1 in 6 couples in South Africa struggle with infertility. But it’s not limited to South Africa
Infertility is a universal problem that impacts many people across the world. It is also a growing problem in spite of medical science developing new methods daily for improving treatment.
In spite of its prevalence, myths abound which seem to transgress cultural boundaries, and appear to be universal.
Medfem Fertility Clinic set us straight on some of the most common misconceptions
[bctt tweet=”1 in 6 couples in South Africa struggle with infertility.”]
6 Common Fertility Myths
Infertility is a female problem
It’s easy to assume that infertility is a female issue. However, there is no factual basis to this widely held myth.
In nearly a third of all infertility cases, a male factor is the main cause.
What causes male infertility?
The most common causes are damage to the testicles from infections like mumps; genetic problems; failure of the testicles to properly descend; damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation; or the loss of a testicle due to torsion or trauma.
Further possible complications include the tube from the testicles carrying the sperm, being blocked due to a sexually transmitted group of infections, and in some instances, men are actually born without the vas deferens tube.
[bctt tweet=”In nearly a third of all infertility cases, a male factor is the main cause. “]
Birth control damages fertility
After discontinuing most forms of reversible birth control, your fertility should return quite quickly to what it was destined to be. In fact, some women manage to conceive within a couple of weeks after stopping contraceptives such as the birth control pill.
It should be noted that your level of fertility still depends on many things that have nothing to do with your contraceptives, such as your age, weight and health and lifestyle.
What happens to your cycle after you stop using contraception?
Birth Control Pills
The birth control pill prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, without which you cannot get pregnant. You should ideally complete the cycle so you don’t have irregular bleeding. Ovulation should begin within weeks, but for some it may take several months. The first sign that your ovulation has returned is usually the reappearance of your regular menstrual cycle, a couple of weeks after ovulation.
No matter how long you have been taking the pill, the answers remain the same. If your menstrual cycle has not returned by three months or more, after you stop the pill, you should see a specialist to discuss what to do next.
This contraceptive is injected into a woman once every three months to prevent ovulation. Depo-Provera can linger in your body for longer than the stated three months as it is deposited into the muscle. It may need a little extra time to work its way out.
While pregnancy can occur three months after the last shot, it can take as long as six to nine months for others. Depo-Provera is not a perfect contraceptive for women who are considering getting pregnant soon after discontinuing contraception.
IUD (Intrauterine Device)
When the IUD is removed your return to fertility should be fairly rapid. Within a cycle or so your uterus should recover completely. Removing an IUD is usually a quick and painless process at your doctor’s office.
Women are fertile until their mid-40’s
Both true and untrue
Fertility peaks in most women in their 20s, and gradually begins to decline in the late 20s. At around age 35, fertility starts to decline at a much more rapid pace. As you age and come closer to menopause, your ovaries respond less well to the hormones that are responsible for helping the eggs ovulate. Research has found that in any given month your chances of getting pregnant at:
- Age 20 – 35 is about 25%
- Age 35 – 39 is about 18%
- Age 40 is about 5%
[bctt tweet=”Your chances of getting pregnant decrease from 25% in your 20s to 5% in your 40s”]
Men can have children no matter what age they are
Even though Charlie Chaplin fathered a child in his seventies, and we see many older men fathering children, men also have a biological clock. Not only does the genetic DNA start showing more problems such as in birth defects, but the longer a person lives, the more one is exposed to the environment and lifestyle factors.
Recent research is showing strong evidence for lifestyle factors contributing to male factor infertility such as smoking, obesity and stress. However, the good news is that these can be managed.
5 Lifestyle does not impact fertility
The number of couples experiencing fertility problems is increasing exponentially. The reason for this increase in fertility problems is directly related to certain lifestyle changes that have taken place in the last 30 years. These lifestyle issues include an increased incidence of time urgency perfectionism (TUP) stress, poor dietary habits and poor nutrition. Smoking and excessive alcohol have also been shown to reduce infertility.
Getting these lifestyle basics right, will not only improve your fertility health but also your general health.
[bctt tweet=”Lifestyle changes in the last 30 years have caused fertility problems to increase exponentially”]
Relax and you will fall pregnant
When you tell someone to relax, it is impossible to obey. The relationship between stress and fertility exists, but it is not as simple or as direct as that. Infertility is a disease, and has a physical component as well as an emotional component.
To tell someone to relax, will simply stress them more and be counterproductive. Support and empathy help; as well as forward planning with some hope.
There is help and courses are available; as well as therapists who specialise in the management of infertility.
This article was written with the assistance and input of Medfem Fertility Clinic.
Medfem Fertility Clinic is a Johannesburg based medical practice dedicated to helping people build families since 1980. Medfem specialists are accredited reproductive medicine specialists and have over 100 years of collective experience and are responsible for some of South Africa’s first IVF babies. To date they have played a role in bringing more than 17,000 babies into the world.
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