Increasing Access to Fertility Treatments and Midwifery The Province is increasing access to fertility treatments to help more people expand their families. In 2015, Ontario plans to contribute to the costs of one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle per patient for all eligible forms of infertility — for example, for cancer patients undergoing treatments that cause infertility, giving them hope of having a family one day. Sharing the cost of IVF will improve affordability and access for an estimated 4,000 more patients while protecting the health and safety of the mothers and their babies. Families or their health plans will continue to pay for associated drugs and ancillary services.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to have children; but ever since I was 22, when I began to hear some of the most prominent myths about what causes infertility, I’ve been worried that I would never be able to have them. Though many of us think we have all the facts about sex and reproduction, we’ve all be exposed to a shocking amount of rumors and bad information about infertility, and eventually, it can begin to invade even the most reasonable person’s thinking. And this lack of understanding about the basic facts of fertility and infertility can lead to panic.
I’ve witnessed this needless infertility panic among women in their twenties — and simply being exposed to their worries can lead you to begin to fret about your own fertility, too. Am I infertile because my period is irregular? Am I likely to have a have a miscarriagebecause my mom had one? It’s easy to understand the concern: there are so many different factors that go into a successful pregnancy, and so many invisible factors that impact our fertility. It’s tough to put faith in the process when you don’t have a lot of information.
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, Bustle spoke with gynecologist Colleen Krajewski, M.D. MPH, and clinical psychologist Julianne Zweifel in order to bust eight of the most common infertility myths out there, to help you stop panicking — and start making decisions based on the real facts of fertility.
Myth #1: Birth Control Can Make You Temporarily Infertile
The Reality: In fact, women can get pregnant soon after stopping birth control, even within the first month. Though a woman’s body may have changed in the years since she first started birth control, the birth control itself does not affect her fertility.
Myth #2: Irregular Periods Are A Sign Of Fertility Troubles
Myth: Many women think that having an irregular menstrual cycle (shorter than 21 days or longer than 36) means that they will have trouble conceiving.
Reality: Not necessarily. Having an irregular period means a woman will have a harder time predicting ovulation, and sometimes won’t ovulate at all, making conception more difficult during those months. Consistently irregular periods can equal fewer periods per year, which can equal fewer chances to get pregnant per year.
Myth #3: Fertility Isn’t Limited By Age
Myth: Many women are having children later, so that means that I can put off having kids, too.
Reality: It depends. “Understandably, women put off having kids because they want to be responsible,” Julianne Zweifel, a clinical psychologist and clinical adjunct professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health told Bustle. “They want to be prepared, they want to be secure. They put off having kids until they feel they’ve reached a certain level of their career. But the trick is, they keep moving that bar up. What they consider safe enough keeps edging up.”
Myth #4: PCOS And Endometriosis = Infertility
Myth: I have polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis, which means I won’t be able to get pregnant.
Reality: Up to 10 percent of women have components of polycystic ovarian syndrome, and roughly 6 to 10 percent of women have endometriosis, a condition present in half of women with infertility. These conditions do not spell pregnancy doom (just ask Maci Bookout of Teen Mom 2) — but sometimes women grappling with these health issues may require help to conceive.
Krajewski suggests that affected women talk with their doctors early, even if they do not want to conceive right now — this can help them develop a better understanding of how the condition is affecting their reproductive and general health and what can be done to improve it. For example, women with well controlled polycystic ovarian syndrome have a better chance of conceiving. “It’s not too early to see a doctor and start a treatment plan that includes regular exercise,” Krajewski says. “You don’t have to be actively trying to conceive in order to get any chronic medical conditions under control.”
Myth #5: Fertility Troubles Are Hereditary
Reality: Miscarriage is fairly common among all women — various studies cite overall miscarriage rates in the range of 10 to 25 percent. Krajewski does warn that some inherited disorders can cause infertility. However, these are rare since infertility itself makes the disorder difficult to pass on to the next generation. So typically, your mother’s struggles to conceive do not necessarily mean that you will experience similar struggles.
