If my mom or dad had infertility issues, will I?

The link between family history and fertility

family history blog photoMany patients are curious about whether fertility issues their parents might have struggled with may have a role in their own ability to get pregnant. My answer is always the same: your parents’ issues will not necessarily become yours.

In general, the more you know about your family’s health history, the more your medical team can start using those facts in evaluating your overall health and fertility picture.

There are many possible causes for decreased fertility, including endometriosis, fibroids, premature menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, low sperm count, underlying conditions, and physical issues.  Some of these – hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome in particular – do tend to run in families.

Still, patterns of fertility in your family may not predict how easily you will conceive.

We know, for example, that fertility decreases with age. In general, older women have a lower chance of getting pregnant. By the time women are 30 years old, a quarter of them will have issues with fertility. If your mom or sister was trying to conceive around age 40 or later, that could have been the source of her difficulties.

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Talking helps

Infertility may feel isolating, but you aren’t alone

fertility support groupThere isn’t a guidebook that can walk you through the process of coping with infertility.  It is stressful, and often women can add to that stress with blame, self-doubt, and guilt.

As the social worker for the University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine, I provide support to women and couples going through fertility challenges.

It is okay to feel what you’re feeling. You might feel anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration or guilt.

Take care of yourself. If your best friend or sister was going through what you are experiencing, how would you treat her? Would you remind her not to be so hard on herself and to put herself first? Are you doing that for yourself?

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Fertility Mythbuster: Could you be having sex too often?

By Senait Fisseha, MD

You’ve probably read or heard it before: having sex too often will reduce the potency of semen.

This concept of “saving” sperm in order to help increase chances of conception is understandably logical, but really quite scientifically flawed. Continue reading