This week is Infertility Awareness Week and you might wonder why the heck you should be aware of it, especially if you’ve never had to deal with fertility issues. Well, it seems like most people don’t know much at all about infertility unless it happens to them — and they’re really caught off guard by the facts. Plus, fertility problems are so common that you’re likely to have a friend, sibling or other family member who does. And you want to be supportive right? According to Cynthia Murdock, MD, staff physician and fertility specialist in Reproductive Medicine at RMA of Connecticut, these are some common infertility misconceptions—and she shares the real deal on them:
Myth #1: It’s a Woman’s Thing
You might think that most infertility issues are related to ovulation and other female stuff, but Murdock says, in the couples that seek treatment in her office, about 40 percent find out the trouble is with the woman only. 40 percent find out it’s with the man and in the remaining 20 percent, it’s both of them. “That’s why it’s important to evaluate both members,” she says . “It’s a couple’s issue and affects the relationship. Regardless of who has a problem, they have to go through this together.”
Myth #2: It Doesn’t Affect People in Their 20s
We’re always hearing about how women are more likely to have trouble getting pregnant if they’re over 35, but younger women can be affected by infertility too. “If they’ve been trying for a year and haven’t gotten pregnant, they need to go and get an evaluation, no matter their age,” says Murdock.
Myth #3: If You’re Not Pregnant By Now, You’re Doing Something Wrong
“Some people think they’re not timing things right or doing the right things to get pregnant,” adds Murdock, but if you’ve gone that full year without birth control and without conceiving, it’s less likely you’re doing something wrong and more likely there’s a physical problem. “Infertility is a disease and needs to be treated,” she adds.
Myth #4: Just Relax and You’ll Get Pregnant
Sure, stress can affect someone’s ability to conceive, but it’s more likely that having infertility makes someone stressed. And “relaxing” isn’t as easy as a lot of people make it seem. Murdock encourages patients to try yoga, acupuncture and other de-stressing methods while going through fertility testing and treatment. For some patients, this could help them get pregnant faster, but mostly they’re great ways to deal with their stress. So is going to counseling or joining a support group.
Myth #5: With Fertility Treatments, You’ll Definitely Conceive
When patients get fertility testing, they’re often given their chances of conceiving without treatment and with treatment. Often the chance without treatment is around 5 percent, says Murdock. With treatment it will be much higher, depending on age and the reason for infertility. “For someone under 35, their chance might be around 65 percent, for example,” says Murdock. “But people are surprised by that. They say, ‘Wow, I thought it would be 100 percent!’” So for many couples, the road to having a baby is long and hard.
Myth #6: You Have to Keep It on the DL
Some couples are embarrassed or shy about telling people they’re dealing with infertility, but having a fertility problem is no one’s fault. Many find that sharing with friends or with other couples going through it makes them feel stronger and better about their situation. So if you’re having trouble conceiving, chat with others like you on our message boards. You just might find it makes a world of difference to have a support group.