Although access to fertility information, family-building support, and third-party reproductive services has improved greatly over the years, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding fertility in general.
To help you better understand the various factors that affect your chances of conceiving, we’ve outlined three common fertility myths that can hurt modern family building.
1. Women can get pregnant at age 40 as easily as they can at age 35—and age doesn’t matter for men.
Many women are now having children later in life, but it’s important to remember that women’s fertility declines with age. Fertility peaks at age 25, then declines. After age 35, it begins to decline sharply.
The rate of decline does differ slightly from woman to woman; but generally, if you’re hoping to grow your family, it’s smart to start thinking about family planning before age 35, and if you’re hoping to have children later in life, it’s recommended that women have them before age 40.
While it’s commonly believed that men can conceive at any age, sperm quality declines after age 40, and testosterone levels begin to drop. After age 40, men run a higher risk of having abnormally shaped sperm, making it harder to fertilize an egg.
2. Weight does not affect fertility.
Being either underweight or overweight can negatively affect your family-building goals. While it’s important to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) throughout your lifetime to ensure longevity and well-being, it’s even more important when you’re hoping to grow your family.
Women with a BMI of more than 30 typically have more trouble getting pregnant and, if they do become pregnant, have a higher risk of birth complications. However, a BMI lower than 18.5 can cause ovulation to cease, which means no eggs are released to be fertilized by sperm.
Obese or overweight men also have a harder time conceiving due to reduced sperm quality. Hormonal changes can also occur in men who are overweight or obese, leading to a reduced sex drive and difficulty maintaining an erection. Likewise, men who are underweight may also have reduced sperm quality.
3. Medications don’t affect fertility.
Some types of medicine—such as certain antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, as well as opiates—can negatively affect women’s hormones and, in turn, women’s fertility. Even some over-the-counter thyroid medications and NSAIDs can make it harder to get pregnant.
For men, replacement testosterone, anabolic steroids, and opiates can all affect hormones, thereby reducing sperm quality.
Whether you’re hoping to grow your family or are already actively trying, be sure to discuss your—and, if applicable, your partner’s—medication use with your doctor.
Want to learn more about the factors that can affect fertility, or ready to schedule an appointment with a specialist? Reach out to the fertility specialists at Fertility Solutions today.