October 2, 2014
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Fertility


Fertility facts vs. myths

It's time to debunk some fertility myths.

Let's face it, myths abound when it comes to fertility and conception. Some myths may be harmless, but others may actually work against you as you try to conceive. It helps to be knowledgeable. So let's shed some light on a few common misconceptions.

Myth: It's easy to get pregnant.
Truth: In fact, getting pregnant is not easy. The chance of a fertile couple being able to conceive is only 25% per cycle on average and the chances decrease with age. Yet friends and family often still put undue pressure on couples with the "What's wrong with you?" syndrome. There are many factors that can affect one's ability to get pregnant. These include the correct timing of intercourse, the female partner's age, and a range of other variables. Some of these factors are outlined in the fertility basics section.

Myth: Having sex every day will increase our chances of conceiving.
Truth: Timing sex during the most fertile days of a woman's monthly cycle will increase your chances - not how many times you have sex. Generally, the best time for trying to conceive is during the 11th to 17th days of a woman's menstrual cycle, based on a 28-day cycle. Since a man's sperm can live for 48 to 72 hours in a woman's reproductive tract, intercourse every other day during this period is recommended. A study found no difference in pregnancy rates between couples who had sex daily and those who had sex every other day.

Myth: A woman's menstrual cycle begins when she starts spotting.
Truth: Close, but wrong. If you're trying to time intercourse, it's critical to identify the first day of your reproductive cycle. Start counting on the first day of normal bleeding or full flow, not when spotting begins. Being off by just a day or two can make a big difference.

Myth: A woman can't get pregnant if she doesn't have an orgasm.
Truth: Getting pregnant has nothing to do with a woman having an orgasm. Conception occurs when a man's sperm fertilizes a woman's egg. In most cases it is necessary for the male to have an orgasm to release the sperm, although some semen can be released during intercourse prior to ejaculation. The sperm travels to fertilize the egg that has been released during ovulation in the woman, a process not affected by orgasm.

Myth: I can wait until I'm 40 to conceive. Everyone's doing it.
Truth: When you choose to start a family is up to you. But as you make your decision, you should be aware of some basic fertility facts. A woman's fertility starts to decrease in her late 20s and by age 35 it is reduced by nearly half. While a man's fertility also declines with age, the decline is less significant than a woman's. Find out how age can affect fertility.

Getting pregnant - at any age - is not an automatic. And as you get older, it may become increasingly more difficult to conceive - despite all the stories you've heard in the media. It's important to talk to a health care provider whenever you're concerned about your ability to conceive. You may also seek help from a fertility specialist, also called a reproductive endocrinologist (REI).

Myth: We've already had one child, so conceiving again will be easy.
Truth: Perhaps, but it's no guarantee. Many individuals experience secondary infertility, or difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent child. This problem can be caused by age-related factors. If you are having problems conceiving, talk to your doctor or a fertility specialist.

Myth: Women going through fertility treatments end up with twins or triplets.
Truth: The majority of women who succeed with fertility treatments will have a single child. The risk of multiple pregnancies with infertility treatments is higher than usual, but can be minimized. Currently on average 22.6% of pregnancies resulting from IVF and ICSI are twins and 1.5% are higher order multiples (triplets, quadruples). This is primarily due to the practice of transferring several embryos into the uterus to increase chances for success. Discuss with a fertility specialist ways to minimize the risk of multiple pregnancies.

Myth: Fertility treatments go against nature.
Truth: Being able to conceive a child is the most natural thing for humans. Fertility treatments attempt to remove or reduce barriers causing your conception difficulties hoping that nature will do the rest.

Myth: Couples often get pregnant once they adopt a child.
Truth: There is no proof that pregnancy and adoption are linked any way. Some stories travel better then others and you probably don't hear about those couples who adopt and don't get pregnant.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

If you're wondering if something else is fact or fiction, visit the "Ask an Expert" section in this channel or talk to a fertility specialist.

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