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TRUTH OR MYTH: WHAT REALLY AFFECTS FERTILITY?

Fertility 101 Marie Claire article image The Pill — MYTH. It's entirely possible to get pregnant during your first cycle off the Pill, says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine. "There's even some evidence that women who go off the Pill have a slightly higher incidence of twins if they conceive that first month," she says. Post-Pill babies face no extra health risks.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) — TRUTH. Also known as Syndrome O, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility — the syndrome is accompanied by hormonal fluctuations or imbalances that can interfere with ovulation. Symptoms include irregular periods and increased hair growth on the face, stomach, and back, as well as acne and weight gain.

Previous births — MYTH. Having already had a baby doesn't guarantee that you have viable eggs remaining. "About one in 10 women who already has a baby will have difficulty conceiving a second time," says Adamson.

Endometriosis — TRUTH. A condition that occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside of its normal boundaries, endometriosis can lead to infertility if these rogue endometrial cells block the fallopian tubes or prevent normal ovulation or implantation.

Abortion — MYTH. An abortion does not alter your ability to have a healthy child later, unless you experienced complications that scarred the uterus.

Cancer treatment — TRUTH. Depending on dose and duration, some radiation and chemotherapy can lead to infertility.

Diet — MYTH. While a healthy diet is important, no experts — not even Harvard physicians Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willett, coauthors of The Fertility Diet — believe diet alone can make an infertile couple conceive. "There are some people with certain disorders who, no matter how many changes to diet or lifestyle, still won't get pregnant," says Chavarro, who admits that his book's program has never been tested on women already experiencing fertility problems.

WANT A BABY? WE'RE HERE TO HELP...

Once upon a time, procreation required only a man and a woman. Today, an entire industry is standing by to help you create the baby of your dreams.

WHO: Conception coach
CLAIM: This personal adviser promises to develop a game plan for navigating the emotional ups and downs of getting pregnant (conceivecoaching.com).
COST: $125 to $175 per session

WHO: Acupuncturist
CLAIM: A fertility acupuncture regimen focuses on points related to the ovaries and uterus along with those that induce relaxation. About a dozen studies have shown that acupuncture can improve fertility rates in IVF patients.
COST: $75 to $125 per session

WHO: Fertility counselor
CLAIM: Stress is the top reason that couples drop out of fertility treatments. Ease the tension with the help of a specialized therapist.
COST: $100 to $180 per session

Christie Aschwanden is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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