It’s the end of National Infertility Awareness Week in the US, and we’ve been thinking about all the women in our community who have experienced or are currently experiencing infertility. Infertility is a heavy thing to walk with, and while we know we can’t take that away, we’re here to walk beside you.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, it’s important to know that it is normal for it to take a while to conceive, even without any fertility issues. If you are under the age of 35 it’s recommended that you try to conceive for a full year before consulting your doctor or a fertility specialist (unless you or your partner have pre-existing conditions that might have an impact on fertility or reproductive functioning). If you are over the age of 35, it’s recommended that you try to conceive for a full 6 months. We know that getting negative pregnancy tests can weigh heavy on your heart, and lead to troublesome Google searches. When you start researching infertility and its potential causes, you can be met with a lot of misinformation and fear-generating talk, which leads to increased stress and worry. We’re not here to further that narrative.
So today we want to talk about 5 things you need to know about infertility, by focusing on what it’s not caused by.
5 Things You Need To 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 ovulation and sperm function, making it harder to get pregnant.
However, stress alone 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 any TTC journey, you will get stressed, and that’s OK. We’re here to help you find and practice stress-coping mechanisms that work for you, whether that’s through mindfulness, meditation, journaling, or breathing exercises. We encourage you to check out the app if you haven’t already.
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’. 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.
We also want to mention the ‘3-month waiting window’ for conceiving after coming off the pill. 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. If you’ve recently come off the pill and haven’t gotten pregnant right away, remember that your body needs and deserves that time to regulate. 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. 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 OB/GYN or your GP at a pre-conception checkup.
4. 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 12% of women of reproductive age experience infertility in the US. That’s at least 1 in every 10 people. Estimates suggest that as many as 15% of all couples will struggle to conceive. 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.
5. Infertility is not your fault
Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization as a disease of the reproductive system. It is a biological condition and not something you brought onto yourself. 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 hard to diagnose and due to genetics or other factors we can’t control or prevent.
Just like any health complication you may face, infertility is something you deserve to get help for through your healthcare provider and targeted lifestyle support. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help, and please don’t be afraid to share your story. Infertility is not your fault, infertility is not a failure, and infertility does not define you.
If you’re a mother-in-waiting you are just as much a part of the Baby2Body family, and we encourage you to turn to this community if you’re looking for support. For additional information, as well as fantastic resources and personal stories, head on over to National Infertility Awareness Week’s website. If you’d like to share your story with us, please send us a DM @baby2bodyofficial, or email us at email@example.com.