Top Ten Misconceptions about Infertility
infertility is quite a common problem, but is surrounded by clouds of misconceptions and myths. Getting your facts straight is the best place to start.
One of the most amusing books I have read on infertility is: A Few Good Eggs : Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility by Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan.
The book is targetted towards infertile women living in the US, and is written in the currently fashionable "chick-lit" style. It's amusingly written; and is a breath of fresh air , if you are the sort of person who finds a sense of humour helps you cope better with infertility.
The book has lots of Top-10 lists, and here's their list of Top Ten Misconceptions About Infertility.
10 Mis(sed)-Conceptions About Infertility
- Infertility won't happen to me.
- I can't be infertile. I already have a baby!
- I can get pregnant, so I don't have fertility issues. I just have miscarriages
- I'm too young to have fertility issues!
- My doctor told me I didn't need to see a fertility specialist until I had three miscarriages.
- I'm in great shape. I exercise all the time. I can't be infertile.
- I'm not infertile. I'm just not having enough sex.
- You can wait a long time to have a baby.
- Men can't be infertile. They make sperm all the time.
- Normal is a miracle.
Here are my comments about this list.
- Infertility won't happen to me. This is wishful thinking. The sad fact is that infertility is quite a common problem. It affects about 1 in 10 couples, so your chances of being infertile are about 10%. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of being able to check your fertility ( short of actually getting pregnant !). There is no symptom or sign or clue which will tip you off that you may have a problem. This is why so many couples are "pre-infertile" - they worry ( often needlessly) as to whether they may have problems conceiving when they fail to get pregnant the first month they try !
- I can't be infertile. I already have a baby! Sorry. As financial consultants are so fond of reminding us, past performance is no guarantee of future results ! If you had a baby in the past, this simply means that you were fertile then - this is no guarantee that a problem may not have cropped up in the interim which is causing you to become infertile now ! This is called secondary infertility - and is often even more frustrating, because it is no unexpected.
- I can get pregnant, so I don't have fertility issues. I just have miscarriages An extended definition of infertility also includes women who have repeated pregnancy losses ( miscarriages) - women who cannot carry the pregnancy to term. This is because the end result in both cases is the same - the inability to have a baby to love and to hold.
- I'm too young to have fertility issues! Unfortunately, infertility does not respect your age ! While it is true that older women have a much higher chance of being infertile , because they have "older" eggs, young women can also be infertile for many reasons - such as damaged tubes.
- My doctor told me I didn't need to see a fertility specialist until I had three miscarriages. A miscarriage occurs in about 10 % of all pregnancies. Because it is such a common event, and often occurs for random genetic reasons which do not recur, most doctors will not investigate a woman if she has had one miscarriage. Not only is the testing a waste of time and money, it provides little useful information. This is why most doctors will do testing only if you have had 2 miscarriages. However, if you need additional reassurance after having a miscarriage, please ask your doctor as to what he can do to help you.
- I'm in great shape. I exercise all the time. I can't be infertile. There is no relationship between your general health and your fertility. For example, your fallopian tubes could be blocked without causing any symptoms or signs - and you have no way of knowing this, until you get them tested.
- I'm not infertile. I'm just not having enough sex. This is a possibility only if your sexual frequency is less than once a week. If it's more than this, the chances of your having sex during your "fertile time" are quite high - you most probably will "hit the jackpot" at some time over the course of a year. However, increasing your sexual frequency is an easy ( and fun !) way of improving your fertility. Unfortunately, many women use infrequent sex as a pretext to deny the possibility that they maybe infertility.
- You can wait a long time to have a baby. This is not a good idea, for two reasons. Firstly, if you have not conceived on your own in 1 year, the probability of doing so on your own drops considerably; and the chances of your needing medical assistance increase. Secondly, fertility drops as you get older, and there's no point in wasting time and reducing your chances of success. Everything in life comes back, except for time. It's a precious , non-renewable resource - use it sensibly !
- Men can't be infertile. They make sperm all the time. It is true that men produce sperm all the time. However, about 10% of men are infertile, because they produce poor quality sperm. Some have no sperm in their semen at all - and there is no way of checking this without doing a semen analysis in the pathology laboratory.
- Normal is a miracle. Actually, this is true (just slipped it in to make sure you were paying attention!). Given how much precise synchronisation needs to be achieved for an embryo to implant in the uterus to become a baby, every birth is truly an amazing feat - it's remarkable how the human body achieves this with such ease for so many couples !