Top 10 Fertility Myths

Posted on August 3, 2008 by Inception Fertility

  1. Although it is always better to be healthy, especially when it comes to carrying a pregnancy, the likelihood of conception is tied to the age of a woman’s eggs and is not closely related to her general health.
  2. You should have sex every other day during the fertile window. For most men, sperm recovery is very rapid. Sometimes when an IVF cycle is done and there are many eggs to fertilize, we ask for a second semen sample. We are often amazed when the second sample, collected just 2 hours after the first sample, has even better numbers. So, rather than attempting to “save up good sperm” by having less frequent intercourse during the most fertile time period, we recommend more frequent intercourse. A home ovulation predictor kit is useful to time sex to ovulation. When using the ovulation predictor kit, we recommend sex on the first day of the LH surge and the next day too. However excessisve amounts of intercourse can cause lower sperm counts temporarily.
  3. Fertility medications are associated with a higher risk of cancer. In the early 1990’s, some concerns were raised that taking fertility medications might be associated with a higher lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Since then, several studies have been published that did not find this to be true. Because of this thorough and extensive research we feel comfortable using these medications not only on patients, but our egg donors as well.
  4. Fertility medications (especially injectable fertility medications) cause women to be emotional wrecks. Although Clomid (clomiphene citrate) has well-known side effects related to its anti-estrogen effects, the injectable fertility medications do not tend to cause the same negative mood alterations. These drugs increase estrogen levels, a hormone which tends to have positive affects on mood.
  5. Using fertility drugs and getting multiple eggs might use up my future eggs and cause me to go into menopause earlier than expected. Humans usually only ovulate one mature egg each month. This egg is contained in the dominant follicle and grows in one ovary or the other. For each dominant follicle that develops in any particular cycle, there are several other follicles/potential eggs available that are also trying to become that dominant follicle. The number of these other “antral” follicles varies from woman to woman and to lesser degree, from cycle to cycle. In general, the number of antral follicles declines with female age. Once the dominant follicle has been selected and the egg ovulated, the menstrual period or a pregnancy begin, and the other antral follicles, undergo programmed cell death, called atresia. The use of fertility medications rescues this group of antral follicles from atresia. For this reason creating multiple mature follicles and obtaining multiple eggs in any one cycle does not use up future eggs. We are simply rescuing eggs that would have otherwise died that month.
  6. Having a miscarriage is a good sign that a woman is fertile. Approximately 70% of miscarriages are due to abnormal chromosomes (DNA) in the embryo. As a woman ages, more and more of her eggs become abnormal In fact, at age 40, only 1 in 10 eggs on average has normal chromosomes; so a woman at that age may only ovulate one normal egg per year. While a miscarriage may indicate that fertilization and implantation can occur, it doesn’t necessarily mean that overall egg quality is good. Egg quality is the best indicator of the ability to produce a viable pregnancy.
  7. Stress is a major cause of infertility. There is enough circumstantial evidence to indict stress as a collaborator when it comes to fertility; however, there is very little evidence to convict stress as a major perpetrator. Usually there is some other underlying cause to the problem, even if it is just age-related sub-fertility (decline in fertility due to female age and therefore higher numbers of abnormal eggs). Stress, however, can compound the problem and possibly negatively impact egg quality and uterine lining quality. Look for a new addition to our website, the Domar Fertility Stress Questionnaire, to assess your stress levels.
  8. In Vitro Fertilization can help women in their late 40’s and even 50’s to conceive with their own eggs. Despite the number of celebrities having babies in their mid-forties and beyond, these babies may not necessarily have been the result of an in vitro fertilization process using their own eggs. While we respect a woman’s right to privacy and their decision not to divulge this little detail, the perception left with the public is that fertility treatments can extend one’s reproductive life. Unfortunately, this simply is not true. There is a very, very low probability of improving one’s success of conceiving after age 43 by using assisted reproduction, unless the woman considers using donor eggs.
  9. In Vitro Fertilization success rates are low. Across the United States, including patients of all ages, the delivered success rates for in vitro fertilization have risen from about 20% in the mid-1990s to about 35% in the mid-2000s. During this same period, fewer embryos were being transferred to the uterus per cycle and the triplet and higher-multiple pregnancy rates dropped dramatically. Though it may take more than one attempt to conceive, the majority of patients are successful.
  10. Very few people ever experience infertility. Many fertility patients feel they are the only ones in their circle of friends and acquaintances suffering from infertility. At times, it seems as though everyone else is having a baby. Actually, one in six couples is having trouble with conception, they just may not talk about it. Since they are not pushing a stroller, there is no outward visible sign of their fertility status. When couples decide to share the story of their fertility quest, they often find there are many of their peers experiencing similar difficulties. They discover friends who can not only relate but also provide valuable support.

If you've enjoyed this top ten list of fertility myths, be sure check out our other posts like, 10 things you may not know about fertility

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