Fertility Myths

Fertility Myths: Clearing up what no one dares to expose

You can choose the sex of your baby during fertility treatment. Taking contraceptives affects fertility. Getting pregnant is easy… Are you familiar with any of these fertility myths? To clear up misinformation, in this article we from IVF-Life will set the record straight on those fertility myths that, sadly, we’ve all heard at some point or another.

Myths are unproven beliefs that circulate as if they were the truth. To celebrate fertility month, at IVF-Life we have compiled a list of the most common fertility myths.

Getting pregnant is easy

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you probably find it hard to believe how easy it has been for others to get pregnant. According to biology, this is a complex process involving many factors (female, male and even some unknown factors).

For couples without fertility problems, the chance of achieving pregnancy averages around 20% each ovulatory cycle. As fertility decreases with age, the chances of conceiving after the age of 37 are reduced to 10%. After the age of 40, a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant drop to only 1%. Currently, the maternal age factor is prevalent in 70% of the couples who consult our IVF-Life group fertility centres.

Our advice as professionals in reproductive medicine is to consult a specialist in assisted reproduction if you have been trying to get pregnant without protection for more than a year, or 6 months if you are over 35, to guide you on your journey towards motherhood.

Taking contraceptives causes infertility

One of the most widespread fertility myths amongst the general public.

Prolonged hormonal contraceptive use has no real impact on fertility. Numerous studies conclude that there are no real differences in pregnancy rates between women who have taken birth control and those who have not.

However, there are some cases of post-pill amenorrhoea. This occurs when menstruation does not immediately return after a woman has stopped taking contraceptives. This issue generally resolves itself spontaneously during the following cycles.

Infertility is often a female problem

Nothing could be further from the truth. According to statistics, the male factor accounts for 40% of cases of infertility, another 40% is due to female causes. In 10% of cases, we find a combination of both factors and the remaining 10% are due to currently unknown reasons.

But it is true that, after the age of 35, the ovarian reserve decreases considerably, while men, on the other hand, have a wider reproductive window and there is no information regarding the exact age at which their reproductive potential decreases.

Relax and you’ll get pregnant

There is nothing that women who are undergoing fertility treatment hate more than hearing: “if you would just relax, you would get pregnant”. This comment adds to the guilt that arises when one does not achieve something that others consider to be natural or easy.

Studies have shown that a high level of stress can cause hormonal imbalances that influence ovulation. However, the level of stress needed for this to actually occur must be extremely high.

If you have already had children, you cannot have fertility problems.

Although all signs indicate that, if you have had a successful pregnancy once, you should be able to get pregnant again easily, the reality is that there is such a thing called secondary infertility.

The reasons for secondary infertility can be the same as in primary infertility: ovulation, the fallopian tube, hormonal factors, genetic causes, etc. In addition, the age factor after the first pregnancy can also play a role.

On the other hand, other problems associated with the first pregnancy, such as diabetes or pelvic adhesions, may also occur.

Certain positions help you get pregnant

There has been plenty of speculation that certain sexual or post-sexual positions favour pregnancy, such as the notorious: Lift your legs and gravity will do the rest. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The reproductive process begins on its own when the semen reaches the vagina. Gravity has nothing to do with it. In fact, the texture of semen helps it to stick to the walls of the vagina. The amount of sperm that has not reached the vagina is not important and does not reduce the chances of pregnancy. Furthermore, the sperm are able to detect the presence of an oocyte and move towards it. Nature is well prepared for the search for a new life.

At fertility clinics, it is possible to choose the gender of the baby

Some women or couples that come to assisted reproduction clinics ask about the possibility of choosing the gender of their baby. The answer they receive is always the same: technically it is possible to choose the gender of the embryos that are transferred into the uterus, but Spanish law on assisted reproduction only allows this for strictly medical reasons.

Spanish legislation only allows the selection of male or female embryos when the objective is to prevent a serious illness, for example diseases linked to the sex chromosomes. This selection can only be performed with the approval, on a case-by-case basis, of the National Commission of Assisted Human Reproduction.

Bleeding after transfer means that the treatment has not been successful.

Bleeding after an embryo transfer can cause anxiety and stress for those who are looking forward to having a baby, as it can be confused with the start of the next period.

The reality is that the uterus has a very high blood supply during the first few weeks of pregnancy. When the embryo attaches to the endometrium, which has thickened in order to accommodate the embryo, some of the blood vessels may rupture, resulting in light vaginal bleeding, commonly known as implantation bleeding.

Not all pregnant women have implantation bleeding and, if a woman had implantation bleeding during a previous pregnancy, it does not mean that it will occur again during her next pregnancy.

You can read more about implantation bleeding here

Frozen embryos are less likely to result in pregnancy

When cryopreservation is used, frozen embryos are as successful as fresh embryos in achieving pregnancy after fertility treatment.

For most patients, embryo cryopreservation provides significant peace of mind, as it avoids having to go through an entire assisted reproduction treatment again. However, many couples undergoing treatment have concerns about these cryopreserved embryos.

However, the vitrification technique does not affect the quality of the embryo. To evaluate the main difference between a fresh embryo and a vitrified one, we must take into account criteria such as the viability of the embryo itself and, for this, it is necessary to return to the initial process of embryo selection.

Furthermore, embryos can survive frozen in liquid nitrogen for an indefinite period of time. For more than 20 years, babies have been born from frozen embryos.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you probably find it hard to believe how easy it has been for others.

But the reality is, that every person is unique, every story and every experience, just as every fertility treatment will be unique.

This is why we created this article in celebration of World Infertility Awareness Month, to shatter all those myths about fertility treatments that generate misinformation and break the taboos that exist in society.