Penn Fertility Care

Patient Resources

Reproductive Health Information

Common Fertility Myths

When researching or discussing fertility causes, diagnosis and treatments, you may come across numerous old wives tales, home remedies or myths. Remember that infertility is a medical condition and if you are having difficulty in becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor about your concerns.

The following information will hopefully dispel some of the many myths you may have already heard.

Myth:

Fertility problems stem only in women.

Fact:

Factors in the male partner account for approximately 40 percent of infertility cases.

 

Infertility affects both women and men. And because 40 percent of infertility cases are due to problems in the male partner, it is important that he be tested early during infertility evaluation.

Myth:

Healthy women over 40 can conceive easily.

Fact:

A woman's chance of conceiving in one month without medical assistance after age 40 is under 10 percent.

 

Overall, pregnancy rates are decreased and miscarriage rates are markedly increased in women over the age of 40. That does not say that achieving a successful pregnancy is not possible but it is more difficult and requires an aggressive approach. Today more women are delaying childbirth to establish their careers. However, it is important for a woman to be aware of a general fertility timeline and plan their future accordingly.

Chances of Conception

In one month

In six months

In one year

Early 20's

25%

75%

94%

Late 20's/ Early 30's

15%

38-47%

70-85%

Late 30's

10%

22-24%

65-70%

Myth:

Stress causes infertility

Fact:

While it is possible, although rare, for stress to cause infertility, it is far more common for infertility to cause stress.

 

There has been quite a debate regarding stress and infertility. Does stress cause infertility? Or does infertility cause stress? The fact is, that while it is possible, although rare, for stress to cause infertility, it is far more common for infertility to cause stress.

The role stress plays in a person's fertility is complicated. Evidence indicating stress as a cause of infertility is minimal. There are rare occasions when extreme stress can interfere with normal ovulation in women and may reduce sperm production in men. Stress can also affect a relationship by keeping a couple from the intimacy of intercourse.

To reduce stress in your life and to potentially make the conception process more enjoyable, there are some techniques that can help to relieve your anxiety:

  • Keep the lines of communication open with your partner.
  • Look for emotional support. Counseling, support groups and books can help by reassuring you that you're not alone.
  • Learn yoga or meditation techniques.
  • Avoid excessive intake of caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Exercise regularly to relieve physical and emotional tension.

Contact your physician if you find your stress becomes unmanageable or causes feelings of extreme anger or depression.

Myth:

Couples may reason, "If we work hard enough at trying to get pregnant, we will eventually get pregnant."

Fact:

Infertility is a medical condition.

 

There are a number of infertility causes ranging from anatomical to ovulatory disorders that can only be treated by a physician.
Some of the leading causes of infertility in women are:

  • Fallopian tube damage
  • Endometriosis
  • Hormonal problems
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Age

Myth:

Once you have had a child, it is easy to conceive again.

Fact:

Fertility problems can emerge at any age, any time, even if you have conceived in the past.

 

Primary infertility is the term used to describe a couple that has never been able to conceive a pregnancy, after a minimum of 1 year of attempting to do so through unprotected intercourse.

The term "secondary infertility" is used to describe couples who have previously achieved a pregnancy, but who have not been able to achieve a consecutive pregnancy. The range of reasons for secondary infertility is nearly as extensive as primary infertility.

Many couples that had no problems conceiving their first child find themselves facing separate yet similar emotional issues, and go through the same tests as couples that have never conceived.