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Five Ways Female Fertility and Age Are Misunderstood

Many women grow tired of getting a side elbow or wink from friends and relatives urging them to “get on with pregnancy.” Though women may feel less pressure to follow a rigid path to marriage and childbirth now than in bygone eras, the misconceptions society holds regarding a woman’s age and her fertility are still lurking. We hope you’ll remember these five myths — and mythbusters — the next time a friend or relative leans over and whispers, “Tick tock.”

Myth: Age affects only women’s fertility.

Fact: Roughly one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive challenges, another third by female challenges and the final third by a combination of the two or unknown causes. As men age, sperm concentration, motility and volume all decrease, making conception more difficult. In other words, male age impacts fertility too.

Myth: All young women are able to conceive, easily and right away.

Fact: Only as many as 37% of healthy women under 30 get pregnant in less than three months of trying. While aging does reduce fertility over time, conception is not guaranteed at any age.

Myth: If you’re infertile, you’ll have to have in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive.

Fact: IVF is a common solution for women over 35 who are trying to conceive. However, it is not the only option. Fertility medication and supplements can sometimes stimulate fertility without major medical intervention. Artificial insemination works for others by simply increasing sperm motility during ovulation.

Myth: A woman who stops taking birth control pills will have to wait a long time before trying to conceive.

Fact: You do not need to wait to try and get pregnant after stopping birth control. Some women will immediately resume ovulation after stopping the pill, while others won’t. Studies have shown there is no increased risk to your fetus if conceived during or immediately after stopping birth control, and thus no reason to delay your chances of conception.

Myth: Women over 35 are likely infertile.

Fact: There is no definitive cutoff for fertility by age. Because your body is unique, you will likely continue to ovulate and menstruate until menopause on a schedule all your own. Ergo, the only definitive cutoff for female fertility is menopause (average age in the United States: 51). In women, egg quality and quantity diminish as you age. Coupled with decreases in sperm quality and quantity, older couples do have smaller odds of conception than do younger ones.

However, while age is a factor in fertility, it is not the only one. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year (six months if you’re over 35), it’s a good idea to consult a fertility specialist. The most important aspect of your fertility is what is actually going on, rather than what others suspect or believe.

Related Topics: Fertility, Egg quality, Female infertility, Male infertility, Infertility