Top Fertility Doctor: Cynthia Murdock, MD on Infertility and Birth Control
Dr. Murdock is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist
at Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT and talks with us about infertility and birth control.
Recently I was reading an article about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. The pill has represented freedom for women, freedom to choose when to have children and how many, freedom to control their lives and have careers that they might not have been able to prior to the advent of the pill. Recently, however, the pill seems to have gotten a bad rap. Now it seems that the pill is also to blame for the so-called “epidemic of infertility”. Boldly stated in the center of the article was the following statement “The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry.”
Birth Control and Infertility
Let’s take a look at the facts. When we look at the causes of infertility they fall into 4 categories.
- Thirty-five percent of cases are due to anatomic problems; this category would include blocked fallopian tubes, scarring in the pelvis, and problems with the uterus.
- Twenty percent of cases are due to anovulation.
- Thirty-five percent of cases are due to the male partner.
- Ten percent areidiopathic, meaning all tests are run and everything is normal. Many cases of age-related infertility fall into this group.
We know that there is an age-related decline in fertility. Using birth-control to delay childbearing increases the average age of women attempting to conceive. Women over 35 should seek an evaluation for infertility after 6 months of attempting to make sure none of the other causes are present. Women who are having difficulty achieving a pregnancy have enough feelings of guilt without being made to feel it is somehow their fault for delaying childbearing and taking the pill. We know that very often the cause is more complex than that.
More women are seeking fertility care, not because they took the pill, but because more and better care is available today, and because infertility does not carry the same stigma that it once did. Thirty years ago if a couple couldn’t conceive there were very few options available to them, and even less support or discussion about it. Today we are able to talk more freely, and able to treat many more complex fertility problems than ever before. Also, referencing the causes above, age related infertility still only accounts for perhaps ten per cent of all infertility. This would hardly constitute an epidemic.
Remember the pill is a medication that most would argue has forever changed women’s lives for the better. Let’s stop the guilt and blame game and wish the pill a happy 50th birthday!