Thousands of people struggling with infertility get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments each year. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fertility treatment, it will likely include taking medication. Fertility medications are a great tool for helping those with infertility grow their family, but unfortunately, myths and misconceptions surrounding fertility medications make some prospective parents reluctant to try it. We want you to feel confident in your treatment plan, so Dr. John Rapisarda is sharing the realities behind five of the most common myths about fertility medication.
Myth #1: Taking fertility medications results in multiple births.
It is true that taking fertility medication along with timed intercourse or insemination (IUI) increases your chances of having multiples. However, your doctor will monitor your cycle closely to reduce the risk of high order multiples and ensure your safety. Your treatment will require regular bloodwork and ultrasounds to gauge how your body is responding to the medication. If it appears that too many eggs are developing, you and your doctor may decide to cancel your cycle to prevent a multiple pregnancy. Of course, if twins are an acceptable option, you and your doctor can discuss if you can safely move forward with your cycle.
Myth #2: Fertility medications cause cancer.
There is no consistent scientific evidence that suggests fertility medications cause cancer. A thorough investigation by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) found that studies linking cancer to fertility medications have methodological limitations and low incidences of the cancers being studied. Additionally, they do not consider personal risk factors that increase an individual’s likelihood of getting cancer. Obesity, for example, increases one’s risk of infertility and cancer. Therefore, a person taking medication during treatment could already be at risk for cancer due to other circumstances. Furthermore, there is evidence that pregnancy actually reduces the risk of certain cancers and so taking medication to achieve pregnancy may actually lower risk in some cases.
Myth #3: Taking IVF medication will result in early menopause.
Fertility medications taken during an IVF cycle will not result in early menopause. In a typical menstrual cycle, you naturally lose about 1,000 eggs, and only one or two of those will mature and are either fertilized or shed during menstruation. The medications used during IVF treatments stimulate the ovaries so that several eggs mature eggs instead of just one or two. While it might seem like you are retrieving a lot of eggs during the IVF cycle, it does not deplete your egg supply because you are not removing any more eggs than your body would lose naturally. Therefore, you will not run out of eggs faster and trigger early menopause if you undergo IVF.
Myth #4: You can’t work and take fertility medication.
In general, there is no medical reason that you cannot work while taking fertility medications. That being said, the physical and emotional side effects of fertility medications and treatment overall can be overwhelming to some patients. Common side effects include bloating, headache, breast tenderness, upset stomach, hot flashes, and mood swings. We recommend taking the time you need for self-care, and if that means taking one (or several) personal days it is completely understandable.
Myth #5: Fertility medications are only for women.
When male factor infertility is caused by low sperm count due to a hormonal imbalance, men may be prescribed fertility medication. You may be surprised to learn that some of the medications used to stimulate ovulation in women are also used to treat low sperm count in men because the hormones that control reproduction are the same in both men and women. Clomiphene citrate, Anastrazole, and Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are the most common medications used to address low sperm count.
More than seven million people struggle with infertility each year. If you are having difficulty conceiving and have questions about treatment, don’t consult Dr. Google as your primary source of information. Schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist who can help you understand your individual circumstances and provide accurate information about the process.
Dr. John Rapisarda has been with FCI for over 20 years. He has been deemed a “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly, U.S. News & World Report and Chicago Magazine for several years. His compassionate, personalized and understanding approach to care has made Dr. Rapisarda an annual recipient of the Patients’ Choice Award since its inception.