Fertility Treatment Myth #1
If I go to see a fertility doctor they will force me to do IVF.
Although IVF has great success rates, it may not be the first-line treatment choice. For couples with unexplained infertility, where the woman is younger than 38 years, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is the most common treatment option.
An IUI cycle is less likely to lead to pregnancy compared to an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle, but young women who fall into the “unexplained infertility” category do conceive with this treatment. The vast majority of young women who will be successful with IUI treatment will do so in the first three cycles. Most fertility doctors therefore recommend three IUI cycles; IVF is recommended if the couple does not become pregnant within those three cycles.
Fertility Treatment Myth #2
All fertility doctors and clinics are the same.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many different fertility clinics and doctors and we are certainly not all the same! I say this from experience as I used to work at a large academic institution with a “factory-like” feel. Now at a smaller, private practice I am able to:
- Personalize my patient’s’ care and provide a customized approach to fertility treatment.
- Do all of my own monitoring and procedures, as opposed to having a “doctor of the day” system.
- Stay in touch with my patients throughout the week and on weekends via email.
Fertility Treatment Myth #3
I cannot afford fertility treatment.
Some insurance policies will cover some/all fertility treatment. For patients whose insurance does not pay for fertility treatment, our clinic participates in the Attain® IVF program in which couples pay a one-time discounted fixed fee for multiple IVF attempts. Patients who meet certain criteria may even be eligible for a refund program if IVF proves unsuccessful for them.
Fertility Treatment Myth #4
Fertility treatment is too much of a time commitment.
The preparation for an IVF cycle can take a couple of weeks for new patients. We try to accommodate each patient’s schedule as much as possible, and keep office visits to a minimum. Once an IVF cycle begins most women use their injections for ~10-11 days with the egg retrieval occurring two days after the last injection.
Patients do need to be monitored during that two week period. The frequency of those visits varies from one clinic to another, but at SIRM-NYC most women have somewhere between four and six monitoring appointments throughout an IVF cycle. These appointments are quick and can be done early in the morning before work. We also do our best to accommodate late morning and early afternoon monitoring appointments so as not to inconvenience the patient’s schedule.
Fertility Treatment Myth #5
If I use fertility treatment I will get pregnant with twins or triplets.
The risk of getting pregnant with multiples (i.e. anything more than one baby in the uterus at a time) increases with any type of fertility treatment, but the risk depends on a woman’s age and can often be controlled.
- IVF: By transferring only one embryo at a time, the risk of twins is < 2%.
- IUI: A fertility doctor can often, based on ultrasound and hormone levels, predict the number of mature eggs likely to be ovulated. That information helps the doctor and patient decide if the risk of multiples seems too great based on their response to the treatment.
Fertility Treatment Myth #6
Fertility treatment poses too much risk to a baby.
The vast majority of babies born via IVF treatment are no different than their naturally conceived friends. Although studies suggest that the risk of having a baby with a physical birth defect is higher after IVF treatment, the absolute risk still remains low.
- In the general population, there is ~3-4% risk of a baby being born with a birth defect.
- When a child is conceived through IVF that risk is ~4-4.5%.
There are also slightly higher risks of preterm delivery and section for women who conceive with IVF. Whether these increased risks are due to IVF or a couple’s underlying infertility is unclear.
Fertility Treatment Myth #7
IVF will guarantee that I have a baby.
Sadly, IVF does not guarantee a baby, but it does significantly increase the chances of conceiving for most couples with infertility. Success rates are most dependent on a woman’s age. For women < 35, pregnancy rates from a single IVF cycle can be as high as 50-60%. Please keep in mind that odds of conceiving in any given menstrual cycle is ~25% and for couples diagnosed with infertility it drops to ~5%.
Fertility Treatment Myth #8
I am too young to consider fertility treatment.
The younger a woman is, the better her odds of conceiving with fertility treatment. At any age, if a woman has tried for at least one year to conceive without success, fertility treatment will increase her odds of achieving a pregnancy.
In addition, young women who are not yet interested in starting a family, should consider egg freezing as a means of fertility preservation.
Fertility Treatment Myth #9
I am too old to consider fertility treatment.
There are a variety of fertility treatment options, and as long as a woman is a suitable candidate for a healthy pregnancy, there are options to help her conceive.
Fertility Treatment Myth #10
I am not interested in getting pregnant – there is no reason for me to meet with a fertility doctor.
Young women, as well as those between 35 and 40, who are not yet ready to become pregnant should strongly consider egg freezing as a means of preserving their fertility. It is like taking out an insurance policy on your fertility – you may never need to use the eggs you freeze, but preserving them is the only way to “stop the clock.”
Women can also consider meeting with a fertility doctor for a fertility assessment as they begin to try and conceive. Fertility doctors can be helpful in teaching couples how to properly attempt conception and can also do an initial assessment of a woman’s ovarian reserve to help them better understand their situation.
Fertility Treatment Myth #11
I do not have trouble conceiving, a fertility doctor cannot help me.
Fertility doctors also specialize in helping women with recurrent miscarriages, and with recurrent implantation failure after prior IVF attempts.