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Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For

Updated on October 19, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, blogger at Healthy at Home, and educator. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For
Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For | Source

Way too many gynecologists and other doctors are too quick to call a couple infertile. When you initially go in to talk about starting a family, many simply tell you to go home and have fun, that it will generally happen on its own. They usually don’t give you much advice on when, or how, or how many times, or even how long. They don’t inform you on identifying your fertile period, timing intercourse with your ovulation, or even what any of that means.

It’s as if they expect you to already know.

Then when you haven't gotten pregnant after year or so, and go in concerned that something is wrong, they tell you that you must be infertile. "But don’t worry," they’ll say, "Many couples have infertility problems." If you're lucky enough to have a good doctor, she will give you some good advice when you first come in. She will also tell you how to determine when you're ovulating and how to adjust your intercourse for just the right times.

When and if you begin struggling, he’ll likely ask you some good questions, he may run some reasonable tests, and ultimately he will determine if there's really is a problem without totally embarrassing you. But not many of us are that lucky, and instead are left to trust the doctors that we are given in this area.

We have to deal with the bad news, subject ourselves to embarrassing and invasive tests, and spend more money than we have trying to achieve a pregnancy medically. If only everyone knew how easy it was to figure it out on your own. Only 10% of couples living in the United States are actually “infertile,” meaning that they cannot have children due to problems with one or both members of the relationship. (Mayo Clinic) Only a very small number of couples are medically incapable of having children.

More than likely there's nothing wrong with you and there's no real reason for all the doctor’s visits and for spending all of your money on fertility treatments. My husband and I went through this and I was hoping to spare others this same horrible experience. Here are some of the biggest myths involving infertility.

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If You Haven’t Conceived Naturally Within a Year, You’re Infertile

This is the biggest myth of all . . . that if you have simply been having unprotected intercourse with your significant other for at least a year without any success getting pregnant, you are infertile.

As we’ve already discussed that most couples get absolutely no guidance jumping into the TTC (trying to conceive) population, it is very likely that their misguided attempts to get pregnant aren’t coming anywhere close to what they need to be doing to be successful.

To tell you the truth, you could be rabbits at home, but if you’re not getting busy on the two or three days when it’s possible to make babies, you’re completely missing the mark. So how do you know when those days are? Is there a way to predict when it’s going to happen?

Absolutely, but you have to be taught how to track those things, and keep a regular chart, complete with your basal body temperature and cervical fluid to truly know when you’re ovulating, and therefore the most fertile. After a few months of tracking your body’s natural fertility signs using the FAM method, you’ll be on your way to having a little one in your arms without the need for a doctor or any testing.

Start by checking out the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and then keep reading for more great information.

Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For
Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For | Source

Ovulation Occurs on Day 14 of Every Woman's Cycle

Most doctors, and the books that they publish, still stick with the old premise that ALL women are exactly the same. They all ovulate on Day 14 and have 28 day cycles. Do you really believe that each and every woman in the entire world has exactly the same cycles and ovulates on exactly the same day every month? Me neither. If you are lucky enough to get any advice from your doctor though, this might be what you hear.

However, many couples who desire to get pregnant actually impede pregnancy by timing intercourse for Day 14, when, in reality, the woman may ovulate either much earlier or later than that one particular day. I usually ovulate the very first week after my period. We've been pregnant a number of times now. We've nearly got this down to an art.

Many diagnostic tests and therapies are performed at an inappropriate time in the woman’s cycle as well. These include infertility procedures such as post-coital tests and endometrial biopsies, as well as general health procedures such as mammograms and diaphragm fittings. (TCOYF) And all of this is simply because most medical professional are stuck on the old knowledge that all women are the same, which ultimately negates any good that any test could possibly do, because the woman being tested is not ovulating.

This is one of the first beliefs that needs to be changed for couples to find more success in this area.

