9 common fertility mistruths debunked by doctors

Struggling to get pregnant? These fertility misconceptions might be standing in the way of your baby-making success.

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When it comes to baby-making, it’s reassuring to know that we live in a time where there’s widespread public awareness of infertility.

With greater understanding, fewer couples trying to conceive are being asked insensitive questions such as if there’s something is wrong with them or are mocked for “doing it wrongly”.

Far as we’ve come as a society, medicine has come even further, giving couples struggling to expand their families, alternative ways to do so, safely.

However, despite fertility advancements, some couples just don’t seem to know how to make a baby. Many are also complacent about their fertility, convinced that as long as they have intercourse, everything will work out swimmingly for them.

Indeed, fertility doctors wish couples would wise up to such misconceptions before coming in for a consultation, since it will definitely speed up their baby-making game.

SmartParents get fertility expert Dr Kelly Loi and ob-gyn Dr Christopher Chong to set the record straight on conception myths. By the way, don’t be embarrassed if you learn something new about your fertility (or lack thereof), after reading this ― you certainly aren’t alone!

MYTH #1 40 is the new 30. More women are having kids at a later age, so it’ll be easy for me to have babies when I’m older.

Dr Loi says… Where fertility is concerned, unfortunately, women are born with a fixed reserve of eggs. The numbers of eggs decreases with age, hence it becomes more difficult to have a baby as women get older. Furthermore, the quality of the eggs also decreases, As a result, the risk of having a miscarriage also rises due to chromosomal and genetic problems.

Dr Chong says… The quality of a woman’s eggs start decreasing from age 25. Average life expectancy has increased to more than 80, so 40 is relatively young compared to more than 50 years ago when life expectancy was 65. However, the quality of the eggs will still be better at age 35 than at 40. The older the mum, the higher the risk of maternal, foetal and chromosomal problems. Your risk of having a Down syndrome baby is 1 in 330 at age 35. However, it rises to 1 in 100 at age 40. Also, after 40, there is a very sharp drop in egg quality and sharp rise in maternal and foetal complications.

Up to 20 per cent of healthy couples do not conceive in the first year of trying. This is due to many factors…”

MYTH #2 As long as we have sex, we will get pregnant.

Dr Loi says… One in seven couples encounter subfertility ― an inability to conceive, despite actively trying and having sex regularly two to three times every week over a year.

Dr Chong says… Up to 20 per cent of healthy couples do not conceive in the first year of trying. This is due to many factors including the quality and quantity of eggs and sperm. It might also have something to do with the environment of the female genital organs, such as blocked fallopian tubes. Often, no reason is found for subfertility.

MYTH #3 Fertility problems are always the woman’s fault.

Dr Loi says… In one third of the cases, it may be due to problems in the woman. However, in another third, it may be due to male factors. In the remaining, it may be a mixture of both.

Dr Chong says… Sub-fertility is one third due to male factors, one third due to female factors and one third due to both.

MYTH #4 Fertility treatments will guarantee a baby.

Dr Loi says… The success rates of fertility treatment vary with age and underlying fertility issues. Although the success rates may be high with current techniques of embryo culture, freezing and thawing, there is no guarantee. The success rates are generally best in younger women with good quality eggs. Hence, it is best to seek fertility treatment earlier.

Dr Chong says… Even in the best fertility or IVF centres, the success rate is usually quoted as less than 50 per cent and often only up to 44 per cent after three cycles.