Common fertility myths and misconceptions and the truth about them

 Common fertility myths and misconceptions and the truth about them

Dr Mangla Gowri K

Infertility is a sensitive and challenging issue that affects many couples worldwide. While the journey to parenthood can be filled with both joy and heartache, it is essential to be well-informed and dispel common myths and misconceptions about fertility. In this article, we will address several prevalent fertility myths and provide facts, statistics, and practical information to help couples overcome these misconceptions.

MYTH- Infertility is due to problems with females only
FACT- Infertility can affect both men and women and sometimes, the issue lies with both partners. According to the American Pregnancy Association, female factors account for 40-50 per cent of infertility cases, while male factors constitute 30-40 per cent. In approximately 5-10% per cent of cases, both partners contribute to infertility. It is essential to recognize that infertility is not solely a female concern, and a comprehensive evaluation should be performed for both partners to identify any underlying causes.

MYTH- Age significantly impacts a woman’s ability to conceive
While it is true that fertility gradually decreases with age, women can conceive in their 30s and 40s. Data from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reveals that women between the ages of 35 and 37 have a 25-30 per cent chance of getting pregnant within a year of trying. For women aged 38-40, the likelihood decreases to 15-20 per cent, and those over 40 have a 5 per cent chance. Advanced reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs, can still provide viable options for women in their 40s who wish to have children.

MYTH- IVF is the only solution for all infertility problems
IVF is a widely known fertility treatment, but it is not the only option for addressing infertility. Depending on the specific circumstances, other treatment options may be more appropriate. These include ovulation induction (OI) with medications and intrauterine insemination (IUI). The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the age of the individual, the duration of infertility, and the cause of infertility. Consulting a fertility specialist will help determine the most suitable treatment plan.

MYTH- IVF is prohibitively expensive and requires extended time off work
While IVF can be costly, it is essential to put the expenses in perspective. The cost of IVF has not increased significantly over the years and is often comparable to other major medical procedures, such as heart surgery or joint replacement. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the average cost of a single IVF cycle in the United States is around $12,000. Additionally, advancements in IVF protocols have streamlined the process, minimizing the time off work required. Typically, patients need 10-15 days of rest during the treatment cycle, after which they can resume their normal daily activities.

MYTH- IVF is associated with numerous risk factors
With advancements in assisted reproductive technology, the risk factors associated with IVF have become increasingly minimal. Additionally, the chances of multiple pregnancies can be significantly reduced by limiting the number of embryos transferred, especially in younger women. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that the overall health risks associated with IVF are generally low, and the procedure has a high safety profile.

MYTH- IVF success rates are low
The success of IVF varies depending on several factors, such as the age of the female partner, the cause of infertility, biological and hormonal considerations, and the expertise of the fertility center. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national average live birth success rate for IVF cycles using fresh, non-donor eggs is approximately 24% for women under 35, 18% for women aged 35-37, and 11% for women aged 38-40. While success rates may vary, it is important to note that repeated cycles of IVF may be needed to achieve pregnancy.

MYTH- Conceiving after a family planning operation is impossible
FACT– Many individuals who have undergone a family planning procedure can still conceive using assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF. It is essential to consult with a fertility specialist to discuss the available options, as there may be ways to overcome the previous family planning operation and achieve pregnancy.

MYTH- Newly married couples who don’t want children have no options to preserve fertility
For newlyweds who want to delay starting a family, there are options to preserve fertility. Both men and women can freeze and preserve their eggs, sperm, and even embryos for future use. This allows couples to have their biological children when they are ready for parenthood, even if they choose to wait several years before trying to conceive.

Fertility is a complex topic, and it is crucial to separate fact from fiction to make informed decisions about family planning and infertility treatment. By debunking common fertility myths and providing accurate information and statistics, individuals and couples can better understand their options and take proactive steps to address fertility concerns. Consulting with a fertility specialist is often the first and most crucial step to building a family, as they can provide personalized guidance based on individual circumstances.

Dr Mangla Gowri K is Infertility Specialist and
Center Head at Santaan-Bengaluru


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