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Addressing fertility: The fact and fiction

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, July 05, 2007 | 0 comments

Myth: Infertility is a female problem:

Doctor's comment: Fact: Women and men share near equal responsibility when it comes to infertility. Infertility is either a female or male problem in two-thirds of cases and a combined problem of the couple in one-third of cases. That is why it is important for both members of the couple to undergo medical evaluation to determine the cause and reduce unexplained cases.

Stacey's comment: This is nice to see for a change. Most women are being blamed for fertility issues especially when an IVF procedure doesn't create a viable pregnancy. The usual excuse is that your eggs are too old. But clearly this is not always the case. There are many variables, it could be the sperm, the endometrial lining, the procedure itself or the drugs didn't agree with that person.

When a person goes to the doctors office with high blood pressure and they try a medication and this medication doesn't work, you usually don't hear that there is something wrong with the patient and that is why the drug didn't produce the desired result. You usually hear that this drug just isn't right for you and they try another.

Doc comment: Myth: You're too stressed. Relax and you'll get pregnant.

Fact: Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. Although stress can sometimes affect hormone levels and quality of ovulation, emotions are not keeping you from getting pregnant. The stress and intense emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not its cause.

Stacey comment: At this point in time infertility is not officially classified as a disease, although drug companies would love it if it was because then no one else could touch it except doctors. And in a significant amount of cases there is no evidence that anything is wrong with the couple. This is called Unexplained Infertilty and there is no "disease" present, however there is certainly "dis-ease" in the body.

I think saying that emotions are not keeping a person from getting pregnant is a very vague statement. There are certain emotional states such as depression that have been linked with difficulty becoming pregnant. I agree that it is not about relaxing and you will become pregnant but I do think that even if stress did not contribute to fertility issues for some, it certainly can perpetuate it. This has been shown in clinical studies to be a strong possibility via studies done by Dr. Alice Domar at Boston IVF.

Doc comment: Myth: Be patient, you will get pregnant with time.

Fact: Infertility is a medical problem that usually requires treatment. If you are concerned for any reason about your ability to conceive, you should be evaluated by a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as possible especially if you, as a woman have one of more of the following factors present:

• Over the age of 35
• Have irregular cycles
• Experience painful menstrual periods
• Suffered several pregnancy losses
• Had a pelvic infection or abdominal surgery

Stacey's comment: I do think that if you are experiencing any of the above issues that you should seek assistance. However I do not believe that any of the above INCLUDING not being pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex should result in the diagnosis of infertility. If the woman is still creating eggs, and has a uterus, and the man is still making sperm no matter how long they have been trying there is still the potential to create an embryo and therefore in my mind they are still fertile. The term infertility in my opinion is inaccurate and in my opinion, shouldn't be utilised unless there are clearly no eggs or no sperm. Many times just receiving this diagnosis is a source a significant and unnecessary stress for the couple.

Doc comment: Myth: If you are over 35, you are more likely to be infertile.

Fact: Fertility does decrease over time, but if you and your partner are healthy, don't have any of the risks and if you are have regular periods, you don't need an infertility evaluation just because you are 35. A couple is considered to be infertile if they have not conceived after 12 months of unprotected intercourse if the female is under the age of 35, the couple has not conceived after six months of unprotected intercourse, if the female is over the age of 35 or the female is incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Stacey's comment: Hallelujah! It is great to hear this from a doctor. Over 35 is not a death sentence like many believe!

Doctor who commented: Zvi Binor, M.D. is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist with Rush-Copley Center for Reproductive Health.


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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