Over the past several years, fertility has become a popular topic in the news and pop culture covering everything from advancing treatment options to celebrities either freezing their eggs or using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive. “This attention has resulted in an overall increase of fertility awareness, but unintentionally, many fertility misconceptions have arisen and what it may mean for women and men trying to conceive,” explains Jason G. Bromer, M.D., of Shady Grove Fertility’s Frederick, MD and Hagerstown, MD offices.
# 1 FERTILITY MISCONCEPTION: I’M GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET PREGNANT AT ANY AGE.
Many celebrities who are in their later reproductive years make it look so easy to get pregnant, and many with twins. Thus, it’s understandable why women may feel like pregnancy will happen the first month they try, no matter how old they may be. The reality is that a woman’s ability to conceive experiences a sharp decline after the age of 35. “This fertility potential is not only impacted by the decrease in available eggs, but also the decline in egg quality,” explains Dr. Bromer. Because age is so important, there are age-based guidelines for when to seek the opinion of a fertility specialist if you’ve been having unprotected intercourse and pregnancy hasn’t occurred: if the woman is under 35 with regular cycles and no pregnancy after 1 year; if the woman is 35 to 39 with regular cycles and no pregnancy after 6 months; or if the woman is 40 or over with regular cycles and no pregnancy after 3 months.
“In addition to age-based guidelines, there are some instances when age doesn’t matter and you should see a specialist immediately,” explains Dr. Bromer. Reasons to not wait include:
- The absence of a menstrual cycle
- If the male is having trouble achieving or maintaining an erection
- Complex medical conditions
- Genetic disorders that may affect the couple’s ability to conceive
- Two or more miscarriages
- History of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs (formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases, STDs)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Family history or previous diagnosis of premature menopause
- Recent diagnosis of cancer or other condition with invasive therapies
# 2 FERTILITY MISCONCEPTION: IVF IS MY ONLY TREATMENT OPTION.
In the media, one of the most commonly discussed fertility options is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, so as a result many patients think that infertility = IVF. The reality is that there are several non-invasive or low-tech treatment options available to help those trying to conceive. Whether it be ovulation induction (medication used to induce the development of an egg), timed intercourse at home, or intrauterine insemination (IUI) in the office, the first line of treatment patients usually start with is a low-tech, basic form of treatment. Nearly 50 percent of the treatment cycles performed at SGF are considered low tech.
# 3 FERTILITY MISCONCEPTION: INFERTILITY IS A FEMALE PROBLEM.
It might be the woman who isn’t getting pregnant, but the cause of infertility doesn’t always lie with her. One common belief among many men and women is that infertility is a female problem. The reality is that 40 to 50 percent of all infertility is attributed to the male. Part of the initial work-up includes a semen analysis where a specially trained andrologist analyzes each semen sample looking at four main indicators of quality.
- Volume – the quality of seminal fluid
- Concentration – the number of sperm
- Motility – the movement of the sperm
- Morphology – the size and shape of the sperm
If male factor infertility is detected, once the severity is determined, then your physician can talk about the treatment options that are likely to provide the greatest chances of success. Treatment options vary between low-tech options like IUI to more advanced treatments like IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). ICSI occurs in the embryology or IVF laboratory and is the process of inserting a single sperm into an egg to help start the process of fertilization.
# 4 FERTILITY MISCONCEPTION: INSURANCE ISN’T GOING TO COVER FERTILITY TREATMENT SO I WON’T BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT.
The cost and insurance coverage for fertility treatment varies based on the type of fertility treatment needed. Shady Grove Fertility accepts over 30 different insurance plans and about 90 percent of patients with insurance will have coverage for their initial consultation. Of those, about 70 percent will also have some level of coverage for testing and treatment, a fact that surprises many.
Does this mean that if you don’t have insurance coverage treatment will be financially out of reach? Not likely. Shady Grove Fertility offers several unique financial programs designed especially for patients who don’t have the needed insurance coverage to make treatment more affordable. Options range from discount programs to 100% refund guarantees. Some of the most popular financial options include:
- Shared Risk 100% Refund Program for IVF and Donor Egg Treatment
- Shared Help Discount Program
- Multi-Cycle Discount Program for IVF Treatment
- Military Discount
- Egg Freezing Monthly Payment Plan, starting at $195 per month
- Fertility Finance
# 5 FERTILITY MISCONCEPTION: I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO NEEDS INFERTILITY TREATMENT TO GET PREGNANT.
Infertility affects approximately one out of every eight couples trying to conceive. Although every day we are breaking down barriers to make fertility less “taboo,” for many it still is. According to the CDC, over 7 million people worldwide are working to overcome infertility – you are not alone.
Excerpt from Rachel’s Story:
“To anyone reading this who is having trouble conceiving, just know that you are not alone. You would be amazed at the number of people who have “come out of the woodwork” since Chris and I started sharing more about our infertility struggles. So many couples do not talk about infertility; it becomes this silent monster that can affect your emotional well-being, your marriage, and your outlook on life. Be upfront with family members and friends who mean well when they ask you a million times about getting pregnant.”
Read our inspiring patient stories that serve as a reminder that you are not alone on this journey.
To learn more about debunking fertility misconceptions or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please contact our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or click here to complete this brief online form.