Top Five Myths About Infertility (*Day #3*)

A lot of people hear things about infertility that often are not true. Things like "drinking mountain dew or red bull can make a male infertile" are the silly myths we hear, and so I figured I would debunk these myths by posting the top five myths of infertility.

Both women and men often wrongly believe that the cause of infertility is the female partner. In fact, the causes of infertility are nearly equal among male and female partners, with 40% of cases attributed to males and 60% to females. Thirty percent (30%) of those couples have both a male and female factor and another 20% are unexplained.
For this reason, a complete infertility work-up always tests both male and female partners. A semen analysis is the primary test of male fertility. It's a fast, simple test that looks at a semen sample under a microscope and reports on several factors such as the concentration of sperm in the sample and their motility, or the movement of the sperm.
Fortunately, male factor infertility is one of the most successfully treated forms of infertility. All that is needed is one good sperm to fertilize an egg.

This is the single most common misconception about conception. A woman’s fertility naturally decreases with age. A woman in her 20s has about a 20% chance of becoming pregnant on her own each month. By the time she's in her late 30s, that chance has gone down to 10% per cycle and continues to decline. After trying for 3-4 months, each month thereafter, pregnancy rates decline. After trying for 1 year, a woman in her early 30s has about 1.5% chance of pregnancy per month.
The first line of treatment is often Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which has success rates that mirror natural success rates of fertile women, depending on her age. The goal of IVF treatment is to increase your chances of success - higher than what a fertile woman could achieve naturally. 

Depending on the age of the patient, the most recent IVF success rates show that pregnancy rates are between 52%- 60% for women under the age of 37. At a certain point in each woman’s reproductive life, often for women over 40, treatment using their own eggs becomes increasingly unsuccessful and the use of donated eggs becomes the preferred treatment choice. This is because as a women gets older, the success rate of getting pregnant is related to the quality of the eggs and not the uterus.

This makes it very important to see a fertility specialist according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s recommended guidelines. Those guidelines state that women under 35 should have a complete infertility workup after 12 months of trying to conceive without success. Women over 35 should seek help after only 6 months of unsuccessful trying. Even if you haven't been “actively trying” - if you stopped using contraception such as birth control and condoms a few years ago and haven't gotten pregnant - you should consider an evaluation from a reproductive endocrinologist to be sure everything is ok.

Fertility treatment has gotten increasingly more affordable over the last several years thanks to financial tools designed to help patients pay for treatment. Often, most fertility centers offer innovative financial programs and on providing financial counselors that help couples take advantage of all the tools possible, starting with their insurance coverage.
Patients with insurance frequently have some or all of the costs of fertility treatment covered. In fact, 90% of patients with insurance have coverage for their initial consultation. Nearly 70% of those patients seeking fertility treatment have some level of coverage for testing, treatment or medications.
For treatment costs that are not covered by insurance, there are a number of financial programs that have helped thousands of patients. In 2011 alone, over 2,300 patients used these financial programs for fertility assistance.

Many couples believe that once they see a fertility specialist, they will be on the fast track to IVF. The reality is that most specialists take a stepped approach to treatment, pursing the least complicated (and least expensive) treatment first that gives the best chance of success.
50% of all the treatment cycles performed each year are not IVF, but IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). IUI is considered a "low tech" option that is less invasive and less costly than IVF. It is also covered by insurance providers for many patients.
Some patients may use IVF as a first line of treatment because of their particular diagnosis, such as blocked tubes or sever male factor, while others may move on to IVF if they don't have success with lower tech treatments. Still, IVF makes up only 40% of the cycles performed at any fertility center each year.
The remaining 10% of treatment cycles are those that use Donor Eggs.

Several years ago not many fertility patients talked about their struggles or treatment making the true size of the disease known by few. With the introduction of the internet and online support groups patients are talking about their fertility journey more than ever. 
Today, it seems that everyone knows someone who has had trouble conceiving. Women may find, especially in Metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC that infertility may seem more common because of the highly educated population of women who are putting careers first and putting off motherhood until later in life.
The fact is that 7 million couples, on average, 1 in 6 couples of reproductive years, will be infertile and need some form of fertility treatment. Patient advocacy groups and online patient networks  are great resources for information and patient perspective. You are not alone.

There are loads of other infertility myths, and it is important that you understand how to separate myth from facts. Please consider that when your talking with someone who has infertility.


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