Let’s face it. Infertility is just one of those things in life that sneaks up on you, and you may not know until you’re trying to get pregnant. Once you realize you’re part of more than 6 million women whom it affects, it can feel completely overwhelming. The great thing is we live in an era of the best possible fertility treatments available. Family balancing, economic factors, and delay in childbearing have all lead to the increased demand in assisted reproductive technologies, but how much do you really know about them? For starters, more than 7 million women have utilized infertility services. Since information about fertility treatments isn’t typically discussed outside of the doctor’s office, let’s set the record straight on some common misconceptions about fertility.
1. You Don’t Need To Worry About Fertility Until You’re Ready To Get Pregnant
Just because your biological clock isn’t ticking yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider where your fertility stands. Approximately 12% of women in the US have impaired fertility. After you turn 30 (!!!) your egg quality decreases, so it’s better to start fertility treatment with the best quality eggs—meaning when you still have a good selection available. If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant in the future, but your biological clock isn’t ticking quite loudly enough yet, freezing your eggs is a helpful option to “stop the clock,” so to speak.
This option isn’t just for those between the ages of 35 and 40. If you’re younger but focused on your career, traveling, or something other than starting a family, having the option to potentially conceive later can give you some peace of mind.
And when you are finally ready, be sure to visit a fertility doctor for an assessment. In addition to conducting an initial assessment of your ovarian reserve, they can teach you how to get your best chance of properly conceiving.
2. You’re Too Young (Or Old) To Consider Fertility Treatments
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Tired Hollywood movie plots tend to make it appear as though infertility will only hit once you turn 35, but that’s not the case. A woman is actually defined as facing infertility if she is not able to get pregnant after one year of well-timed intercourse (if you’re under 35) and 6 months of well-timed intercourse (if you’re over 35). If you’re under 35 and can get pregnant but have experienced multiple miscarriages, this is also considered to be a cause of infertility.
If you’re younger, your odds are higher that you’ll be successful with fertility treatments. If you’re over the age of 35, your chances of getting pregnant decreases, but a fertility doctor can work with you to see what your best options are for fertility treatments.
3. You’re Guaranteed To Conceive If You Use In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
While using IVF doesn’t come with any guarantee you’ll become pregnant, it does increase your chances of conceiving, especially if you’ve been trying. Ultimately, your success rate is determined by your age.
If you’re 35 or younger, a single IVF treatment can increase your odds of conceiving to 50-60 percent. The use of next-generation sequencing in the screening of embryos for transfer has also led to shorter duration of time to successful pregnancies. For context, your chances of conceiving naturally during any cycle is less than 25 percent. And if you’re dealing with infertility, you may have less than a 5 percent chance of becoming pregnant. Generally speaking, about two-thirds of women treated for infertility end up having successful pregnancies.
4. You’ll Have Twins Or Triplets If You Use Fertility Treatments
No, you probably won’t end up as an Octomom. Though your chances of getting pregnant with more than one child increases with fertility treatments, not everyone experiences this. All in all, your risk of developing twins is less than 2 percent, and there are ways to control it—like choosing to have just one embryo transferred during IVF. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can also inform how high your risk is of having multiples, since it allows your fertility doctor to predict the number of mature eggs that your body will ovulate.
5. IVF Is The Only Option
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IVF is actually not the first choice when it comes to fertility treatment. If you can conceive naturally, that’s your best bet, but if you’re facing fertility issues and you’re younger than 38, your fertility doctor will go the IUI route (usually a minimum of 3 cycles). You’ll have lower chances of conceiving with an IUI cycle compared to IVF, but it is less invasive and most young women who have fertility issues do end up becoming pregnant with this treatment. If you don’t conceive within three cycles, your fertility doctor will typically recommend trying IVF as the next option.
By no means is this list exhaustive of the questions you may have about infertility. Even if there’s a chance you may want children later in life, ask your fertility doctor so you can have all your information straight from the source. They can help you make a decision about whether it will be maybe-baby in the future and create an action plan to get there.
Dr. Ho is a board-certified OB/GYN and board-certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Ho has over 30 years of experience and is very proficient in treating patients of all backgrounds but specializes in treating patients of Asian descent. He has assisted elite clientele, including authoritative government officials and high-end celebrities in Vietnam.
