According to the American Pregnancy Association, Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that prevents the conception of children. It affects approximately 10-15% of couples throughout the United States. The diagnosis of infertility is usually given to couples who have been attempting to conceive for at least 1 year without success.
Conception and pregnancy are complicated processes that depend upon a number of factors, including:
* Is infertility primarily a woman’s problem?
* It is a common assumption that infertility is primarily related to the woman. In reality, only
one-third of infertility cases are related to the woman alone. Statistically, one-third of
infertility problems are related to men and the remaining one-third is a combination of
fertility factors involving both partners or unknown causes. Unknown causes account for
approximately twenty percent of infertility cases.
What causes infertility in women? The most common cause of female infertility is ovulation disorders. Problems with ovulation affect about 25% of all infertility situations. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, which can happen when a woman has had pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis; Congenital anomalies (birth defects) involving the structure of the uterus, and uterine fibroids which are associated with repeated miscarriages; and aging, since the ability for ovaries to produce eggs tends to decline with age, especially after the age of 35.
What causes infertility in men? The most common causes of male infertility are azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, infertility in men is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality. For men with low sperm count or motility issues, clinically proven supplements are available that can improve sperm parameters. SpermCheck is available with your local infertility clinic.
When should someone get tested for infertility?
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that women under 35 begin testing after trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 12 months. The recommendation for women over 35 is to begin testing after trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 6 months. Some couples or individuals find that they are more relaxed when trying to conceive if they believe that everything is normal.
How early can you get tested?
Couples may request that their health care provider conduct an exam to determine if everything is healthy and working correctly. It is also possible to use over-the-counter screening tests using testing kits to evaluate key aspects of fertility for both men and women.
How is infertility diagnosed? As already noted, couples are generally advised to seek medical help if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after a year of unprotected intercourse. The doctor will conduct a physical examination of both partners to determine their general state of health and to search for physical disorders that may be contributing to infertility. The doctor will usually interview both partners about their sexual habits in order to determine whether intercourse is taking place properly for conception. If no cause can be determined at this point, more specific tests may be recommended. For women, these include an analysis of body temperature and ovulation, x-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus, and laparoscopy. For men, initial tests focus on semen analysis. How is infertility treated? Approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional therapies such as drug treatment or surgical repair of reproductive organs. Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization account for the remaining infertility treatment options.