The Basics of Infertility: What You Need to Know

Many couples who don’t get pregnant after several months of trying may start to feel frustrated. They may blame themselves, and some may even begin to think the worst — that they’ll never have children.

These may seem like extreme reactions, but the roller coaster of infertility is all too real for millions of women, as well as men. In fact, 1 in 8 American couples will face the struggles of infertility.

First, it is important to note that infertility is not a lifestyle choice  —  it is a medical condition recognized by national and international health organizations. It is defined as one year of regular, unprotected sex with no conception for women under age 35. For women over age 35, the expected window of time for conception is reduced to 6 months.

While infertility is a fairly common problem, it is treatable in many cases. And being infertile is not the same as being sterile. About half of couples who have difficulty conceiving at first go on to have children, usually after seeking medical help.

Infertility is not just the woman’s problem. About one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner and one-third to the male partner. The other third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or is unexplained.

Most people who experience fertility problems don’t realize they have them until they try to have a baby. That’s because infertility doesn’t have any outward symptoms, other than the lack of conception. But there are some lifestyle choices that may increase your risk for infertility.

Age is the single most important factor in a woman’s ability to conceive. Waiting until later in life to have kids can significantly increase the risk of infertility. By age 40, her chances of getting pregnant drop to less than half that of a woman age 35 or younger. By age 45, her chances for delivering a baby are less than 10 percent. Men are also less fertile after age 40.

Smoking and drinking alcohol can increase the risk of infertility in both men and women. Obesity in both sexes can also negatively impact a couple’s ability to conceive. For example, women who are overweight may skip ovulation, and overweight men may have low quality sperm.

It goes without saying that quitting smoking and losing weight may help increase your chances of getting pregnant. In addition to changes you can make on your own, there are many treatment options available that can help. Nearly 90 percent of infertility cases can be treated with medication or minimally invasive surgery. In vitro fertilization (IVF) usually offers couples the best chance for pregnancy, but most of them don’t need it.

The doctors at Fertility and Endocrine Associates have helped hundreds of couples navigate the emotional journey of infertility. We offer comprehensive testing to determine the root cause of your condition. Once we understand your unique situation, we can create a customized treatment plan and guide you every step of the way.

If you’re feeling frustrated, we’re here to offer both help and hope. Call us for a consultation at 502-897-2144.