Images: Dr. Ho; scary mommy (2) / Instagram
We think that kids believe the stupidest things, but turns out, so do adults. Throughout history, people have believed tons of crazy myths about sex, no matter how ridiculous they sound to us now. But at the time, these people thought they were right (and they probably thought they were like, really smart). I don’t mean to sound smug, because the reality is, even today people still believe a variety of sex myths. And, look, I get it. Sex can be uncomfortable. Sometimes it feels like limbs are everywhere, and it can be overall an awkward experience. For some people (not me because I publicly write about my sex life), the thought of talking about sex with their parents, friends, or doctor is scary and uncomfortable, so they turn to the internet, which we all know is not always the source of reliable information.
To be honest, as a kid, I was so uncomfortable with the idea of sex that I refused for my mom to ever give me “the talk.” Hard to believe, I know. All I can say is thank God that the internet exists, or I would definitely still believe some of my own absurd sex myths. Here is a list of some of the craziest sex myths throughout history, that you’ll have trouble believing other people even took seriously (I hope).
Farts Caused Erections
Aphrodisiacs are a beautiful thing. Oysters, chocolate, wine, etc. are considered to be aphrodisiacs. But we don’t typically think of foods that make us gassy to be foods to set the mood. But up until the 18th century, Roman physician Galen believed foods that are “warm and moist” (yuck) and “windy” (aka that make you fart) were aphrodisiacs. Spicy foods (specifically peppers), carrots, asparagus, and others were thought to get people horny. Why? Because people used to believe that erections were caused by wind inflating the penis. Oh god. I don’t even have time to get into all the ways this is wrong. I trust you all took some basic sex ed, yes?
Sneezing After Sex
People really used to believe this myth that in order to prevent pregnancy, you needed to sneeze. Greek Physician Soronus recommended a woman do squats, sneezes, and then rinse out her vagina to avoid getting pregnant. This sex myth is absurd … if I just
had sex did some exercise, I don’t want to do more exercise by doing squats. And if this were the case, no person with seasonal allergies or a cold would ever get pregnant. Honestly, I wish it were that easy—then we would never have unwanted pregnancies.
Masturbation Cures Hysteria
This sex myth is crazy. Starting in the first century A.D., hysteria was described as a female-specific illness and was a result of a “wandering womb.” So what was the cure? Doctor-induced orgasms. It was thought that an orgasm (known as hysterical paroxysm) could help cure a woman of her symptoms. As a result, the vibrator was developed to help doctors with their verrry difficult jobs. The worst part? “Hysteria” was considered a medical condition in the DSM (aka the psychiatry bible) until 1980!!! Aka 5 years after the Vietnam War ended and Jaws was released. (Ever realize that a hysterectomy is the word for when a woman’s uterus is removed? Yeah.)
You Can’t Get Pregnant From Rape
This list of sex myths could not be complete without a scarily recent one by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin. In 2012, he told KTVI-TV that if a woman is legitimately raped, her body has a way of rejecting the sperm so she does not get pregnant. WTF?? The best part of his statement is that he said, “from what I understand from doctors.” I’m sorry, but what doctor is he talking to? Because they can’t possibly be licensed physicians. Also, don’t get me started with his use of “legitimate rape.”
Masturbating Ruins Your Eyesight
In 1758, Samuel Tissot, a Swiss physician, believed that the more semen a man lost from masturbating, the worse his eyesight would be. He wrote a whole book on the disease of masturbation. V curious about what other sex myths he believed. This sex myth also made people believe that masturbation causes a wide range of symptoms and that it is a disease in and of itself.
Periods Deform Babies
The French believed that if you had sex on your period and got pregnant, the baby would be deformed. The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation outlines the history of period myths. The book says that a baby conceived while a woman has her period will be “puny, languid, and moribund, subject to an infinity of fetid maladies, foul and stinking.” What vivid, gross imagery! There is also the myth that if you’re on your period, you can’t get pregnant. Although unlikely, it is still possible, making this among the common sex myths that people still believe. TBH people believe the craziest things about vaginas in general.
Thank god we as a society still don’t believe some of these truly ridiculous sex myths, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding the human body (and particularly the female anatomy). If nothing else, this proves we really need better sex education.
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