Myth #6: If I Didn’t Get Pregnant From Unsafe Sex Once, I Never Will
Myth: I’ve had unprotected sex in the past and didn’t get pregnant, so I must be infertile.
Reality: A 2012 study of unmarried men and women age 18–29 found that 19 percentbelieved they could not get pregnant. Of those who perceived infertility, 37 percent said the belief stemmed from having had sex without a contraceptive and not becoming pregnant.
Myth #7: Fertility Issues Are A Woman’s Problem
Reality: “Many men have even less understanding of reproductive statistics,” Zweifel says. “They think they have all the time in the world.” In fact, infertility has a nearly equal chance of being a man’s fault as a woman’s. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the male partner, one-third to the female partner and one-third to both the male and female partners.
Myth #8: You Can “Just Tell” If You Are Infertile
For those experiencing infertility, a disease of the reproductive system, hearing “You are not alone” can make all the difference. Infertility impacts one in eight couples of reproductive age and can be incredibly isolating to face. This week, RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association is participating in National Infertility Awareness Weekby talking to advocates of infertility awareness.
As National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close, I wanted to hear from a voice that often isn’t as prominent during the family building journey — the male perspective of infertility. Denny Ceizyk and his wife Lisa struggled for six years with infertility, and it was a personal blow to Denny when he found out he had “the sperm count of someone exposed to high doses of nuclear radiation.” Over the course of their infertility journey, the couple spent $70,000, visited four fertility doctors, 11 embryo transfers, four IVFs and had three miscarriages. After a grueling and emotional journey, Denny and Lisa welcomed a daughter, Elliana Faith.
Since then, Denny has been extremely active in the infertility community. In 2010, Denny created a blog, Almost a Father, to share his story and raise awareness of the disease. Almost a Father was a nominee for best blog during the National Infertility Awareness Week’s 2013 Bloggers Unite Campaign. He has also emceed for several of RESOLVE’s Arizona Walks of Hope, nationwide community events that support those with infertility. In 2014, Denny received the RESOLVE Hero award for his service to the infertility community.
Barbara: You decided to go public about your infertility – why did you decide to tell your story? Who did you tell?
Denny: My wife and I first sought out an infertility therapist in the early years of our struggle. But I realized that for me, it made me feel better to talk out loud with others experiencing the same struggle. As a result, my wife and I founded the first couple’s infertility support group in the country under the auspices of the Harvard Mind Body Clinic.
I also began writing about the infertility journey specifically from my perspective as a male dealing with the disease. I started my blog, Almost a Father, which has led to writing a book about our story. My wife and I also appeared on several radio programs and the CBS Early Show.
Barbara: How have support groups helped you during your infertility journey?
Denny: Traditionally, it was the man’s role to hand out Kleenex at support groups and be a form of silent support. In the couples support group, we encouraged interaction from both partners, developed an environment of support, and kept spouses from feeling isolated. Now, creating connections with other couples who have gone down the infertility path has normalized the experience.
Barbara: You have emceed at several Arizona Walks of Hope events, which help support those with infertility. Can you tell us about your experience?
Denny: I love hosting the Walks of Hope because it feels like I’m back home. I’m not isolated and I know I’m with like-minded people who understand the disease and the journey.
Barbara: Why is it important for men to be advocates for infertility awareness?
Denny: During the infertility process, men don’t know their role and feel they don’t know how to participate. It’s a very odd and surreal experience. In a way, men have to go through an emotional adjustment. Men are supposed to be strong and silent, when in fact, it’s the opposite. Men need to evolve and find a way to be part of the process. Ultimately, it will strengthen their experience with their spouse.
Learning about infertility, including the many acronyms, statistics and terms, helps develop a new sense of intimacy with your partner. As men, educate yourself and find roles you can take on. For example, I was the designated time keeper at family-oriented events. When the conversation turned to the new baby in the room, my wife and I would excuse ourselves. These are just a few ways to help men not feel alone.