Infertility is (in most cases) a treatable medical problem defined as a disease or condition of the male or female reproductive system which inhibits a couple’s ability to conceive after a year (six months for women over age 35) of unprotected intercourse, or to carry a pregnancy to term. “Primary infertility” is defined as infertility without any previous pregnancy. Secondary infertility occurs in a couple that has conceived naturally and gave birth to a child in the past.
Infertility affects over 6 million people in the U.S. alone, or approximately one out of every six couples. A number of factors may cause the condition, with over half of all couples having more than one cause. Infertility is equally likely to occur in either men or women; approximately 35 percent of infertility cases are due to a problem with either the man or the woman, 20 percent are due to a problem involving both partners and 10 percent are unexplained.
When the cause of infertility has been determined, a plan may be customized to meet your individual needs. Nearly all cases (85-90 percent) are treatable with medical therapies such as drug treatment, surgical repair of reproductive organs or assisted reproductive technologies. According to the Centers for Disease Control:
Two-thirds of the couples who seek medical attention for infertility will conceive a child.
7.3 million women ages 15 to 44 have an impaired ability to have children
2.1 million married couples are infertile
It is important to remember that, although infertility is often seen as a “female problem,” men have a role in over half of infertility cases (American Urology Assoc.)
First things first, if you believe you or your partner has an issue, find a fertility specialist that you feel comfortable with and know that they have your best interest at heart. A fertility specialist is usually an obstetrician/ gynecologist with advanced education, research, and professional skills in Reproductive Endocrinology (RE).