The Biggest IVF Myths, Busted!
January 17, 2019
By Katie Hintz-Zambrano
Even though IVF—the practice of combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory and then transferring the embryo into a woman’s uterus—is becoming more and more common, there are still many misconceptions about in vitro fertilization. In order to set the record straight—for folks who are going through infertility and/or IVF, thinking about getting pregnant, thinking about going through IVF, or have a friend in the aforementioned categories (i.e. most likely all of us!)—we’ve tapped Dr. William Schoolcraft, the founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).
As an industry leading pioneer in fertility research and scientific advancement, CCRM offers access to a national network of award-winning physicians, a plethora of fertility services, innovative technology, and cutting-edge labs, spread out amongst its 11 locations in the U.S. and Canada (including New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Northern Virginia, Minneapolis, Orange County, and Toronto). Unlike many other fertility clinics that outsource their specialists and testing needs, CCRM leverages its own data, as well as a dedicated team of in-house reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists, and geneticists in order to deliver consistent, successful results that set the gold standard in fertility care and treatment. In fact, CCRM delivers some of the highest IVF success rates in the industry (taking its average patient 1.2 IVF cycles to get pregnant versus the national average at 1.6 (national average based on 2016 SART data).
As Medical Director of CCRM, Dr. Schoolcraft has helped families conceive over 22,000 IVF babies since 1987 and has heard just about every IVF myth imaginable along the way. Below, he lists—and busts!—8 of them.
Myth #1: Bed rest can increase your chance of success.
Busted: “There’s no need for bed rest after IVF, despite the long-standing myth that bed rest can help with implantation. It was believed that the activity could cause the embryo to detach from the uterine. Not only is this belief false, but some studies have shown that patients who confined themselves to the bed after an embryo transfer were less likely to become pregnant than women who went on with their normal routine.”
Myth #2: Cough medicine can help you get pregnant.
Busted: “According to the myth, taking guaifenesin (an ingredient in cough medicines that thins mucous secretions), can boost fertility by thinning the cervical mucus which could help sperm more easily reach the egg. There’s no scientific proof that guaifenesin improves your cervical mucus enough to make it easier to get pregnant.”
Myth #3: IVF is the only solution for fertility issues.
Busted: “Fertility treatment should be individualized to a patient’s unique situation. In addition to IVF, other fertility treatments available include cycle tracking, fertility drugs, ovulation induction (OI), intrauterine insemination (IUI), or surgery. Infertility can be scary and complex so it’s important to seek out a clinic that empowers individual patients and couples to make informed decisions that can positively impact their future. Custom-tailored analyses and treatments ensure the best outcome possible.”
Myth #4: IVF is the same thing no matter which clinic you go to.
Busted: “Not all fertility clinics are created equal, so it’s important to do your research to help you make an informed decision. In addition to looking for a clinic with high-qualified fertility doctors, it’s critical to choose a clinic with a superior IVF lab (which is where embryo development takes place). A centralized approach to comprehensive fertility care relies on in-house lab operations, proprietary research, and data. You can check out a clinic’s success rates at Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. We also recommend asking about the training and experience of the embryology team, what their lab protocols are like, and if they do in-house pre-implantation genetic testing.”
Myth #5: Pineapple can improve embryo implantation.
Busted: “Many fertility and IVF myths are food-related. A recent myth that has gained quite a bit of traction in fertility blogs over the years is that eating pineapple can help embryo implantation. Pineapple, particularly the core, contains an enzyme called bromelain. There have been some studies that indicate that bromelain may have anti-inflammatory properties and the theory is that these properties could help with implantation. While pineapple is delicious, there’s no clinical evidence that support any of these claims. But if you enjoy eating pineapples, then keep on eating them! They are actually a great source of vitamin C.”
Myth #6: Infertility isn’t all that common.
Busted: “False! 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. are impacted by infertility and as the third largest global epidemic, infertility is much more common than you think, even if few people are talking about it. A CCRM mission is to shift the cultural narrative around fertility and family planning, because it is critical to understanding and overcoming infertility. If you’re under 35 and have been actively trying to conceive for twelve months, it’s time to make an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you’re over 35, wait only six months before getting help.”
Myth #7: Infertility is a female problem.
Busted: “It’s a common misconception that women are most effected by infertility. In fact, men and women are equally affected. In heterosexual couples, 40% of infertility cases are attributed to men, 40% to women, and 20% are unknown.”
Myth #8: IVF is only used for individuals/couples struggling with infertility.
Busted: “Families with a history of genetic disorders can do IVF with pre-implantation genetic testing to screen their embryos for single gene disorders and to prevent the genetic condition from being passed onto their children. Also, IVF is used by single parents by choice and for LGBTQ couples to build their families.”
With so many myths floating around out there, it’s important for those wondering about IVF options to feel empowered to ask for support and seek out a clinic that is committed to the advancement of research and development. This starts with finding a clinic that works directly with each patient on industry-leading and customized treatments that offer the fastest path to the healthiest baby.