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Myths and Misconceptions about Infertility

January 27, 2007

More and more women today are finding it difficult to concieve and often there is a reluctance to see a specialist soon enough. Also, people tend to surround themselves with old wives tales and myths about the process of birth. Dr. Aniruddha Malpani, Fertility Specialist, spoke to me about some of the myths that surround Fertility.

Painful periods cause infertility
This is not always true. Only if the pain progressively worsens (especially when this is accompanied by pain during sex) can it mean that you have endometriosis, which can cause infertility.
Infrequent periods cause infertility
Some normal women have menstrual cycle lengths of as long as 40 days. Also, some women’s periods can vary from month to month. Of course, since these women have fewer cycles every year, the number of times they are “fertile” in a year is decreased. Also, they need to monitor their fertile period more closely.
Blood group “incompatibility” between husband and wife can cause infertility
There is no relationship between blood groups and fertility.
Infertility is hereditary
Even if your mother, grandmother or sister have had a difficulty in becoming pregnant it does not necessary mean that you will too too. In fact, most infertility problems are not hereditary, and a complete evaluation is needed to determine the cause.
A retroverted (“tipped”) uterus causes infertility
About one in five women have a retroverted uterus and if the uterus is freely mobile, this is normal and does not prevent sperms from swimming into the cervix.
If you work hard at it, you’ll get pregnant eventually
In fact, if pregnancy has not occurred after a year or so, it is better to go for a check-up to rule out any medical condition causing infertility,’ says Dr. Malpani.
Virile men are fertile
There is no correlation between male fertility and virility.
Thickness and volume of semen determines infertility
Semen consists mainly of seminal fluid, and its fertility potential depends upon the sperm count.
Daily intercourse alone can achieve pregnancy
Sperm remain active in woman’s cervical mucus for 48-72 hours following sexual intercourse. Thus, having sexual intercourse near the time of ovulation is important, but no single day is critical.
Fertility drugs cause multiple births
While fertility drugs increase the chances of having a multiple pregnancy (they stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs), the majority of women taking them have singleton births.
A man’s sperm count will be the same every day
A man’s sperm count varies from day to day and sperm numbers and motility depends on time between ejaculations, illness, and medication.
Pillows under the hips during and after intercourse enhance fertility.
Sperms, which are already swimming in cervical mucus after sexual intercourse will travel up the cervix to the fallopian tube for the next 48 to 72 hours, whatever the position of the hips.
Azoospermia ( no sperms) is a result of excessive masturbation in childhood
You cannot “run out” of sperms, because these are constantly being produced in the testes. In any case, masturbation is a normal activity which does not affect the sperm count.

(This was published in the Times of India in January 2007)

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