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Expert: Many myths, misconceptions about infertility

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ATLANTA - You've heard the advice: stop worrying about getting pregnant, just relax, be patient, take a vacation. But fertility specialist Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith of Georgia Reproductive Specialists says infertility isn't a waiting game, it's a medical problem.  And, she says, one of the most common myths is that it’s a woman’s problem.

Dr. McCarthy-Keith says, "A lot of times women come in and say, ‘I know it's just me. It's a female issue. I'm sure everything is fine, we'll check me out first. If we don't find anything, then we'll look at my partner.’  But when we look at couples, about 25-30% of the time, we find male factor issues, either by themselves, or in addition to something going on with the woman."

When you're struggling to get pregnant, it's easy to think everyone else is conceiving at the drop of a hat. 
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association says that, too, is a myth. In reality, about 5 million Americans of childbearing age experience infertility.

Other myths? Couples are doing something wrong. Or not having enough sex.

Dr. McCarthy-Keith says having sex every day, or even several times a day, may not help.  She says, “We know that, on average, sperm live about three days. And so it's not necessary to have intercourse every day or several times a day.  If couples have intercourse too frequently, they can even lower the man's store of sperm. So we usually recommend intercourse every other day, is sufficient."

Another myth: couples can't afford help.  McCarthy-Keith explains, “When people start thinking about fertility treatments, their mind automatically goes to the most expensive treatments.  One of the most expensive or invasive treatments we have is IVF.

But, she says, most couples don't need IVF.  Often, they’ll start with a basic workup of both partners.  She says, “A lot of patients, it's just getting a patient tuned up metabolically, working on weight management, screening for Diabetes.  Evaluating the tubes and male factor issues.”

McCarthy-Keith says she wants couples to know they have options, and RESOLVE says about 50% of couples complete a medical evaluation will respond to treatment with a successful pregnancy.  So, she encourages couples to seek out a reproductive specialist.  As for all that advice from friends and coworkers and relatives?  Treat it with a grain of salt.

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