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