By Dr Zeenobiyah McGowan
Family planning has been around in some form or another since the beginning of time. We have been making babies – and sometimes trying not to make babies – for as long as this species has walked the earth. We can only guess that infertility has also been around as long. But as time has progressed, so has our knowledge on the topic. That may be why there are so many misconceptions about conception. Here are five common misconceptions that should be shattered.
1. A man’s fertility never declines
It is possible for a man in his 80s to get a younger woman pregnant, but it is highly unlikely. In the past, we thought that just because some older men do conceive that all older men can conceive. This is simply not true, and that is probably a good thing. A man’s fertility begins to decline in his 40s, so even if he is trying to conceive with a woman in her early 20s (her fertile prime), the couple may have some trouble.
2. Infertility is a woman’s issue
About 40 percent of all fertility issues are due to male-factor infertility. Another 40 percent is due to female fertility issues; ten percent from both partners and the rest are from unexplained causes. Women tend to take infertility to heart more than men because they are the ones who naturally will carry and nurture the baby when it is still a fetus. Women are meant to have more of a connection with the child, at least physically, and this is why they are more likely to feel responsible. Either way, if you are dealing with infertility, it is natural to feel anxiety and depression. Do not be ashamed to seek counseling.
3. Men should hold their sperm until a woman’s fertile period
This is a common misconception that may actually be keeping couples from conceiving. A man’s sperm does not live forever, even in his own body. Experts recommend having sex, or otherwise ejaculating, about every two to three days when trying to conceive to ensure that all sperm are fresh and healthy.
4. Getting your period regularly means that you are fertile
Getting your period regularly is a good sign that you are experiencing regular cycles. However, it is not a surefire indicator of a woman’s fertility. Infertility caused by things like endometriosis and thyroid issues may have other symptoms, but you may also still get your period regularly.
5. Infertility can always be treated
We have come a long way with understanding and treating infertility, but not every case can be treated. Some underlying causes have easy solutions. Others may take more effort, and still some may have no cure. Understand that infertility treatment is a journey that will not always end in your desired result. Sometimes, the cause of infertility results in an obvious case where the couple will not be able to conceive. In most cases, though, the couple must undergo months or even years of treatment before the doctor can determine whether infertility treatments may be successful.
Philip Druce from fertility website OvulationCalendar.com says “Another common misconception is that women ovulate mid cycle, this is only true when the follicular phase and luteal phase are equal lengths. For the same woman the follicular phase can vary from cycle to cycle, where as the luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) remains fairly consistent. Most women ovulate about 15 days before their next period starts.”
Dr Zeenobiyah McGowan Ph.D., an expert on women’s health and helping couples conceive naturally. Dr McGowan is a mother of one beautiful girl. She founded Impact Humanity, a charity which helps under privileged children get the basic necessities like food and education in Kenya