Popular fer­til­ity myths

Lesotho Times - - Health -

GENEVA — Eat­ing food con­tam­i­nated with bugs leads to more than half a bil­lion cases of ill­ness a year, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion warns.

It says this “global threat” con­trib­uted to 351 000 deaths in 2010.

Un­safe foods, for ex­am­ple un­der­cooked meat, can cause 200 prob­lems - from di­ar­rhoea to can­cer.

But changes in food pro­duc­tion mean there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties for meals to har­bour harm­ful bugs or chem­i­cals, ex­perts say.

Culi­nary cau­tion MANY cou­ples spend years try­ing not to get preg­nant, so it’s only un­der­stand­able that they may have a few is­sues when it comes to try­ing to have a child.

Just like when you be­come a par­ent, there is no writ­ten man­ual on how to get preg­nant.

For one in six cou­ples, in­fer­til­ity is­sues are an ob­sta­cle to par­ent­hood. In­fer­til­ity does not dis­crim­i­nate. We see pa­tients of all ages, eth­nic­i­ties and back­grounds. They are smart, hard-work­ing and determined to have a fam­ily.

How­ever, many do not un­der­stand their per­sonal fer­til­ity and the fac­tors that af­fect fer­til­ity po­ten­tial.

Dur­ing Na­tional In­fer­til­ity Aware­ness Week, we turn our ef­forts to help­ing those who hope for a fam­ily. The more that men and women know about the re­al­i­ties of fer­til­ity, the more ef­fec­tively they can have a baby, of­ten with­out our help.

Th­ese are the most com­mon mis­con­cep­tions we hear dur­ing pa­tient ap­point­ments.

1. ‘He doesn’t have any fer­til­ity prob

lems; he’s al­ready a dad.’ Con­trary to popular be­lief, male fer­til­ity is fi­nite. Sim­i­lar to fe­male fer­til­ity, male fer­til­ity de­creases with age, par­tic­u­larly af­ter age 40.

Re­searchers have found a di­rect link be­tween pa­ter­nal age and an in­creased risk of autism and schizophre­nia. Men pass along as many as four times more ge­netic mu­ta­tions com­pared with moth­ers.

As a man ages, the con­cen­tra­tion of mo­bile, healthy se­men and se­men vol­ume over­all will de­crease.

2. ‘All the women in my fam­ily had more

ba­bies in their 40s, so I am fine.’ Although fam­ily fer­til­ity his­tory is taken into ac­count dur­ing treat­ment, it can nei­ther help nor hin­der fer­til­ity po­ten­tial. Pre­vi­ous suc­cess­ful preg­nan­cies also do not sig­nify a bump-free con­cep­tion route.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tres for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, 11 per­cent of cou­ples ex­pe­ri­ence sec­ondary in­fer­til­ity, which is de­fined as a cou­ple with a child be­ing un­able to con­ceive again af­ter a year. Once a woman hits 40, there is a less than five per­cent chance (PDF) she will get preg­nant in any given month (com­pared with 20 per­cent at age 30).

3. ‘I smoke, but I don’t have to give it up

un­til I’m preg­nant.’

lower fer­til­ity rates in both men and women.

4. ‘We have sex within 24 hours af­ter

ovu­la­tion.’ Af­ter ovu­la­tion has ended, be­com­ing preg­nant is im­pos­si­ble. Ovu­la­tion — when an egg drops from the ovary into the fal­lop­ian tubes — oc­curs once a month, roughly seven to 10 days be­fore a woman’s pe­riod. For preg­nancy to oc­cur, sperm must meet an egg dur­ing this one- to two-day time pe­riod.

To boost your odds, have sex be­fore and dur­ing ovu­la­tion, as sperm can sur­vive in the re­pro­duc­tive tract for three days.

If a woman’s monthly cy­cles are ir­reg­u­lar, visit a spe­cial­ist to dis­cuss ovu­la­tion. Ovu­la­tory dis­or­ders are the most com­mon in­fer­til­ity di­ag­no­sis for women.

5. ‘I don’t have to worry about my eggs

un­til I’m 40.’ At birth, a woman has 7 mil­lion eggs, which slims down to 400,000 at the on­set of pu­berty. Dur­ing a woman’s life­time, ap­prox­i­mately 400 to 500 eggs will be re­leased. As a woman ages, the ovar­ian re­serve de­clines. A woman’s egg sup­ply takes a rapid decline in the late 20s, again in the 30s and then most no­tably af­ter age 35.

6. ‘I do yoga and ex­er­cise. I’m in great shape. Age won’t af­fect my fer­til­ity.’ A healthy body and mind can boost fer­til­ity, but it can­not re­verse the age of ovaries and se­men. For both men and women, age is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of fer­til­ity po­ten­tial.

7. ‘I know we could stand to lose

weight, but ...’ ovu­la­tion and se­men pro­duc­tion. The great news is that cou­ples can team up to lose weight, be­come ac­tive to­gether and boost their fer­til­ity.

Although it is es­ti­mated that 70 per­cent of women with in­fer­til­ity are also obese, los­ing as lit­tle as 5 per­cent to 10 per­cent of body weight can boost fer­til­ity in men and women.

8. ‘Only women need to take sup­ple­ments be­fore a preg

nancy.’ It has long been known that women should take folic acid to pre­vent cer­tain birth de­fects, but folic acid is now known to be an im­por­tant sup­ple­ment in male fer­til­ity. Re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley found that men had a higher rate of chro­mo­so­mal ab­nor­mal­i­ties in their sperm when their diet was low in folic acid. Coen­zyme Q10 has also been found to in­crease sperm count and sperm motil­ity, and vi­ta­min E also im­proves low sperm count.

9. ‘STDS af­fect my health, but they don’t

af­fect try­ing to have a baby.’ For both men and women, sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases can af­fect the abil­ity to have chil­dren.

STDS can cause scar­ring and block­age of the male re­pro­duc­tive struc­tures. If STDS go un­treated in women, they can lead to an episode of pelvic in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease, which is a lead­ing cause of in­fer­til­ity.

10. ‘It doesn’t mat­ter how much cof­fee

I drink.’ Be­lieve it or not, that venti at Star­bucks might be work­ing against you. One study found that “women who con­sumed more than the equiv­a­lent of one cup of cof­fee per day were half as likely to be­come preg­nant, per cy­cle, as women who drank less.”

Caf­feine can de­crease fer­til­ity, so be sure to limit in­take. It’s bet­ter to opt for de­caf­feinated or half-caf­feinated cof­fee, and re­mem­ber there is caf­feine in tea, co­las and choco­late.

11. ‘We have sex ev­ery sin­gle day so we

can get preg­nant faster.’ Hav­ing sex ev­ery day only slightly in­creases preg­nancy when com­pared with hav­ing sex ev­ery other day, ac­cord­ing to a study in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine. If a man has a nor­mal sperm count, sperm con­cen­tra­tion does not de­crease dur­ing daily sex.


Un­safe foods, such as un­der­cooked meat, can cause 200 prob­lems - from di­ar­rhoea to can­cer.

af­ter ovu­la­tion has ended, be­com­ing preg­nant is im­pos­si­ble.

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