7 Myths about Infertility

Infertility is caused by stress.

Infertility is a medical condition. Lowering stress is always a good idea, but lowering stress won’t heal your infertility any more than it will heal diabetes or a broken arm. You would never tell someone with arthritis to “just relax” to be healed. Though ineffective and nonsensical, this advice is very common with infertility. Relaxing won’t increase sperm count or motility. Relaxing won’t improve egg health or tube function.

You don’t need to worry about your reproductive health until you are older or ready to start a family.

Reproductive health is an aspect of your overall health. Disease in these organs can affect your day-to-day life. Yet, it can often be ignored or overlooked until a man or woman is ready to start a family.

An accurate assessment of your reproductive health can bring many benefits that are unrelated to family planning. My quality of life would have improved had I sought the aid of reproductive professionals early into maturation. For example, I would have known the source of chronic pain and a weakened immune system. I might have made different lifestyle choices such as changing my diet, taking different medications, and increasing or lowering my physical activity.

In addition, fertility issues can take time to resolve. Knowing about infertility early on allows individuals time to prepare and plan. One person might save money for needed treatments. Another might formulate a more realistic family planning timeline. In some cases, early intervention may even lessen the severity of a fertility condition.

Infertility and its effects go away after you become a parent.

Infertility is more than childlessness. Infertility can an affect your life even after you are a parent. You may have limited options for giving your children siblings. You may grieve the difficult road. You may feel the loss of not building your family via a “natural,” unaided, or uncomplicated conception and pregnancy. You may have ongoing stress from infertility related expenses. You might have diseases with ongoing physical and emotional symptoms.

Infertility is a female issue.

It takes two to tango. Perhaps this myth is still making the rounds because women are the ones to actually experience pregnancy. Regardless, a healthy male reproductive system is still half of the equation needed to produce a viable pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic says that male infertility plays a role in up to half of all couples who experience infertility. You can learn more about male factor infertility here.

You’ll get pregnant after you adopt.

To refer back to myth number one, infertility is a medical condition. Adoption is not a medical intervention, and so it has zero impact on reproductive health.

I actually did find out I was pregnant shortly after I was matched to adopt. Stories like mine are very, very rare, but they seem more common because interesting stories are well circulated. People often attribute my long-awaited successful conception to the timing of my adoption. In reality, my pregnancy was the result of a successful surgery, the right fertility drugs, and years of working with multiple medical professionals.

I feel that both events are cheapened when others invent a cause and effect relationship between my adoption experience and my pregnancy. We didn’t adopt to become somehow magically pregnant. We felt that both adoption and fertility treatments were wonderful ways to build our family, so we pursued both options simultaneously. Both experiences were hard fought and heartfelt. 

Infertility is isolating.

Infertility can definitely be isolating. Yet it can also initiate opportunities for connection. The result is often in our actions and our response to the actions of others.

My infertility brought me greater connection in a plethora of ways. Through a common affliction I made friends outside of my religious, political, and socioeconomic circles. I felt validation and empathy through online and in-person support groups. Some of my existing relationships were strengthened when friends and family responded to my pain with offers of aid and comfort. I felt included when neighbors invited me, a childless woman, to socialize while their children played at the park.

Perhaps more importantly, my experience provided me with a greater ability to look outside myself and empathize with others who may have been hurting.

Everyone with infertility has the same experience.

Infertility is defined as being unable to achieve conception after one year of frequent unprotected intercourse. This definition includes a wide range of circumstances and medical conditions. Some couples may become pregnant after 13 months with a relatively small medical intervention. Others have literally zero chance of ever producing biological offspring. Everyone has a different experience. This is wise to remember when relating or listening to stories of your Aunt’s infertile neighbor who tried a certain intervention and became pregnant.

Aside from differences in timelines and diagnoses, there are also large differences in emotional responses to infertility. Even your partner’s reaction may vary greatly from yours. In my opinion, emotional support is just as important as medical support. Infertility can produce many opposing yet appropriate and “normal” emotional responses.