Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.
One in six Irish couples experience difficulties conceiving. This diagnosis can have huge implications on a relationship, altering it dramatically, and also lead to depression, anxiety and a sense of shame as it threatens the lifelong expectations of hopes of parenthood.
Luckily, not all hope is to be lost. Medical advances such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) have made it possible for many couples who were deemed 'infertile' to conceive.
Five common misconceptions on fertility treatments:
1 - Women are more likely to be infertile than men
Due to the woman carrying the baby, not the man, people often think that the infertility issue must be related to the female anatomy. In fact, men and women are equally responsible. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, there is an even split between the male, female and the couple. One-third of cases are down to the male, one-third attributable to the female, and the rest are either both sides or unexplained.
The primary causes of infertility in males is low sperm count, poor sperm movement and abnormal sperm shape. The reasons for women are irregular ovulation, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and diminished ovarian reserve due to age.
2 - Stress causes infertility
Anyone experiencing infertility has, at some point if their journey, get advice such as "Relax, you're trying too hard. Just take a break, and you'll get pregnant."
While stress and infertility have been linked, stress does not cause infertility. Although, the research does not fully account for the indirect effects of stress, such as alcohol use, increased smoking, infrequent sex and dropping out of treatment.
Some studies have found that seeking counselling to help with stress may improve pregnancy rates. Other studies have found this to only be evident in couples not receiving medical treatments. Counselling can indeed help couples reduce stress and cope more effectively, but they should not expect that advice will increase their chances of pregnancy.
Overall, the thought that stress causes infertility unfairly places the responsibility for treatment failure or success on the shoulders of the woman, a conclusion which is not supported by science.
3 - IVF works for most patients
Although IVF is the most popular fertility treatment, it's not the only option and isn't the solution to all patients. Each fertility journey has its characteristics and each patient their own path, so generalise and offer a one-size fit's all solution is never the right approach. Treatments such as Timed Sexual Intercourse (TSI) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are other options. Still, it all goes with the agreement between the patient and doctor, the overall health situation of the patient, among other factors.
4 - The Doctor can tell you what you need to know
The truth is that your doctor will be able to recommend the tests needed to verify your diagnosis and, based on these results, recommend you the best alternative to your specific case. But your doctor shouldn't be the only source of information. Here at ReproMed, we believe that as much information a patient gets about fertility, and it's journey, the better. That's why we have several social media channels and this blog, where we keep track of the most recent fertility news and advice while sharing medical information and patient stories. That way, you have enough time to take a thoughtful decision about your fertility journey.
5 - Science and healthy living have extended the biological clock
Unfortunately, this is not the truth. Although science has an essential role in helping people achieve successful pregnancies in advanced ages, with the help of procedures like IUI and IVF, there's no guarantee that any fertility treatment will result in a pregnancy in the first place.
Here at ReproMed, we are happy to say that our success rates are amongst the highest in Ireland. The average age of our female patients is 36.9, with success rates in between 46% and 62% closest to this age. These figures are the result of the ongoing work of our professional team and the constant incorporation of new technologies. Still, if you walk inside any of our clinics today, none of our team members will assure you that you will become pregnant in X or Y months. To simply put, no one can do that.
At ReproMed, we can assure you that we will do everything in our ability to provide you with all the information needed while helping you choose the best treatment for you. Our professionals will then use all the science and most recent technology available to try and help you achieve your dreamt pregnancy.
To finalise, our team has worked in a podcast episode to talk about the above and other myths surrounding fertility treatments. Watch it below and subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you won't miss any of our updates.