Trying to Get Pregnant? Don't Believe the Myths

Doctor consultation with a female patient

"Pregnancy is something that people assume will happen naturally," says Senait Fisseha, M.D., J.D., Chief of Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, medical director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, director of in vitro fertilization and assistant professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Health System, "And there are so many myths out there, it makes it worse."

MYTH #1 - Infertility is rare.

It can be surprising for women who want to conceive, that getting pregnant isn't always easy. The reality is that infertility is more common than most people realize, impacting one in six couples.

MYTH #2 - Infertility is a female problem.

Another myth is that infertility is a women's issue. Men and women are equally responsible. Infertility is due to men 40% of the time and 40% of the time for women. The U-M Center for Reproductive Medicine, offers a Couples Fertility Clinic where each partner can meet with a health care provider and get time appropriate basic laboratory tests during the same visit. Based on the test results, gynecology and urology health care providers discuss a treatment plan with the couple.

MYTH #3 - Drugs and smoking don't impact fertility.

Results are conflicting about caffeine's impact on fertility. Some studies have suggested that consuming greater than 250-300 milligrams of caffeine (about 3 cups of coffee) per day may delay conception, so women are advised to reduce their caffeine intake while they are trying to get pregnant. Marijuana use has been linked to reduced sperm count causing infertility in men. It is also important for both men and women to quit smoking. Smoking is harmful to womens' ovaries.

MYTH #4 - Your primary care physician can provide all of the information you need to get pregnant.

Fisseha says many women think their primary care physician can provide infertility care. Although basic fertility evaluation can be initiated by a primary care physician, it is best for patients' to be seen by a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist. A fertility specialist can provide patients with all of their options. Fisseha says, "We give our patients evidenced based care in a cost effective and efficient manner."

MYTH #5 - Age doesn't impact fertility.

Age is a major factor in fertility, and many women regret not knowing earlier the ages that their fertility peaks and declines. Fisseha says, "The earlier we see them, the more options they have."

Don't believe the myths. If you are a woman who has been unable to get pregnant after trying for a year, it is time to find out if there is a medical reason. Women with special circumstances (smokers, women over age 35, women with history of chemotherapy), should only try to conceive for six months before seeking help.