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Six Myths About Fertility

Six Myths About Fertility

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How stress, food and age affect infertility

If you’re trying to conceive, you’ve probably heard several myths about fertility. We’ve debunked six myths here:

1.    Stress causes infertility

Almost every couple encounters stress in their lives. While it is certainly common for infertility to cause stress, it is quite unlikely for stress to be a cause of infertility. Times of high stress may certainly impede couples from trying to conceive. Scientifically, however, it is not clear if there is a causal mechanism between stress and infertility. Furthermore, the last thing a woman wants to hear is, "You're too stressed ... just relax and it will happen."

2.    Foods affect fertility

There are no specific foods that have been directly linked to infertility. In general, a well-balanced diet with not too much of any one thing is the way to go.

3.    Smoking is fine, as long as I quit when I'm pregnant

Not true. Besides the well-known negative impact of smoking on health, smoking results in a faster decline of ovarian reserve for women, increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, and lowers the chance of a successful outcome with fertility treatments.

4.    Female age doesn't matter as long as you are under 35

Women are born with a limited egg supply that progressively declines with age. This results in a measurable decline in fertility that begins in the mid-20’s and becomes progressively steeper in the mid-30’s. After the mid-40’s the chance of a successful live birth with a woman’s own eggs is extremely low.

5.    Male fertility does not decline with age

False. Although men have the luxury of generating new sperm on a regular basis, their sperm quality does decline with age. There is also greater DNA fragmentation seen in sperm with increasing age.

6.    Infertility is mostly a female issue

This was a commonly held belief that is not true. Infertility impacts men and women equally. Among all couples seeking help for infertility, about half of them have male factor issues.

- Tarun Jain, MD, Northwestern Medical Group, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

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