By Dr Meenakshi Dua
There are several myths related to fertility, such as that a man’s fertility doesn’t change with age! Read on to discover more fertility myths. Infertility is rising with more and more young couples delaying their first child. Priorities have changed, and women are getting married late for education and career. Statistics reveal that since the 1990s, the average age of women having children after 30 years of age has been rising as compared to women younger than 20 years of age.
However, there are various myths associated with infertility.
MYTH: Infertility is a women’s problem.
It is imperative that each infertility case should be considered as a couple’s problem. Only 35 per cent of infertility cases are caused solely by female factors. Another 35 per cent result from factors in the male reproductive system, Nearly 20 per cent come from both, and 10 per cent is undetermined. A simple test like a semen analysis can help in identifying the problem. Science has really advanced a lot in this field. Many advanced techniques like IVF/ICSI/IMSI/PICSI are available to combat infertility.
MYTH: An IVF/test tube baby technique gives guaranteed results.
In the RMANJ survey, roughly two-thirds of millennials surveyed said they thought that they didn’t have to worry about infertility — that they would be able to get pregnant despite the odds. However, there are limitations to treatment. IVF success declines with age and it’s negligible after the age of 42 years. In fact, there is sharp rise in loss of eggs every month after the age of 35. Once a woman is out of eggs, she is out of eggs. The only option she has is to use donor eggs. Most of the couples keep delaying IVF thinking that it’s the last resort. This outlook actually worsens their chance of conceiving. Age is a single most important factor affecting your fertility, even if you are healthy. At 30 years of age, the chance of conceiving each month is about 30 per cent whereas at 40 years, it is around 5 per cent. Also, eggs age with a woman’s age. Aged eggs are at risk of producing abnormal babies. One in 100 live births can have Down Syndrome if the mother is 40 years or above. The risk of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside uterine cavity) also increases with age.
MYTH: Weight problems and eating habits have no effect on fertility.
Poor nutrition can have an impact on fertility. Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30 or those who are severely underweight may have difficulty in conceiving.
MYTH: A man’s fertility doesn’t change with age.
A man’s age matters too! Men see a decline in fertility in their 40s and 50s. This reflects an age-related increase in acquired medical conditions, decreases in semen quality, and increasing rates of DNA fragmentation seen in sperm. In addition, there is an association between age of the male partner and the incidence of birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities and higher psychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia.
MYTH: You don’t have to try too hard. If you just stay relaxed, you can conceive easily.
Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. Medical conditions in one or both partners may stand in the way of conception. If there is no obvious physical explanation for infertility, a doctor can still suggest lifestyle changes that could boost the odds of conception.
We need to understand that these artificial reproductive techniques are here to help you, provided you reach out to a doctor at the right age and the right time. Results steeply decline with advancing age and they should not be chosen as the last resort. At the CK Birla Hospital for Women, we treat all aspects and causes of infertility including recurring miscarriage, ovulation disorders, menstrual disturbances and other reproductive and endocrinal problems.
(The writer is Lead Consultant, Fertility, CK Birla Hospital for Women)