performance of either the male or female reproductive system, so may be a physical problem not a psychological one. Relaxing may help you with the overall quality of life, but the deep emotions you feel, and the stress, are the results of infertility, not the cause of it.
2. Myth: It is Easy for Most Women to get Pregnant
It is true that many women do conceive without difficulty, but there are certain health conditions and factors, such as age, that can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. To put it into context, a healthy 30-year old woman has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month, but by the time she is 40, this chance drops to about 5% a month. However, it is important to remember that infertility can affect women of any age, and from any background. Remember that one in six couples will need help to conceive.
3. Myth: Fertility is Always Related to Women
Infertility affects both men and women, and it often surprises people to learn that it is a female problem in 35% of all cases of infertility, and male factor also in 35% cases. 20% of the time both partners are part of the issue and in the remaining 10% of cases, the cause is unexplained.
4. Myth: Being on Birth Control for Too Long Leads to Infertility
Some women think that being on the pill for too long will lead to long-term infertility. However, most women ovulate within weeks of coming off birth control. How soon your cycle returns to normal depends on many factors, but 80% of women who want to get pregnant within a year of stopping birth control are able to do so. But if you are age 36 or under, and are trying to get pregnant and don’t conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sex, ask your GP for tests for you and your partner.
5. Myth: Women in their 40s can easily get pregnant
Yes, women in their 40s can conceive and go on to have babies. But a baby girl is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and these lose quality over the years. Egg number and quality decrease significantly when a woman is in her late 30s, although 80% of women aged 35 to 39 get pregnant in the first year of trying – which is only slightly lower than 85% of women younger than 35. However, over the age of 40 egg quality deteriorates, reducing the chance of conception, while the incidence of miscarriage increases, reducing the chance of a livebirth to around 5% in a woman aged 45.
6. Myth: The Best Way to get Pregnant is to Have Sex Every day
You certainly can have sex every day, if you want to. But there is no evidence to suggest it will help you get pregnant faster. It is much more likely to lead to burn out and frustration, especially if (or when) you don’t get pregnant. Daily sex isn’t recommended for any man wanting to conceive because, over time, it reduces the number of good sperm, which may prevent conception. If having sex every day isn’t possible – or enjoyable – have sex every two to three days per week starting soon after the end of your period. This can help ensure you have sex when you are both most fertile.
7. Myth: Irregular Cycles are a sign of Infertility
Irregular cycles are actually quite common. Lots of factors influence the hormonal balance that regulate your menstrual cycle. Sleep disruption, stress or changes to your exercise routine can affect the timing of your period but that doesn’t mean your fertility is affected.
8. Myth: Miscarriages Run in Families
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that miscarriages run in families. Miscarriage is more common than most people realise. Many miscarriages occur before people even know they are pregnant, and for people who do know they’re pregnant, an estimated one in eight pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many couples who experience miscarriage will go on to conceive again and deliver a healthy baby.
However, some women experience multiple and recurrent miscarriages, often after their pregnancies are confirmed. Tests may reveal causes such as blood-clotting disorders, or thyroid problems, or auto-immune conditions, but which may be treatable and so enable the woman to carry a pregnancy to full-term.
9. Myth: Fertility Treatments Lead to Triplets, Quadruplets or More
Here at RHG, like the majority of reproductive specialists, our goal is to help patients achieve a singleton pregnancy – which is healthier and safer for both the woman and the baby. Our treatment philosophy is to increase the chances of achieving a pregnancy while reducing the risk of multiples.
10. Myth: Adopt a Baby, and You Will get Pregnant
This is one of the most senseless myths for a couple to hear. Firstly, it diminishes the effort and commitment to becoming an adopting parent. Secondly, it is simply not true. Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same for those who do not adopt. If the cause of the infertility is a physical condition, adoption will not resolve this.
If you would like to arrange a consultation to discuss your own fertility journey, or arrange a fertility assessment, please get in touch and our patient services team will look after you every step of the way. Our team can help to create tailored, individual fertility plans that will fit your unique situation. You can call us on 01925 202180 or contact us here to get started.