Source

Stress Causes Infertility

This is absolutely not true. At the very most, severe stress may delay your ovulation until later in the month, and at the very worst, it may suppress the hormones necessary to ovulate for a single month. For instance, you may find that you don't have a period during a big move, right after the death of a loved one, or right in the middle of finals exams at school.

If a couple adheres to the myth of ovulation always occurring on Day 14, they then may inadvertently prevent pregnancy by timing intercourse at the wrong time. This would then trigger a vicious circle of perceived infertility each month, just causing that much more stress. Charting the woman's cycle would allow the couple to regain control by correctly identifying the woman’s fertile phase. (TCOYF)

So if you are taking the time to chart your fertility characteristics every day, you’ll always know exactly when your most fertile days are, even if they are delayed by a week or so. If, for some reason, you miss ovulation altogether one month, you’ll know it ahead of time, and you’ll likely know exactly why. Check out Taking Charge of Your Fertility to find out how to do this very easily each month.

There’s certainly no reason that stress should prevent you from tracking your cycles, having intercourse on the right days, and still getting pregnant.

Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For
Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For | Source

Infertility is a Female Problem

Infertility is not just a problem that females have, but it is equally shared amongst both males and females in the population. In reality, about 40% of infertility can be attributed to females, 40% to male, and 20% to both individuals in the relationship. There are many problems that may arise on either side to prevent pregnancy in a couple, or at least make it more difficult to conceive.

It seems that because the fertility problems that come up in females tend to be more severe, and take greater measures to fix, most of the blame also tends to fall on them. For men, typical issues most commonly arise due to low sperm count or sperm agglutination, or the clumping of sperm. Treatment for each of these traditionally consists of a healthier diet, or healthier habits on their part, or a simple vitamin supplement to fix the problem.

Although there are many more serious conditions men may have that do require more serious fixes, those are few and far between. Another great fix for any issues men may have would simply be to stagger intercourse through the woman’s fertile period, or even to abstain until ovulation in order to give his swimmers the best possible chance to fertilize and egg.

Women on the other hand experience limited fertile cervical fluid, luteal phase problems, anovulation due to being underweight or overweight, irregular menstrual cycles, long infertile cycles, or hypothyroidism, and repeat miscarriages. Most of these problems are solved using anything from vitamin supplements to simply getting rid of processed foods and refined ingredients from your diet, on the easy side. But for severe issues, this may mean invasive surgery on the more difficult side. The likelihood of truly severe problems requiring surgery is very low.

Source

A Woman Can Get Pregnant Once the Couple Adopts

Not only is this not true, but it is misleading. The reasoning behind this misconception is that she is stressed out from the strains of trying to conceive, and having a baby in her arms will end the stress, allowing her body to conceive. We’ve discussed how stress does not prevent a couple from getting pregnant. Only a couple’s lack of knowledge about her cycle and lack of awareness of her symptoms are typically preventing the pregnancy.

For another thing, stress does not stop once a couple adopts! In fact, having a brand-new baby in the house dramatically increases the stress on a woman’s mind, body, and emotions. If stress truly were the culprit, this would only exacerbate the problem rather than fixing it.

When it truly comes down to it, people tend to hear about those couples that get pregnant after adoption, but not all the cases where women did not get pregnant. And why would they advertise that? What likely happened is simply that intercourse lined up with the woman’s fertile days without them realizing it, and therefore she finally became pregnant.

Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For
Common Infertility Myths to Watch Out For | Source

If you want to have a baby naturally, like my husband and I did, and you don't want to have to deal with all the infertility hype, consider simply charting. Yes, I mean regularly measuring your basal body temperature and cervical fluid.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it may even sound a little gross or embarrassing. However with a little effort, will you understand your body and your cycle so much better, you'll be able to tell the doctors what you think is wrong, and you’ll save yourself a lot of money. What's even better is that by charting, you'll never have to hear the word ‘infertile’ from the doctor again, and you won't have to wait a year to find out if there are problems.

