Fertility can be a really overwhelming subject. There is so much misinformation about fertility that it’s easy for patients to get confused about what they should believe and what they should ignore. So, let’s share some of the most common myths about fertility and help you understand the real truth about this important subject.
MYTH #1: Infertility is a female problem.
FALSE. Infertility isn’t just a “female problem” and in fact, male factor infertility accounts for about one-third of the infertility cases we see. Another one-third of infertility cases are due to female causes and the final third is due to a combination of female and male factors. This is why it’s so important to discuss and test male fertility issues as part of a comprehensive and complete fertility evaluation with a Fertility Specialist.
MYTH #2: Infertility is rare.
FALSE. Infertility is actually much more common than people realize. Infertility affects 1 out of every 8 couples. Approximately 6.7 million women in the U.S. suffer with infertility. One in 4 women will experience a miscarriage during their life. If you are struggling with fertility issues, please know that you are not alone and don’t be afraid to get help.
MYTH #3: Age doesn’t impact fertility as long as you are healthy.
FALSE. Your age is the most important factor when it comes to your fertility. As women get older, the likelihood of successfully conceiving goes down largely because egg quality declines with time. Egg quality and therefore fertility potential begin declining much more quickly after age 35. While maintaining good overall health is important and can improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy, good health does not ensure that you are fertile.
MYTH #4: If you get a period every month, it means you are fertile.
FALSE. Having a regular cycle does not necessarily mean that you are ovulating or releasing an egg during each cycle. A regular cycle also does not correlate with egg quality or ovarian reserve, which is a measure of how many eggs you have left. Ultimately, your age, not the regularity of your menstrual cycle, is the most important predictor of your fertility.
MYTH #5: Birth control pills protect your fertility.
FALSE. The notion that being on birth control pills for years or long periods of time somehow saves all your eggs for when you are ready to conceive is simply not true. Whether you are on birth control pills, a different form of contraception, or not having a period at all, you are still losing eggs every single month. This is why it’s so critical to think about your future fertility and have a plan. If you are not ready to start a family, but know you want to have children consider freezing your eggs. Take action while you are young to improve your chances of success in the future.
MYTH #6: Men don’t have a biological clock.
FALSE. Both women and men experience age-related decline in fertility, but at different rates. Female fertility begins to decrease in a woman’s late 20s and early 30s, whereas male fertility declines at a later age, usually after age 50. Unlike women who are born with all the eggs they will ever have, men are continuously generating sperm. But even though men are able to make sperm later in life, the sperm concentration and quality does decrease with age. It’s helpful to check the health of the sperm with a semen analysis and this is especially important if he is 50 or older. Male factor infertility accounts for about one-third of infertility cases.
MYTH #7: Stress causes infertility.
FALSE. While it is true that stress can impact fertility, the relationship between the two is not that clear cut. Studies have shown that stress reduction techniques can lead to better fertility outcomes, but it’s important to understand that stress does not cause infertility. The advice of “just relax and you’ll get pregnant” doesn’t work. That said, if you are struggling with infertility, good coping mechanisms and taking care of your mental health are important and worth exploring.
MYTH #8: Once you have a baby, it’s easy to get pregnant again.
FALSE. Just because you have had a baby, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have any problems conceiving again. In fact, more than 3 million people in the U.S. struggle to get pregnant after having their first child. There could be various reasons for this including scarring or trauma from a previous pregnancy or delivery, older age, hormonal changes, and all the common causes of primary infertility.
MYTH #9: IVF always works.
FALSE. Even though IVF is a very powerful tool to help patients conceive, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. The likelihood of success with IVF depends on several different factors, the most important of which is the age of the woman. There is a common misconception that women can keep trying on their own until 40 and then turn to IVF at that point if they haven’t been successful.
The truth is that as women get older, successfully conceiving, even with strategies like IVF, becomes much more difficult. This is why we advocate for early referral to a Fertility Specialist who can help assess your fertility status and review your options. The younger you are when you go through IVF, the better your chances are of being successful. Unfortunately for some patients, regardless of which protocol they use or how much medication they are given, IVF won’t always work.
MYTH #10: Fertility treatment is covered by insurance.
NOT ALWAYS TRUE. I wish this were true, but it’s not always the case. Many insurance companies cover a portion of the IVF process, but how much coverage you have and what services are included depends on the policy. At RISE Fertility, our fertility financial specialists will help you navigate the costs of fertility care and review your insurance benefit coverage. We also have an exclusive, custom in-house financing program to help make fertility care more accessible and affordable.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of fertility information available and it can be challenging to know what’s true and what’s not. If you are ever in doubt or have any questions about your fertility, schedule an appointment to speak with a board-certified Fertility Specialist. We are passionate about educating women about their reproductive health and helping them to understand all their options for achieving their fertility goals.
Dr. Ghazal is a double board certified Fertility Specialist, a Southern California native, and an award-winning Top Doctor and Rising Star in the field. She specializes in all aspects of female and male infertility, IVF, egg freezing, LGBTQ+ family building, miscarriage & pregnancy loss, PCOS, ovulatory disorders, intrauterine insemination, fertility preservation for cancer patients, endometriosis, and preimplantation genetic testing. Her research has covered a wide variety of topics in the field of reproductive medicine including assisted reproductive techniques, embryo culture, fertility preservation, endometriosis, implantation, and IVF outcomes. She has authored numerous book chapters and articles that have been published in top journals and she has been invited to present her research at national meetings.