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Infertility Myths & Misconceptions

Infertility Myth #1: Infertility is almost always caused by problems with the female’s reproductive system.

Fact: It’s common for people to think of infertility as a female problem, but only 35% of infertility cases are caused solely by female factors. Another 35% results from factors in the male reproductive system, 20% come from both, and 10% are undetermined.

Infertility Myth #2: Drinking wine is better than hard alcohol, and it does not affect fertility.

Fact: Alcohol can increase the risk of birth defects once a woman becomes pregnant and can cause a collection of birth defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). There is no known “safe” amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, so it is generally recommended that women avoid alcohol in pregnancy.

Infertility Myth #3: Many infertile couples are trying too hard. If they would just relax, they would conceive right away.

Fact: Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. One or both partners may have a correctable medical condition that stands in the way of conception. If there’s no obvious physical explanation for infertility, a doctor can still suggest lifestyle changes that could boost the odds of conception.

Infertility Myth #4: Most couples can conceive any time they want.

Fact: According to Resolve, more than 5 million Americans of childbearing age have fertility problems. Even under the best circumstances, conception is tricky. It’s not unusual for a perfectly healthy, fertile couple to try for several months or more before achieving a pregnancy. However, if you are 35 years or younger and have been trying to conceive for one year or more (or if you are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months or more) consultation with a fertility doctor is recommended.

Infertility Myth #5: Women don’t start to lose their fertility until their late 30s or early 40s.

Fact: According to a report in the journal Human Reproduction, a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 27, although this isn’t clinically significant. Most women of this age can still get pregnant, of course, but it might take a few more months of trying. But by the time a woman reaches 35, her chances of getting pregnant during any particular attempt are about half of what they were between the ages of 19 and 26.

Infertility Myth #6: Boxer shorts and loose pants are best for prospective fathers.

Fact: Researchers at the University of New York at Stony Brook put this piece of conventional wisdom to the test and concluded that underwear style is unlikely to significantly affect a man’s fertility.

Infertility Myth #7: Little can be done to improve a man’s sperm count.

Fact: Many men who produce little or no sperm have treatable conditions that can be addressed with fertility treatments or the help of a Urologist. Lifestyle changes—such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and staying out of hot tubs—may also help.

Infertility Myth #8: A man’s fertility doesn’t change with age.

Fact: While some men can father children into their 50’s or 60’s, male fertility isn’t age-proof. Men see a decline in fertility in their 40s, and also have been found to be at increased risk of offspring with certain health conditions, like schizophrenia.

Infertility Myth #9: Vasectomy reversals are rarely successful.

Fact: According to a report from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, some patients have a better than 50/50 chance of fathering a child after a vasectomy reversal. The longer a man waits to have a reverse vasectomy, however, the lower the odds.

Infertility Myth #10: Infertility means you can’t have a child.

Fact: Infertility means that you have been unable to have a child naturally after a year of trying (or 6 months if you are over the age of 35). With the proper treatment, the majority of people go on to have children.

Infertility Myth #11: Smoking marijuana does not affect fertility.

Fact: Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can dramatically affect sperm and egg quality, which can have a dramatic impact on fertility.

Infertility Myth #12: Eating habits and weight have no bearing on fertility.

Fact: Poor nutrition can have an impact on fertility. Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 or those who are severely underweight may have difficulties with fertility. Click here to download a BMI reference chart.

Infertility Myth #13: If you have intercourse a few times a month, you will get pregnant.

Fact: In conception, timing is everything. Women are the most fertile in the middle of their menstrual cycle. Experts recommend intercourse every other day in this period to increase the likelihood of natural conception.

Infertility Myth #14: If a couple opts for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), they will have multiple babies.

Fact: IVF has been used successfully for over 25 years. The goal of any skilled IVF program is a healthy, single birth. Our doctors encourage an Elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET) whenever appropriate, and are proud to have one of the highest eSET rates in the country.

Infertility Myths & Misconceptions Infertility Myth #1: Infertility is almost always caused by problems with the female’s reproductive system. Fact: It’s common for people to think of

How Marijuana Can Affect Fertility

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Woman with Cigarette

Although the link between marijuana and fertility is not straightforward—plenty of marijuana smokers get pregnant and get their partners pregnant—some research has demonstrated that marijuana use can negatively impact you, your partner, or the fertility of both of you.

Female Fertility

Research suggests that marijuana can negatively affect female fertility in the following ways:

  • Decreases libido. Even before intercourse takes place, marijuana use may decreases libido. And if you aren’t feeling in the mood, it’s that much more difficult to get started.
  • Increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana use also increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana is known to cross the placenta and may pose a risk to the fetus, although the effects of marijuana exposure in the womb are not as well documented as the effects of alcohol and some other drugs.  

Furthermore, the effects of marijuana on fertility seem to accumulate over time. This means that although teenage girls who smoke marijuana are more likely to get pregnant, by the time a chronic marijuana smoking woman is in her mid-twenties, she may be more likely to experience a delay in getting pregnant.

Male Fertility

Despite the relaxation effects that many people associate with marijuana use, research has shown marijuana has negative effects on the male sexual response.

  • Increases impotence. Cannabis use has been associated with sexual dysfunction, which can also have negative effects on the male ego. If your partner has been impotent, he may be feeling more pressure to have sex to get you pregnant, but be frustrated with his inability to do so. This can lead to misunderstandings between you that make it more difficult to have sex.
  • May lead to premature ejaculation. Marijuana use has been associated with premature ejaculation.
  • May decrease sperm count. A regular smoker of marijuana has a risk of having a lower sperm count.
  • Affects sperm structure and function. Additionally, the sperm produced by marijuana smoking has been associated with abnormal morphology (shape) and motility (its ability to “swim” and fertilize the egg).  

Quit to Prepare for Parenthood

Obviously, if you are both smoking marijuana, you risk increasing the chances of infertility as a couple.

Quitting marijuana can be harder than many long-term marijuana users expect, so you and your partner would be wise to quit as soon as possible, while you still have time to get help before getting pregnant. If either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child may use drugs in the future, and parental drug use is implicated in many difficulties for children and families.

Your family doctor can help you with a referral to a counselor or clinic that can help you both quit. ​Couples counseling, which is offered by many addiction clinics, would be particularly helpful at this time. If you are already engaged in infertility treatment, coming clean about your marijuana could save you a lot of time, money, and heartache, if marijuana is one of the culprits for your difficulties with conception.

Learn about whether marijuana can cause infertility, including a review of research on marijuana's effects on women and men.