Within a few months, you'll be able to time intercourse perfectly to your ovulation, rather than it just being random. And then pregnancy is just a mere couple of months away at the most. Just so you know, it took us two years to conceive the first time. When I went back through the years and charted my symptoms, it turns out that we had missed my ovulation by a day or two before or after for two years. Seriously! We weren't infertile, just incredibly unlucky.

Once I read that book and started charting, I got pregnant that very first month. No kidding! Don't let anyone tell you that you're infertile, unless of course it's been proven by through medical testing. I hope this article hope you feel a little better about the possibility of conceiving naturally.

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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness

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    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      3 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Yes, however truly only about 2% of the entire population is honestly "infertile" due to some sort of disease, birth defect, or other problem. I do admit that there ARE women out there that have tried and true problems, but there are so few that cannot be helped with charting (See Taking Charge of Your Fertility above) that this is worth giving it a shot. If anything, charting might alert you to a problem you didn't know existed and may help you to fix it.

      Update: I have seen many a doctor since I first wrote this article and I still have yet to find a doctor that has been helpful. I would never say uneducated, but then you have to consider what kind of education they are getting. If topics like ovulation and breastfeeding, for instance, are not taught in their curriculum, does this mean they are not educated?

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      That may have been your experience, but how many doctors did you see who were that uneducated or unhelpful? It has not been my experience with the medical profession at all. The basics of ovulation, timing and how to improve your chances of naturally-occuring pregnancy were always the first things discussed. Shoot, I learned about it in my early sex ed in school and from my grandparents, who were a practicing nurse and GP back in the 50s-60s.

      My main issue is that, of course, women - and men - need to educate themselves, first, on how their cycles work and how to best improve their chances for successful pregnancy. But it feels a little dangerous to me to suggest to those struggling with fertility should assume there is nothing wrong that won't be fixed by just charting their cycles, that infertility isn't a real disease when it is. Many of us are infertile due to reasons like PCOS, endometriosis, early ovarian failure, low sperm count, blocked fallopian tubes, etc. And quite a few of these ARE treatable if caught and diagnosed properly.

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      The only problem is the over-diagnosis of that term. So a couple struggles to get pregnant for a year or two. Were they actually instructed on when to have sex, what ovulation actually means and when it occurs, or how to read their bodies fertility signals to know when they are most fertile?

      The answer is no. Women, like I was, are just being sent home and told to have sex. We struggled for two years, and were told that we were infertile and unlikely to conceive, until I found the book "Taking Control of Your Fertility."

      I discovered that not only was I very fertile, but for two years we had barely missed the right time to have sex by days. No wonder we weren't getting pregnant. By following the author's advice and tracking my cycles, I got pregnant the first month we tried!

      So much for being infertile. :)

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      To dismiss that "only 10%" of couples are "actually infertile" is to dismiss that it IS, in fact, a very serious issue. And not statistically correct to begin with. By CDC statistics, "1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC)"

      If a woman under 35 has not been able to get pregnant, after a year of trying, she absolutely should be seeking medical evaluation to find out why (and after 6 months if you are 35+ because of the limited time span and limited fertility you are working with from the beginning.) It could be that nothing is wrong but it very well could be due to factors which could be medically treatable, and the sooner diagnosed the more likely a successful outcome. We need to stop feeling like infertility is something to be "embarrassed" about but instead recognize that it is as real of a medical condition as any other, and one that needs to be treated as such.

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks! After being told we were infertile and needed painful and expensive infertility procedures immediately, we discovered on our own that we simply weren't timing our intimate evenings correctly. $$ and much embarrassment and heartache saved!

      I hope I was able to do that same service for other couples.

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 

      4 years ago

      Nice job dispelling some old myths as well as a good lesson as well. Voted up

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      And what's worse is that couples blunder through trying to conceive with no help from their doctors. And then when they undoubtedly struggle, their doctor tells them they are infertile.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      It can be quite stressful to play the "waiting game" when you want to have a baby but can't conceive. Just that might be enough to not getting pregnant!

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