15 Infertility Myths That Screw With Your Head

15 Infertility Myths That Screw With Your Head
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Dealing with infertility is hard enough without all the unsolicited "advice" that well-meaning friends, family members, and even strangers insist on sharing. Not only is this kind of counsel typically pointless because every couple is different, but these tips are generally based on old wives' tales and misinformation.

"There are so many myths out there regarding fertility and pregnancy," Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, told CafeMom. "I'll start with one that my mother's obstetrician told to her when she was pregnant with me," said Dr. Minkin.

"My relatives were driving her crazy with these stupid old wives' tales, so he told her, 'Look, I'll tell you the only true one. If at some point during your pregnancy you see a man naked, there's a good chance your baby will be born naked.' So I tell that to my patients also when they are barraged by these crazy myths!"

The best way to stay sane is to ignore what people say, Dr. Minkin added. But it can also help to arm yourself with facts, so that when your mother-in-law (or sister, or cousin, or anybody) tries to give you some ridiculous explanation for why you're having a hard time getting pregnant, you can do a little on-the-spot myth-busting. Read on to find out what some of the most common misconceptions about infertility are -- and if there's any truth behind them!

  • Myth: Stress Is Keeping You From Getting Pregnant

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    For some reason, when you're stressed out about trying to conceive, people love to tell you how that stress is probably what's keeping you from getting pregnant in the first place (like that's really gonna help!). And as it turns out, this isn't even true:

    "To be fair, there are certain stressors that can bother women trying to conceive -- but it is unlikely that stress will block the process," said Dr. Minkin.

  • Myth: If Your Mother Didn't Have Trouble Getting Pregnant, You Won't Either

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    grandma and grandkids
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    Just because your mom had five kids or your sister got pregnant on her first try doesn't mean you'll have the same experience. Most of the time, infertility is not hereditary (though there are a few genetic conditions that might make it difficult to conceive, such as a chromosomal abnormality). 

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  • Myth: If You Had Trouble Getting Pregnant the First Time, You Will Again

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    Just because you tried for years to conceive Baby #1 doesn't mean Baby #2 will take the same kind of effort, though many people think so.

    "This is totally untrue," said Dr. Minkin, sharing one of her own patients' stories as an example:

    "One of my patients had to have in vitro to conceive her first pregnancy -- twins -- and surprise, with no fertility treatment at all, she delivered her third child. She was delighted, but they certainly had not been trying to conceive -- she was convinced she would never get pregnant without in vitro!"

  • Myth: If He's Already a Dad, a Man Can't Have Infertility Problems

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    Just because Mick Jagger fathered a child in his 70's doesn't mean every man stays quite so fertile as he ages -- even if he already has other kids. According to one 2004 study, a man's chances of becoming a father drop by 11 percent every year (so women aren't the only ones with biological clocks!).

  • Myth: Infertility Is a Woman's Problem

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    Contrary to years of popular thought, there's no reason to assume that a couple's struggles to conceive are caused by the woman

    "Another issue that is a myth is that all fertility issues are women's problems," said Dr. Minkin. "Indeed, it's really about 50/50, as far as problems related to eggs making it to the uterus, and healthy sperm making it up inside the uterus."

    Among the most common problems leading to infertility in men are those relating to testicular function, as well as hormone imbalances and blockages in the male reproductive organs. About 50 percent of the time, the cause of male infertility can't be determined.

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  • Myth: Having Sex Every Day Is the Best Way to Conceive

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    If you're TTC, you're probably under a lot of pressure to have all the sex, all the time -- but according to research, having intercourse every day does not appear to increase the chances greatly over every other day. What's more important is making sure that you sync your efforts with ovulation!

  • Myth: If You're Young, You Won't Have Trouble Getting Pregnant

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    We tend to think of infertility as a problem only older women face, but the facts say otherwise: Acording to data from the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, slightly less than 44% of women who have IVF are between the ages of 18 and 34; less than 20% are over 40.

  • Myth: Your Husband Might Leave If You Can't Get Pregnant

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    In ancient times, infertile women had to worry about being called witches or cast out of their communities; now, some women are told they should worry about their husbands leaving them if they have trouble getting pregnant. Do we even need to explain why this is utterly ridiculous?!

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  • Myth: Infertility Will Ruin Your Sex Life

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    While it's true that the pressures of having "productive" sex can cast a bit of a shadow over your love life temporarily, there's no reason to lose hope: A 10-year follow-up of couples who went through IVF therapy (both successfully and unsuccessfully) found that their sexual satisfaction was "adequate" or "better than adequate." 

  • Myth: If You Adopt a Child, You'll Suddenly Get Pregnant

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    We've all heard the stories about couples who struggle with infertility for years only to adopt, and then -- bam! -- they're surprised with a seemingly effortless pregnancy. But stastically, there's no correlation between adoption and an end to infertility; according to the National Infertility Association (Resolve.org), research shows that the rate for getting pregnant after an adoption is the same for people who don't adopt.

  • Myth: Getting Pregnant Is Easy for Most People

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    It might seem like conceiving is a breeze for everybody else when you're struggling, but that's simply not the case: According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 12 percent of women in the US have difficulty getting pregnant and/or carrying a pregnancy to term. You're not alone!

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  • Myth: You'll Get Pregnant Eventually If You Just Keep Trying

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    While persistence and positive thinking will help you to achieve many goals in life, pregnancy isn't necessarily one of them. First of all, experts recommend trying for a year before seeking help (six months if you're over 35), so time doesn't always equal success -- and some medical issues will require intervention no matter how long you keep at it.

  • Myth: Infertility Treatments Mean You'll Probably Have Twins

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    While the medication used to boost ovulation during the course of fertility treatments does raise your risk of having a multiple pregnancy, they're no guarantee you'll end up with more than one baby: Most twins are actually the result of spontaneous conception!

  • Myth: You Don't Have to Quit Smoking Until You Get Pregnant

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    According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as much as 13 percent of female infertility diagnoses are due to smoking.

  • Myth: You'll Have a Harder Time Getting Pregnant if You Took Birth Control Pills

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    You've probably heard it said that women who take birth control pills for years have a harder time getting pregnant, but research shows the opposite: One study in the journal Human Reproduction found that women who took the pill for over five years were were in fact more likely to get pregnant within six months to a year than women who never took the pill.

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