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Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Infertility

Getting or staying pregnant is not easy for everyone -- for some, it can take time and money. While you might not be thinking of having kids right now, having a conversation with a physician about fertility while still in your early 30s could provide benefit later on.
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Even in an era with many scientific and clinical advancements, myths and misconceptions continue to persist about infertility and assisted fertility treatments. In an effort to better educate members of the general public -- especially those who are trying to successfully get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby -- Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ) conducts an annual consumer survey which helps identify these knowledge gaps. The latest edition, Trends in Infertility 2016 Survey and Report, touched on topics directly related to infertility, such as egg freezing, genetic testing, and IVF success rates, and even examined the impact of the Zika virus on couples trying to conceive. Here's what we found:

START THE CONVERSATION TODAY
Getting or staying pregnant is not easy for everyone -- for some, it can take time and money. While you might not be thinking of having kids right now, having a conversation with a physician about fertility while still in your early 30s could provide benefit later on. Unfortunately, our survey reported that many patients wait too long to speak with their OB/GYN or other healthcare providers about their fertility: nearly 75% of respondents say they've never had that conversation. Our survey also found that more than 50% of respondents felt that the "biological clock" stops ticking at age 44 -- nearly 20 years past peak fertility for most, and likely contributing to their unsuccessful attempts to conceive.

DELIVERY RATES VS PREGNANCY RATES
It seems like a simple distinction, but often patients don't understand the nuance between IVF pregnancy rates and delivery rates. Here's the simple way to understand this: Is it your goal to get pregnant or is your goal to deliver a healthy baby? But instead of focusing on success, many respondents told us that physician reputation (52%) and pregnancy rates (35%) were more important that actual delivery rates (22%). Each year, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) publishes data on these success rates - which are required by federal law to be reportable - to help people make their decision on which infertility experts to see.

CAN ONE EQUAL TWO?
More and more fertility centers across the U.S. are suggesting that patients opt for a single embryo transfer instead of a double embryo transfer. In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) revised their guidelines for the number of embryos to be transferred during IVF. These guidelines were in favor of having fertility specialists advise patients to choose single embryo transfer as it is the best option for having a healthy baby.

Still, despite significant scientific evidence as well as cost-benefit analysis, patients still overwhelmingly believe (80%) that in order to maximize the chance for success of having a healthy baby, you must transfer multiple embryos during IVF. Research has shown that the combination of single embryo transfer and comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS) provides uncompromised results, fewer complications to mother and child, and a lower total cost of care.

Nearly seven million men and women face infertility. As millennials continue to delay parenthood -- to pursue careers, education or even just because they aren't ready -- it is imperative that they are armed with the tools and education to make knowledgeable decisions for their family planning. When it comes to understanding and maximizing fertility, the sooner the better.