Five misconceptions about getting pregnant

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Getting pregnant is an exciting time for many couples, but for the others, it’s a frustrating struggle.

Deirdre Conway, a gynecologist with the Idaho Fertility Center, says many factors come into play when trying to conceive a child.

Here are five common misconceptions about getting pregnant.

Misconception 1: Getting pregnant is easy

Studies show the average chance of conceiving while having unprotected intercourse in fertile couples is one in five.

If you are unsuccessful in conceiving after having unprotected sex for a year, this means you are likely struggling with infertility. Conway said after the first year the chances of conceiving each month goes down an additional 2 percent, meaning that after a year and a half of trying, a couple could have an 8 percent chance of conceiving.

“That is why it’s generally recommended to do some basic screening if you haven’t conceived after the first year, to make sure there is no obvious reason why,” Conway said. “Some fertility problems can be fairly straightforward and inexpensive to treat.”

Misconception 2: Having a miscarriage means you will have problems with future pregnancies or fertility

On average, most pregnancies will have a 20 to 25 percent chance of miscarriage. However, even if a woman suffers a miscarriage, typically that woman will be able to

“In fact, the vast majority of couples that suffer a miscarriage will go on to have one or more healthy pregnancies,” Conway said.

If a woman has lost two or more clinically documented pregnancies on ultrasound, she could be suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss.

The medical staff at Idaho Fertility Center is capable of monitoring a woman with RPL and offers a wide variety of treatment options ranging from taking supplements to in vitro fertilization.

Misconception 3: It is the female partner’s fault

Although many say it is often a problem with the female’s reproductive system if a couple cannot conceive, clinical studies show the causes for infertility are equal between both the male and female partner.

Forty percent of difficulties conceiving relates to male factors such as low sperm count or low sperm quality, Conway says. An additional 40 percent is related to female difficulties, ranging from ovulatory problems or anatomic issues.

The additional 20 percent of infertility is unexplained, meaning that all the testing is normal.

“Women tend to bear the physical and emotional burden of infertility, even with the most supportive spouse,” Conway says. “However, the male partner’s testing is equally important during the workup of infertility.”

Misconception 4: If you’re ovulating, you will get pregnant

There are three factors in trying to conceive: ovulation of healthy eggs, healthy sperm and normal anatomy (including a normal uterus and open fallopian tubes).

This means if you are ovulating, you won’t necessarily get pregnant. Conway says this is why medical screening for fertility is a must as it narrows down why a couple can’t conceive.

Misconception 5: If you’re over 40, you can’t get pregnant

At birth, women carry their life’s supply of eggs, in contrast to men, who produce sperm throughout their lives. This makes sperm fresh and ready to fertilize the eggs in the female’s fallopian tubes.

Since women have just one batch of eggs their entire life, the egg quality diminishes with age. Conway said as woman get older, the eggs get “sticky,” meaning the DNA in the eggs have a higher probability of producing errors.

Because the older eggs have the chance of genetic errors, the body naturally eliminates embryos that would not result in a healthy pregnancy, in turn making it more difficult for a woman over 40 to conceive.

“For many women in their 40s, it may take longer, but the repetition of trying many months in a row will pay off, as many older women can eventually achieve a healthy pregnancy,” Conway said.

Also, egg and embryo donation can help women over 40 — or under — to conceive.

Conceiving is a complex process with many factors. That is why couples who are struggling to conceive are encouraged to visit medical professionals who can often pinpoint and correct the exact cause of infertility.