Monday, August 3, 2009

Misconceptions about Infertility (no pun intended)

Please let my lawyer-self come out for a moment and make this disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any sort of medical professional. The information I share in this blog is from my reading, experience, and layperson opinion. I will try to cite reputable sources as often as possible.

I want to tell you about our new plan/protocol that is now underway, but before I do that there are a few more general issues I’d like to opine about. In particular, I want to dispel some of the more common misconceptions about infertility. One of the reasons I think this is important to do is because I know I may have some friends and family members reading this who are unfamiliar with infertility.

Infertility is not rare. In the United States, ten to 15 percent of couples are infertile. (Mayo Clinic, at According to the Mayo Clinic, infertility is the inability to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected intercourse for at least a year. (Ibid.) Several papers I have read from various clinics and sources define infertility more specifically as the inability to get pregnant despite having regular, unprotected intercourse for at least a year under the age of 35, or for at least six months if 35 or older. If the man or woman is diagnosed with a fertility-impairing condition prior to that time, they also may be considered infertile. I have noted that the population usually tested consists of married couples in which the woman is of “child-bearing age”, or 15-44 years of age.

In my experience, people often blow off infertility as insignificant, something that only rarely happens, and not to them. But if ten to 15 percent of couples are infertile, that means that more than 1 in 10 of the couples you know have, are, or will be struggling to bear a child. Infertility has been a taboo subject for far too long, leaving these people feeling isolated, unsupported, and misjudged.

Another broadly misunderstood aspect of infertility is that “it’s a woman’s problem.” In this day and age, I haven’t heard anyone actually use this phrase, but it is inherent in the assumption that people make that if a couple is infertile, there is something wrong with the woman.

Numbers vary on the exact percentages of the frequency that infertility is caused by a woman’s problem, a man’s problem, both, or is unexplained. Personally, I believe part of this problem in getting an accurate representation is simply that, if a couple is having trouble getting pregnant, the woman is far more likely to go see the doctor about it and get tested. Also, many symptoms or signs of infertility in women are more easily noticeable than in men. The National Women’s Health Information Center stated: “About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women’s problems. Another one third of fertility problems are due to the man. The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.” (

The third misconception I want to mention here about MFI (male factor infertility), is that a man’s fertility depends simply on his sexual performance, such that, if he has a fertility problem, he must not be a great performer in bed. On the contrary, all the stories I know about MFI entail men between the ages of 24 and 50, who have low sperm counts, morphology or motility, and are stallions in bed! (Their wives or partners have provided me with this data.) This includes my own husband. Enough said about that.

Watch for my next entry, which I plan on being about our new protocol.


  1. You had me right up till you talked about MFI, male performance in bed, stallions, and your husband, all in the same paragraph. Now I'm all embarrassed. Sheesh. :)

    Your title reminds me of a book by Naomi Wolf, called "Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the way to Motherhood." Good read. I liked it because she discussed how society views pregnancy, motherhood, etc. I have it if you want to borrow it.

  2. lol, Jen! I expected it would have some readers blushing, but hopefully understanding and chuckling a little, too. I tend to cope with things by finding them humorous. I would love to borrow the book!

  3. Well put, all of it! Thanks so much for starting a blog like this. Lets just get it all out in the open so nobody has to be afraid to speak up and everyone will know what stallions our husbands really are!! :D