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Debunking the Myths and Misinformation About Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is a couple's inability to conceive a child after already having previously conceived a child together.  This can be an extremely stressful situation for a couple, especially given the prevailing myths and misinformation about this condition.  The top nine myths about secondary infertility are debunked below.

  1. If you've been pregnant before, you'll be able to get pregnant again- don't worry! Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. At least one factor has definitely changed since your last pregnancy- your age! Other factors may have changed as well- in you, your partner, or both of you. Some factors you may be aware of, others that you may not.

  2. If you haven't gotten pregnant in a year of "trying" and you've already had a child, you have secondary infertility. Yes and no. You may have secondary infertility if this is the case, but you also may have had bad timing. Discuss this situation with your physician and try one of the techniques to identify your most fertile days.

  3. If you are over 35, you automatically need an infertility work-up right away. Fertility does decrease over time, but if you and your partner are healthy, don't have any of the risks, and if you are still having regular periods, you don't need an infertility evaluation just because you are 35. Discuss any concerns you have with your gynecologist at a preconception visit.

  4. Everyone else seems to get pregnant at the drop of a hat. More than six million women of childbearing age in the United States are experiencing infertility right now and many of them have secondary infertility. It's not something that couples generally talk about, however. Support groups such as RESOLVE or on-line communities focused on infertility can help you feel less isolated and may offer useful information sources for you.

  5. Infertility is a women's problem. This is untrue. It surprises most people to learn that infertility is an equally a female and male problem- and often a combined problem. It is essential that both the man and the woman be evaluated during a thorough infertility evaluation.

  6. It's all stress! Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system. While relaxation techniques may help you and your partner with your overall quality of life, the stress you feel is often the result of infertility, not the cause of it.

  7. If you adopt a baby you'll get pregnant. While there are many anecdotes of this happening, there is no data to support it. For many couples with secondary infertility-as well as for their children-adoption is a terrific option. Many couples with secondary infertility have chosen other options, however, such as exploring medical treatments and interventions (from artificial insemination to in vitro fertilization or surrogacy) or electing not to have other children.

  8. Maybe you two are doing something wrong! Infertility is a medical condition, not a sexual disorder, although certainly sexual disorders can contribute to infertility. In many cases, the issue is one of timing, not technique.

  9. Viagra can help women with infertility conceive. While this is an area that is currently being researched and has gotten some media attention, it's an area that is still experimental. WOMEN: DO NOT SELF MEDICATE WITH VIAGRA IN ORDER TO ENHANCE YOUR FERTILITY! (Or for any other reason). And men should only use Viagra for its approved indication under the supervision of a prescribing physician

Created: 12/12/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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