ARC® Fertility Articles

Facing the Facts Myths versus Truths about Infertility

The inability to give birth to a child when desired is a very personal and stressful life experience. Many myths surround this area of human life and though medical science has brought about a rapidly growing number of interventions and technologies to assist individuals toward pregnancy, much of it is misunderstood. It is helpful to separate some of the common myths from the truths regarding important subjects such as the causes and nature of infertility and the care of infertile couples.


Emotional Support for Infertility and Well-being

Infertility is without a doubt a life altering experience. From your self-esteem, to your plans and dreams for the future, relationships with your friends, family and even your spouse can all be affected. Attention is primarily focused on the physical aspects of infertility, and the emotional aspects often go ignored and untreated. People aren’t aware of how emotionally challenging and overwhelming infertility can be.

As time goes by and your baby plans don’t unfold as expected, even the most harmless questions can seem overwhelming. Suddenly you feel like an A-list celebrity being stalked by the paparazzi, and the only thing everyone wants to know is, “Are you pregnant yet?” Whether you’ve been trying for two months, or two years, give some thought as to how much of your personal life you are comfortable sharing, and with whom.


Diminishing Ovarian Reserve

As more women are delaying childbirth and more baby boomers are reaching midlife, the problem of diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) is increasing. This has several major medical consequences including infertility, decreased bone mass with risk of fracture, abnormal uterine bleeding from lack of regular ovulation, and hot flashes. This article will address ovarian reserve testing and its impact on treating infertility.

How many eggs is a woman born with? A woman is born with her entire life supply of eggs, approximately 1-2 million. At the time of her first menstrual period, the number of eggs has diminished to 300,000-400,000. Each cycle, hundreds of eggs undergo stimulation and usually only one is released during ovulation; the others are reabsorbed and are not functional.


Body Fat, Exercise and Fertility

Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that women athletes who have a low body mass index, (‘BMI’), have a difficult time starting a family. We have found with our patient population that a number of female athletes have a low BMI. This low BMI often translates into fertility problems. In fact studies have shown that approximately12% of infertility cases are due to being underweight or having a low BMI.

Body fat plays a significant role in reproduction. Sex hormones are fat soluble and they are stored in the body’s fat layers. Women that have a low BMI produce a reduced amount of estrogen which can lead to an abnormal menstrual cycle. Amenorrhea, or the lack of a menstrual cycle, is a result of a low BMI.


Aromatase Inhibitor (Letrozole) Shows Promising Results in Fertility Treatment

Ovulatory dysfunction is one of the most common causes of reproductive failure in subfertile and infertile couples. Since the first clinical trial was published in 1961, clomiphene citrate (CC) has been the front-line therapy for ovulation induction. Its use quickly expanded to other empiric indications, such as luteal phase defect and the enhancement of fecundity in unexplained infertility. Failure to respond to CC occurs in up to 20% of cases, which may then require the use of injectable gonadotropins. The drawbacks of this approach are its high cost (both for the medication and the extensive monitoring it requires), risk of the potentially life-threatening ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and, perhaps most importantly, the significant risk of high-order multiple gestations. Clearly, an inexpensive yet equally efficacious oral alternative would be ideal. Recent research has focused on the successful use of aromatase inhibitors, mainly letrozole, for ovulation induction. The medical team at Georgia Reproductive Specialists has begun incorporating letrozole into treatment plans for appropriately selected patients.