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Fertility: 8 Myths and Truths

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More Fertility Facts

You've heard that...

...stress is the most common reason that women have trouble getting pregnant.

The truth: Stress may play a role, but it's not the most common culprit (ovarian dysfunction, which means you're not ovulating regularly, is). "The data showing that stress affects fertility is very weak," says Dr. Morris. "Part of the problem is that stress is difficult to measure. There are plenty of examples in which women under immense amounts of tension conceive and deliver babies -- in wartime and after 9/11, for example." Not only that, many of the studies that examine stress and a woman's ability to get pregnant look only at patients who are undergoing fertility treatments -- which means they may have other issues affecting their fertility as well.

Here's where the stress-conception link has some validity: Stress can alter hormonal balance, which may stop some women from ovulating. Research done by Sarah Berga, MD, chair of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, showed that in women who were suffering from amenorrhea (not getting your period), ovulation resumed when they underwent cognitive behavioral therapy.

Domar's advice to clients she treats at the Domar Center for Complementary Healthcare at Boston IVF: "Don't put too much pressure on yourself. When you're ready to start trying for a baby, stop using birth control and have sex when you feel like it. Don't start in right away with the ovulation-predictor kits, and don't get regimented about when you do it. This will just cause more stress."

You've heard that...

...if you have regular periods, you should have no problem getting pregnant.

The truth: "Getting your period around the same day every month indicates that you're ovulating regularly, but it doesn't ensure that the eggs are good quality," explains Dr. Morris. Many things factor into fertility, including the health of your reproductive system. "Your fallopian tubes [through which the egg travels to get fertilized] could be blocked, and you'll still get regular monthly periods," says Dr. Leondires. Again, that means not just eating right and exercising but keeping your sexual health in top form. Be sure to visit your ob-gyn yearly for a Pap smear, STD screening, and cervical exam -- all of which screen for irregularities and infections so you can get treated for them before they affect your fertility.

You've heard that...

...having an abortion affects your ability to get pregnant.

The truth: An abortion affects fertility only if you had a complication during or after the procedure. An infection, for example, can leave scar tissue on the uterus that could then interfere with egg implantation, says Dr. Morris.

You've heard that...

...if you've already conceived once and had a healthy baby, getting pregnant again will be a cinch.

The truth: "This is one of the biggest misconceptions my patients have," says Dr. Morris. "You're older the second time, and your reproductive system changes over the years," he says. New research shows that a guy's sperm quality also declines with age: A study of about 2,000 couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) found that pregnancy attempts were 70 percent more likely to fail if the man was 40 or older. So if you do plan on having more children, don't wait too long. If you're approaching age 35 -- or you're older -- consider getting started on baby number two sooner rather than later.

You've heard that...

...having a miscarriage makes it harder to conceive.

The truth: Miscarriage, which occurs in 20 percent of all pregnancies -- doesn't affect a woman's ability to get pregnant, says Henry Lerner, MD, author of Miscarriage: Why It Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks. In fact, experts say that in many cases, you can start trying to conceive again as soon as one month after the miscarriage. If you have three miscarriages in a row, however, it may be a sign of an underlying medical problem and your doctor should do tests to figure out if something's wrong.

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4/18/2014 10:46:54 PM Report Abuse
linamerlin05 wrote:

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4/14/2014 11:37:31 PM Report Abuse
linamerlin05 wrote:

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