Facts about Infertility

Fertility is a widely discussed topic of conversation and there is a lot of speculation about the various issues. “Old wives tales” have merged with scientific facts and there is a lot of confusion over the real truth. Below is a list of some infertility facts, in no specific order of importance:

– Many factors can contribute to infertility – male, female and unexplained factors, as well as lifestyle factors, such as smoking, weight issues, sexually transmitted diseases and alcohol use.

– A woman’s fertility decreases with age, especially after the age of 35. A healthy 30 year old woman has about a 20% chance in getting pregnant each month, whereas a 40 year old woman’s chances drop to about 5% a month.

– Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse, or six months if the woman is over 35. It affects one in seven couples in their childbearing years.

– Most couples are treated with conventional therapies, such as medication and surgery and less than 3% are treated with more sophisticated procedures known as assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Invitro fertilization (IVF) is the most commonly used ART procedure. Many couples are now choosing alternative methods to assist in conceiving, such as acupuncture, herbs and reflexology.

– Couples should seek medical help from a physician if they are unable to become pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse, or six months if the woman is over 35. Women should always speak to their  health care provider about their fertility concerns. 

– Stress related to infertility is second only to the stress related to the death of a loved one and stress often plays a huge role in fertility, so it is like a “vicious circle” and relaxation is the most difficult but important thing to try and achieve first, but it does not cause infertility. It can enhance the fertility problem. 

– Making notes and charting fertility signs can be extremely useful in the diagnosis and resolution of fertility issues, like problems with ovulation, which is the most common fertility issue in women.

– Studies suggest that the majority of couples who are determined to become parents will achieve a successful pregnancy. At least half the couples will respond to treatment with a successful pregnancy.

 – 40% of infertility cases are caused by female factors, 40% by male factors and 20% is a combination of both.

– A woman’s cycle lasts between 24 to 36 days and not strictly 28 days.

– Ovulation is not always on Day 14 of the woman’s monthly cycle and occurs on the day of the drop or the rise in your BBT chart. Each woman is different and each month can vary, so it is advised to use ovulation predictor kits to check the actual window of ovulation and the exact period of ovulation cannot be predicted by the basal body temperature. By the time the temperature has risen, ovulation has already occurred and since the egg can live for 12-24 hours, the temperature method alone is not a good indicator of ovulation.

– The egg can live up to 24 hours, so you can achieve a pregnancy anytime from about five days prior to ovulation to as much as two days afterwards, which makes a total of seven days to fall pregnant and not only on one day during each cycle.

– Stress won’t delay your period, or cause infertility, but it can delay ovulation.  The number of days in your luteal phase (time between ovulation and your period) typically will remain constant with each cycle and so stress won’t prevent conception, but it can delay ovulation by suppressing the hormones required for it to occur.

– You don’t have to wait at least 3 to 6 months after stopping birth control pills before trying to conceive. The hormone levels in the body return to normal almost immediately after you stop taking the pill and you should begin to ovulate in the next cycle.

– Fertility drugs can increase the chance of having twins or triplets, but most women who take them have single births. 

– Once in menopause, a woman’s hormones change and her body stops releasing eggs from the ovaries. Women are born with over 400,000 eggs and it would never be possible to release that many eggs over a lifetime!

– Implantation occurs in the uterus, but conception actually occurs in the outer third of the fallopian tubes.

– Sperm can actually survive for up to five days in a woman’s reproductive system.