Separating Fact from Fiction: Common Infertility Myths
MADISON - For couples having problems conceiving, it seems like there's no end of advice available from well-meaning family and friends, and even the Internet.
The problem is that the information is often not true, and in some cases, can even hinder the chances of actually conceiving.
Recently, Generations Fertility Care hosted a community talk for couples to help sort fact from fiction. J. Preston Parry, MD, infertility specialist with Generations Fertility Care, discussed common myths related to fertility, treatments and pregnancy.
A common belief is that certain positions during intercourse will increase a couple's chances of conceiving. According to Dr. Parry, it's simply not true.
"If we had to have the perfect position to get pregnant," commented Dr. Parry, "the species would've gone extinct long ago."
According to information from various sources on the Internet, taking cough syrup is supposed to help a woman's chances of conceiving. The theory, explained Dr. Parry, is that it is supposed to thicken the cervical mucus, making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg. But, a randomized trial showed that cough syrup didn't improve pregnancy rates.
"Taking the wrong kind of cough syrup - a decongestant - can also make matters worse because it will actually dry up the cervical mucus," said Dr. Parry
It's All in the Timing
Many women who have struggled to conceive have, at some point, dutifully tracked their basal body temperature looking for when it increases as a sign that they're ovulating.
"After a woman has ovulated, her temperature rises. But by then, it's too late for conception," said Dr. Parry.
Instead, couples should try timing intercourse before the expected rise in a woman's body temperature.
45 is the New 35
Sometimes it seems like there's no age limit in Hollywood when it comes to getting pregnant. Several female celebrities have had twins at age 45. But that can be very misleading. What is often left out of media stories is the number of times the celebrities have tried assisted reproductive treatments, or if they've used donor eggs as part of the treatment process.
Dr. Parry cited a study of 2,705 IVF cycles at age 40 and over. The study showed the pregnancy rate for in vitro fertilization treatment (IVF) at age 45 was approximately one percent with one's own eggs. And at age 46 and over, no one got pregnant using their own eggs.
"A couple's age does have an impact on the success rates of advanced reproductive techniques," explained Dr. Parry. "Couples over the age of 35 should see a health professional sooner, rather than waiting, in order to maximize their chances of success."
It's Easier the Second Time Around
Many women who already have a child expect they won't experience any difficulties the second time. But, secondary infertility is common and can leave couples feeling stressed and alone.
"Couples experiencing secondary infertility sometimes do not get support from the infertility community because they already have a child. But the stress of infertility can be just as great," explained Dr. Parry.
It's commonly believed that infertility is strictly a female problem. Yet, in up to 50 percent of cases where a cause is found, there is a male factor involved as well.
"It is why we always evaluate the man's health as well as the woman's at the beginning," explained Dr. Parry.
Knowing whether there is a male factor involved can ensure the proper treatments are recommended from the beginning.
"We want to spare couples the emotional and financial stresses of undergoing unnecessary treatments," commented Dr. Parry.
Generations Fertility Care has a fellowship-trained male infertility specialist on staff, Dr. Dan Williams, who offers a range of services including vasectomy reversal, fertility preservation and treatments for men with low or no sperm.
Couples experiencing infertility frequently hear, "just adopt, then you'll get pregnant." And often, those same well-meaning friends and family members offer numerous anecdotal examples to back that sentiment up.
In reality, however, it's just not true.
"Pregnancy rates after adoption are eight to 10 percent. That is the same as for couples with long-standing sub-fertility who didn't adopt," said Dr. Parry.
We Can't Afford Treatment
While it is true that assisted reproductive treatments are not routinely covered by health insurance, the cost of the treatment is very dependent on a couple's actual needs.
Dr. Parry explained that insurance often can cover the initial evaluation, and if treatments are recommended there are many ways for couples to manage the cost.
According to Dr. Parry, if the woman has a reasonable number of eggs, the man has more than 10 million motile sperm, the tubes are open, and the uterus appears normal, 30 to 50 percent of these women can get pregnant in a three-month period with total treatment costs of approximately $2,000. For a couple that has been trying to conceive for two years, their chances over those same three months can often be only three to six percent.
Dr. Parry also pointed out that in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments at Generations are actually half the cost they were three years ago. And, the clinic offers an IVF Reassurance program that refunds as much as 70 percent of the package price if the IVF treatments are not successful.
Couples undergoing treatment at Generations Fertility Care will be supported by a team that promotes both effective and cost-effective care. Additionally, Generations has a dedicated financial counselor on staff who can help couples navigate insurance benefits, obtain low-interest loans from banks (not credit cards with rates that shift with a single late payment), and more.
Wait One Year
Most couples have heard that they should try at least one year before seeing a fertility specialist. In reality, couples can come at any time for a consultation and there are many reasons for couples to come in as soon as possible, including:
- Over age 35
- Known risk factors for infertility such as a medical condition, or a history of abdominal surgery (for women)
- Need guidance for trying on their own
"Our goal is to maximize chances of conception," concluded Dr. Parry. "We want to help do everything safely possible for a positive outcome."
New Clinic Opening Soon
Generations Fertility Care's new clinic, located at 2365 Deming Way in Middleton, will be opening this fall. Join Dr. Dan Lebovic, Dr. Sana Salih, Dr. Charles Bormann, Dr. Dan Williams and Dr. Preston Parry, and the entire Generations staff during their Open House August 29 from 2-4pm.
Date Published: 06/22/2010