Separate Fact from Fiction about Infertility

Facts and Myths about Infertility - Large

If you’re experiencing infertility, you’re not alone. Generally defined, infertility means that you are unable to get pregnant, or conceive, after one year of unprotected sex. Many couples struggle with infertility. In fact, about 12 percent of women ages 15 to 40 have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Despite, or perhaps because of, the prevalence of infertility, myths abound. Getting the facts can help you take your next best step.

Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction: Infertility is just a woman’s problem.

Infertility is not just a woman’s issue, says Jeremy Groll, MD, of SpringCreek Fertility. He explains that men may also have conditions that contribute to infertility. It’s important that both partners be evaluated during an infertility work-up.

Fact: You MAY get pregnant if you just give it time.

Infertility is a medical problem that can often be treated. At least 50 percent of couples who complete an infertility evaluation will have a successful pregnancy after treatment, according to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

Fact: I should try to get pregnant for six months before calling my doctor.

If you’re younger than 35, most experts say to seek help if you have been attempting pregnancy for one year or more.  According to Dr. Groll, if you have certain risk factors for infertility, you should seek evaluation sooner. “If you’re 35 or older, then you should see your health care provider after six months of trying for pregnancy. Additionally, some health problems increase the risk of infertility, such as irregular or no menstrual periods, very painful periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a history of more than one miscarriage. A couple should seek help sooner if they have any symptoms or risks factors for infertility.”

What can I do to prevent fertility issues? 

Some conditions affect your fertility that you can’t change, like your age or underlying medical conditions. However, Dr. Groll says there are many healthy lifestyle habits you can practice to help improve your fertility.

Here’s a quick checklist of tips to decrease the likelihood that you or your partner will have fertility issues:

  • Follow healthy eating habits
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid alcohol in excess
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid steroid and illicit drug use
  • Be aware that fertility declines with age
If you’re experiencing infertility, treatment options may vary, depending on your age, how long you’ve been experiencing the problem and what the causes are.

Treatment Options

If you’re experiencing infertility, treatment options may vary, depending on your age, how long you’ve been experiencing the problem and what the causes are:

    • Treating underlying medical conditions. Sometimes underlying medical conditions like high prolactin levels or abnormal thyroid function can throw off ovulation and affect fertility. Once the underlying condition is treated, then the couple may get pregnant.
    • Ovulation medications. Several medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce an egg and support the process of ovulation.
    • Intrauterine insemination. Intrauterine insemination places sperm in the uterus near the time of ovulation. It brings a much higher amount of sperm closer to the egg to increase the chance of fertilization occurring.
    • Surgical approaches. Laparoscopy may be used to treat conditions associated with infertility like endometriosis, blocked or swollen fallopian tubes.
    • IVF. In-vitro fertilization is used to create an embryo (egg fertilized by sperm) outside of the body. The embryo is then transferred into a woman’s uterus for a pregnancy to occur.
Jeremy Groll, MD

Jeremy Groll, MD

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