Myths and Facts About Infertility

Just relax. Infertility is a psychological problem that’s all in your head.
Psychological problems ARE NOT a major cause of infertility. Maybe your friends or family members have told you to stop trying so hard and simply “relax.” Although stress has been shown to contribute to infertility in some cases, it’s more likely that infertility is causing anxiety, depression, and sexual problems than the other way around.

Infertility is primarily a female problem
Infertility is no longer regarded as “her” problem. In fact, approximately 40 percent of cases of infertility are due to problems that occur in the man. Another 40 percent are due to problems that occur in the woman. In approximately 20 percent of all infertile couples, both partners have physical problems contributing to their infertility. Modern infertility treatment focuses on the couple as a unit, recognizing they are a team who will work together to resolve this problem.

Adoption increases the chances of becoming pregnant
Almost every couple that has had difficulty becoming pregnant probably has heard the story about someone who became pregnant shortly after adopting. This myth is an offshoot of the “just relax” myth, assuming that adoption relieves the anxiety and stress that presumably were causing the infertility. In fact, infertile couples who adopt are no more likely to become pregnant than couples who do not: Though adoption is a wonderful way to build your family, no one should adopt because they think they will get pregnant naturally because of it.

It’s not complicated. Getting pregnant is simple and easy.
For any given month, the pregnancy rate for couples without infertility issues is around 20% per month. For subfertile and infertile couples the rate drops even lower. It may seem even more complicated for the couple who is having difficulty conceiving because it becomes compounded by feelings of anxiety and frustration. But infertility treatments, from the simple to the most advanced, provide hope by dramatically increasing pregnancy rates, pushing them well beyond the normal rate per month.

5. ‘I don’t have to worry about my eggs until I’m 40.’
At birth, a woman has 7 million eggs, which slims down to 400,000 at the onset of puberty. During a woman’s lifetime, approximately 400 to 500 eggs will be released. As a woman ages, the ovarian reserve declines. A woman’s egg supply takes a rapid decline in the late 20s, again in the 30s and then most notably after age 35.

6. ‘I do yoga and exercise. I’m in great shape. Age won’t affect my fertility.’
A healthy body and mind can boost fertility, but it cannot reverse the age of ovaries and semen. For both men and women, age is a critical component of fertility potential.

7. ‘I know we could stand to lose weight, but …’
When men or women carry extra weight, hormonal shifts occur in the body that can affect ovulation and semen production. The great news is that couples can team up to lose weight, become active together and boost their fertility.
Although it is estimated that 70% of women with infertility are also obese, losing as little as 5% to 10% of body weight can boost fertility in men and women.

8. ‘Only women need to take supplements before a pregnancy.’
It has long been known that women should take folic acid to prevent certain birth defects, but folic acid is now known to be an important supplement in male fertility.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that men had a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm when their diet was low in folic acid. Coenzyme Q10 has also been found to increase sperm count and sperm motility, and vitamin E also improves low sperm count.

9. ‘STDs affect my health, but they don’t affect trying to have a baby.’
For both men and women, sexually transmitted diseases can affect the ability to have children. STDs can cause scarring and blockage of the male reproductive structures. If STDs go untreated in women, they can lead to an episode of pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a leading cause of infertility.

10. ‘It doesn’t matter how much coffee I drink.’
Believe it or not, that venti at Starbucks might be working against you. One study found that “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.”
Caffeine can decrease fertility, so be sure to limit intake. It’s better to opt for decaffeinated or half-caffeinated coffee, and remember there is caffeine in tea, colas and chocolate.