Infertility Myths & Misconceptions

Infertility Myth #1: Infertility is almost always a woman’s problem.
Fact: When there’s an identifiable cause of infertility, about half the time men contribute to the problem, according to Resolve, a national infertility organization. Resolve explains that a male factor is responsible in about 35 percent of infertile couples, and male and female factors together contribute to the problem in another 20 percent.

Infertility Myth #2: Drinking wine is better than hard alcohol, and it does not affect fertility.
Fact: In women, drinking may lead to irregular menstrual cycles and anovulatory menstruation (menstruation that occurs without ovulation). Alcohol can also increase the risk of birth defects once a woman becomes pregnant and can cause a severe collection of birth defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Infertility Myth #3: Many infertile couples are trying too hard. If they would just relax, they would conceive right away.
Fact: Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. Instead of booking that Puerto Vallarta vacation, infertile couples should schedule a doctor’s appointment. One or both partners may have a correctable medical condition that stands in the way of conception. If there’s no obvious physical explanation for infertility, a doctor can still suggest lifestyle changes that could boost the odds of parenthood.

Infertility Myth #4: Most couples can conceive any time they want.
Fact: According to Resolve, more than 5 million Americans of childbearing age have fertility problems. Even under the best circumstances, conception is tricky. It’s not unusual for a perfectly healthy, fertile couple to try for several months or more before achieving a pregnancy. And the longer couples wait to have children, the more difficult it can be: By the time the average woman reaches her early forties, half of her eggs are no longer viable. Most couples who can afford fertility treatments, however, can eventually conceive, if they are open to using egg donation.

Infertility Myth #5: Women don’t start to lose their fertility until their late 30s or early 40s.
Fact: According to a report in the journal Human Reproduction, a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 27, although this isn’t clinically significant. Most women of this age can still get pregnant, of course, but it might take a few more months of trying. But by the time a woman reaches 35, her chances of getting pregnant during any particular attempt are about half of what they were between the ages of 19 and 26.

Infertility Myth #6: Boxer shorts and loose pants are the ideal garb for prospective fathers.
Fact: Researchers at the University of New York at Stony Brook put this piece of conventional wisdom to the test and concluded that underwear style is unlikely to significantly affect a man’s fertility. So ultimately, wearing roomy shorts probably won’t help a man become a father—but on the other hand, it won’t hurt, either.

Infertility Myth #7: Little can be done to improve a man’s sperm count.
Fact: No matter how sparse his troops may be, a man still has reason for hope. Many men who produce little or no sperm have blockages or other treatable conditions. Lifestyle changes—such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and staying out of hot tubs—may also help.

Infertility Myth #8: A man’s fertility doesn’t change with age.
Fact: While some men can father children into their 80s or 90s, male fertility isn’t age-proof. As reported in Human Reproduction, a man’s fertility usually begins to dip after about age 35. The decline is generally slow and gradual, but it can speed up dramatically if a man develops a condition that hampers sperm production (such as an infection in the genital tract).

Infertility Myth #9: Vasectomy reversals are rarely successful.
Fact: According to a report from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, some patients have a better than 50/50 chance of fathering a child after a vasectomy reversal. The longer a man waits to have a reverse vasectomy, however, the lower the odds.

Infertility Myth #10: Infertility means you can’t have a child.
Fact: Infertility means that you have been unable to have a child naturally after a year of trying. With the proper treatment, many people go on to have children. In addition, there is a possibility of a couple conceiving without treatment if the woman is ovulating and has one open tube, and the male partner has some sperm in his ejaculate. This rate may be lower than you would hope, but it is not zero.

Infertility Myth #11: Smoking marijuana does not affect fertility.
Fact: Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can dramatically affect sperm and egg quality, which of course has a dramatic impact on fertility.

Infertility Myth #12: Eating habits and weight have no barring on fertility.
Fact: Poor nutrition can have an impact on fertility. Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 or those who are severely underweight may have difficulties with fertility. Click here to download a handy BMI reference chart.

Infertility Myth #13: If you have intercourse a few times a month, you will get pregnant.
Fact: In conception, timing is everything. Women are the most fertile 14–21 days following their menstrual cycle (ovulating). Experts recommend intercourse every other day in this period to increase the likelihood of natural conception.

Infertility Myth #14: If a couple opts for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), they will have multiple babies.
Fact: IVF has been used successfully for over 25 years. The goal of any skilled IVF program is a healthy, single birth. The rate of multiples is approximately 20%, and there is a direct correlation with the mother’s age, as approximately 33% of embryos transferred result in a healthy child.

Infertility Myth #15: Age is not a factor in reproduction.
Fact: False. Age is a direct correlation to one’s egg quality and quantity. By the age of 35, the risk of infertility rises significantly. The optimal conception range for women is 18–29 years of age.


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