Common infertility myths part 2



Roughly 12 percent of those in the reproductive-age population are affected by infertility. There are a lot of myths floating around about infertility. Below are some of the most common infertility myths:

Because I have gotten pregnant before, I should have no problems now. Even after a normal delivery, the female reproductive system can be altered. Low level infections can damage the fallopian tubes, scar tissue can form within the uterus or the pelvic area and changes in ovarian or thyroid hormones after a delivery can affect future fertility. The effects of aging, particularly after the age of 35, can significantly delay a women’s chance of achieving another pregnancy.

I feel healthy and have had no medical problems, so I know I can get pregnant. Many changes in our bodies can occur slowly. In particular, diseases effecting the thyroid gland can take months or years before you feel something has changed. We also tend to not see the slow changes that occur in gaining weight, subtle changes in our skin or changes in our energy levels. All these changes can be related to modification in our endocrine (thyroid, adrenal and ovary) systems.

The ovulation kit I am using says I ovulate a few times a month, so we just need to time sex with each ovulation to get pregnant. Ovulation kits measure the brain hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), which is excreted in urine. In a normal ovulation this occurs over a short 24 to 48 hour time period within a menstrual cycle (the time from one menstrual flow to the next). Seeing more than one event, or seeing more than two days in a row of a surge, suggests a dysfunction in the production of LH and might suggest a hormone imbalance such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

I’ve been using a menstrual app for six months and haven’t gotten pregnant. A recent publication in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at the accuracy of websites and apps in predicting the fertile window. Data from 20 websites and 33 apps were collected. Of all the websites and apps used, only one website and three apps predicted the precise fertile window. Since the range of the fertile window varies widely and thus can be inaccurate, you should seek professional help in assessing your ovulations if you haven’t achieved a pregnancy within six months.

I am focused on staying health by eating right and exercising every day, so I won’t have fertility problems. Adjusting diet and exercise activities in moderation are critical in achieving a healthy body and mind. Women with a BMI less than 18.5 experience a decrease in fertility, mainly due to an alteration in the normal brain signaling to the thyroid and ovaries that occurs with a vigorous exercise program. In some women, more than an hour of vigorous exercise a day can lead to a decrease in the production of the hormones that stimulate ovary function. These changes can cause ovaries to become underactive, altering not only the quality of the eggs produced, but can also decrease the growth of the uterine endometrial lining needed to establish a successful pregnancy. Be wary of crash or “one food group” diets. Our bodies function best when we maintain a balance in the ratio of body fat to lean muscle. When lean muscle becomes too heavy compared with fat (excessive exercise/body building) or when fat becomes too heavy compared to muscle mass (overweight/obesity), ovulation will also cease. In addition, obese and underweight women have an increased risk of miscarriage.

To learn more about The Family Fertility Center at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, please click here.

Part one is now available here.