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Infertility and menstrual myths and misconceptions

Posted Nov 18 2008 12:14am

Many infertile women obsess over their menstrual periods. They know there is a connection between ovulation, fertility and the menstrual period, but are often very confused as to what this really is.

Making a baby needs only four things - eggs, sperms, a uterus and fallopian tubes. Unfortunately, since they cannot see any of these , they track the only thing they can see - their menstrual flow.

While the regularity of the menstrual cycle is in fact a very good marker for ovulation, the quality of the menstrual blood flow ( duration; the presence of clots; the amount ; or how dark the blood is ) is completely unimportant. After all, the menstrual flow just represents the old uterine lining which is being shed.

However, misconceptions about menstrual flow abound - and because infertile women are often very poorly informed about their bodies, these myths find a fertile ground in their heads.

As it is , infertile women have low self-esteem and an inferiority complex because they cannot conceive. Their bodies have let them down and they feel flawed and defective. Their mind often plays games with them, and these doubts and concerns fester and proliferate. Minor inconsequential problems, which are normal anatomic variants ( and are often seen in fertile women) are perceived as being the cause of infertility ! While fertile women do not worry about variations in their menstrual pattern, infertile women do so all the time ! For example, many women believe that if the flow is scanty, the "bad blood" will accumulate in the body and the
" menstrual toxins " will cause infertility. This is why some women still ask the doctor to perform a D&C ( dilatation and curettage) to "clean the uterus".

Often their only source of information is their fertile friends, and when they compare notes, they often notice differences in their menstrual patterns - differences which are of no importance but which get magnified in their head, until this is all they can think about !

It's surprising how even well-informed women fall prey to some of these myths. For example, I had a doctor who was going through an IVF cycle. She had a lot of cervical mucus because she had grown a large number of follicles and had high estrogen levels. However, she was worried that the "leaking fluid" meant that her eggs had ruptured before we could retrieve them !

It takes a lot of counselling to explain to infertile women that they should stop worrying about their menstrual flow. Unfortunately, once a misconception has taken root, it's extremely hard to get rid of it !

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