Debunking Infertility Myths

Infertility and Insurance Series

This month we are putting together insurance resources, stories and advice for couples facing infertility. In our 4 part series we will be covering personal testimonies from people who have navigated the journey and hope to pass along encouragement to others.  In this post, we'll look at what infertility is, common myths, and resources and ways to get the conversation started with your doctor.

What is infertility?

“I’ve heard if you just _______, you will get pregnant.”

Love, your friend "the expert"

You name that blank, I’ve probably heard it or tried it. People become experts in the field of reproductive health when you start to share that you are having a hard time getting pregnant. Apart from a wealth of brilliant friends showering you with advice, you get further stumped when you search the web for answers. Let’s start with some basic definitions: what is infertility? And what are common misconceptions about fertility?

According to American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG), infertility is a medical condition defined as:

  • Lack of pregnancy after 1 year of unprotected intercourse
  • > 35 years old, lack of pregnancy after 6 months of unprotected intercourse

3 Myths About Infertility:

Myth #1: It’s a woman’s problem.

Hollow was my word for the gnawing feeling that my body couldn't bear a beautiful baby bump. Weighed down by shame and sadness, I felt like it was all my fault that we couldn't conceive. So I was stunned to learn that it’s not always a problem with the female reproductive tract. In fact, 40% of the time it is a problem with the male. The chart below shows an overview of the causes of infertility.

Male&FemaleFert

Myth #2: If you would just relax it would happen. Go take a vacation!

Friends looking into your life see how infertility weighs on you. They really want to help; suggesting a night away to relax seems harmless. But as one friend put so well, what we hear when someone suggests a vacation is: “You are crazy! This baby stuff has gone to your head; you just have to chill out.”

Infertility is a medical condition. It is not just in your head! Nor is it something you can cure by simply relaxing. Infertility does, however cause a lot of stress. It’s important to take care of yourself and have outlets for stress management. Stay tuned to an upcoming article: Beyond the Doctor’s Office: The Importance of Support.

Myth #3: Everyone else gets pregnant so easily.

When you are in the thick of infertility, you are in a life stage full of babies and big bellies. Everyone in your life is getting pregnant! Oh, and it’s not just your friends. Those pregnant bellies follow you; grocery store- they are behind you in the check outline. Mall- where did all these maternity stores come from? Church- who knew it was a breeding ground for babies? I remember thinking: "Am I the only one who struggles to get pregnant?"

But did you know that 1 in 8 couples in the United States has a hard time getting pregnant? Infertility affects millions of people. So when you see a pregnant belly, don't just assume her husband looked at her and she got pregnant. Chances are there is a story behind that pregnancy glow.

Start the Conversation: Resources and Next Steps

I am no fertility expert. But I am a Nurse Practitioner who happened to have a hard time getting pregnant. I learned along the way where to find good information about trying to conceive. I hope to point you in the right direction, but remember your body is unique. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor . . . . and bring your list of questions! I’ve had many an awkward conversation with my OB/GYN; but trust me, she has heard it or seen it ALL before. The sooner you begin the conversation, the better chance you will have in the long run. Start the conversation!

For a list of some reliable places to search for answers, see the links and resources below:

BLUSH: The Bird's and the Bee’s

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

American Society of Reproductive Medicine

RESOLVE: National Infertility Association

Do you or someone you know struggle with infertility? Stay tuned for more articles about infertility and how to fund your journey. Sign up below to stay connected.

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