6 Unexpected Things No One Ever Told You About Fertility

by Margaux MacColl
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Fertility is super complicated. There are genetic factors, environmental factors, and a million misconceptions about fertility to be aware of. Despite there being so much information out there, experts say there is still a lot that the average person does not know. Dr. Erin Burke, PhD, Modern Fertility's head of clinical research, tells Bustle that she wishes there were less stigma and myths surrounding fertility so that women could make healthy and informed decisions. For example, she says women should know that having regular periods is not always a perfect measure of fertility.

“If your body is sensing that it is not a good time to reproduce, what will happen is that your ovarian system will kind of start to shut down,” Dr. Burke says. “A lot of times that's not noticed because you're not skipping your period, but you actually might go several cycles without ovulating.”

So while having a regular period can be one indicator of reproductive health, it should not be seen as a guarantee of good fertility. If you are hoping to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about any concerns you might have.

Fertility is a topic that is constantly discussed, yet often not discussed accurately or thoroughly. From birth control to men’s fertility, there's a lot that experts and doctors want to clarify. Here are seven things missing from the conversation, according to experts.


Women Are Born With All Their Eggs


The amount of eggs you have is determined before you’re even born. Dr. Nicole Noyes, Northwell Health’s chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, tells Bustle that a woman’s eggs are made about halfway through her mother's pregnancy, and there’s no way to get more throughout a person’s life.


Men’s Fertility Also Decreases With Age

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There’s a lot of talk about women’s fertility, but many people don’t know that men’s fertility decreases with age as well.

“It's not as steep and it's not as early as women do,” Dr. Burke says. “But they do have difficulties as they get older.”

Around their late 40s, Dr. Burke says that men’s sperm count decreases, as well as their ability to reach and fertilize a woman’s egg.


The Shape of Sperm Can Change with Age

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A big factor in men’s fertility decreasing is that the shape of their sperm actually changes with age. Dr. Burke says that a man’s sperm “actually also gets a little bit wonky as they get older,” and can decrease the efficiency of the sperm.


Women Can Test How Fertile They Are


Your doctor can administer at follicle-stimulating hormone test and an anti-Mullerian hormone test. According to Dr. Noyes, these tests “give the doctor pretty good idea of how your ovaries are doing relative to age.”

Although you can buy home fertility tests, doctor-administered tests tend to be more comprehensive and accurate.


A Big Factor In Fertility Is Genetics


There is a genetic element to fertility, and some people can be naturally more or less fertile.

She says that some people can come from more fertile families, and that there's a significant genetic component to how quickly someone can get pregnant.

Genetics is one of the many factors that determine someone’s fertility, and everyone’s body is different. Because of these, it’s important not to compare yourself to others.


The Birth Control Pill Has Essentially No Impact on Fertility

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Some people believe that, by being on the pill, they’re “saving” their eggs. Dr. Noyes says that this is a dangerous misconception, and that you lose eggs at the same rate on the pill as you would off of the pill.

“It protects you against ovarian cancer, but from a fertility standpoint, it doesn't protect you,” Dr. Noyes says.

On the flip side, some people believe that birth control decreases fertility. Dr. Noyes says people usually think this because it takes some women awhile to get their periods back after come off of the pill. However, she says this is perfectly normal and “doesn’t make you less fertile.”

Basically, you can take the birth control pill without worrying about its impact on your fertility.

Fertility is a hot topic that is often so entangled with myth and stigma, it can be hard to discern the truth. By listening to doctors and experts, you can be more knowledgeable about your own fertility and help dispel dangerous misinformation.