It’s National Infertility Awareness Week in the US right now – but we know that the heartbreak and struggle associated with infertility face moms and hopeful-moms all around the world. We also know that there is a lot of misinformation and fear-generating talk around infertility – and that’s just not helpful in your path towards a healthy pregnancy.
So, in honor of Infertility Awareness Week and in hopes of increasing your awareness on the topic, we’re separating some of the myths from the facts on infertility.
5 Things You Might Not Know About Infertility
1. Being stressed does not make you infertile
We talk a lot about the importance of managing stress in your life to benefit your overall wellbeing. It’s true that unmanaged stress – over time – can take a serious toll on your health, and that can impact your fertility. What chronic stress does is suppress your regular hormone function, which can interfere with regular ovulation, making it harder to get pregnant.
However, stress does not cause infertility, and there’s actually harm in thinking that it does. Why? Worrying about stress and how it might be impacting your chances of conceiving won’t lower your stress – it’s more likely to increase it as you get into the vicious cycle of stressing about stressing.
What’s important to learn is that we can’t eliminate stress from our lives entirely. What we can do is better recognize our stressors, learn to cope with them effectively and address them healthily before they become harmful to our health.
In this TTC journey, you will get stressed, and that’s OK. Take a deep breath, you can do this. We’ll be here with stress-busting hacks when you need them.
2. Taking birth control does not increase your risk of infertility
There is no link between infertility and a history of taking oral contraceptives, aka ‘the pill’. In fact, studies have established that oral contraceptives do not increase or decrease age-appropriate fertility, and time to conception is not impacted by taking the pill.
There’s a lot of talk about the ‘3-month waiting window’ for conceiving after coming off the pill, but what this really indicates is that it may take your body up to 3 months to regulate and get back to your normal hormone function. Which is good to know if you’ve recently gotten off the pill and haven’t gotten pregnant right away!
That said, forgetting the pill for even 12 hours can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. Everyone’s path to pregnancy will vary, but rest assured: taking oral contraceptives alone will not lead to infertility.
For more on various forms of contraceptives – check out this post in the Baby2Body app.
3. If your cycle is not 28 days long, it does not mean you are infertile
It’s all well and good if you have a 28-day cycle, but it’s absolutely normal for you to not have a 28-day cycle. In fact, a normal menstrual cycle is considered to be in the range of 26-31 days.
And even if you fall outside of that range it doesn’t necessarily mean you are infertile or will have a hard time getting pregnant. Irregular periods do mean less regular ovulation – and that can make it harder to pinpoint your peak fertility times. But many women with irregular periods are able to conceive in a ‘normal’ timeframe.
Irregular cycles can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from stress to more significant health issues. Of course, things like medications, depression, or extremely low body fat percentage can lead to irregular periods as well. In order to better understand your health, your cycles, and how that might impact your fertility we definitely recommend talking to your Gynecologist or your GP at a pre-conception checkup.
4. Infertility is not your fault
Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization as a disease of your reproductive system. Something, somewhere along the line went awry in your body. You did not do this to yourself, and it is absolutely not your fault.
The most common causes of female infertility are due to pre-existing medical conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, or other conditions that lead to hormonal imbalances. Such conditions are often due to genetics or other factors we can’t control or prevent – but we can control how we respond to them.
Just like any health complication you may face, it’s something you can address through medical and natural intervention. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
5. If you’re struggling with infertility, you are not alone
Facing infertility can be an indescribably lonely experience. But it can help to know that so many other women and men – mothers and fathers – have been in this same place and have come out on the other side.
Statistics show that about 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age experience infertility in the US. That’s 1 in every 10 people. It’s important to highlight that fertility is not a woman’s health issue alone, either. For couples that struggle to conceive, about a third of cases are due to female infertility, a third are due to male infertility, and the remaining cases are due to male/female combined infertility and unknown factors.
For additional information, as well as fantastic resources and personal stories, head on over to National Infertility Awareness Week’s website.
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