Infertility is a dreaded term. It carries a certain sense of finality for couples having trouble getting pregnant, and is accompanied with dread or despair. But how do you know if you really are infertile? Here are some facts that may be useful in learning more about infertility.
- Definition of infertility. Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization as the inability to conceive a child, particularly after two years of regular sexual intercourse without contraception. In the U.S., the failure to conceive bears special urgency for women past 35 years of age. Couples under 35 who have been unsuccessful after one year of trying unprotected intercourse, or couples over 35 who have been unsuccessful after six months are defined as infertile.
- Primary vs. Secondary infertility. Primary infertility refers to the inability to conceive for a couple that has never had a child. Secondary infertility is the failure to conceive following a previous pregnancy. The previous pregnancy in secondary infertility may or may not have resulted in birth.
- Prevalence: As much as 7% of all couples worldwide have problems with fertility
- Common female causes of infertility include hormonal problems, ovulation problems, malfunctioning fallopian tubes, infectious diseases, abdominal and pelvic surgeries, and advancing age. Your OB Gyn can help evaluate the cause of infertility, giving you a good chance to become pregnant.
- Common male causes of infertility include poor semen quality, low sperm count, and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, a disorder where the man’s sperm are viable, yet immotile. A semen examination can be done to help determine the male cause of infertility.
- There are some rare cases where each partner is fertile by mutual exclusivity; that is, they are independently fertile, but cannot conceive together.
- Rule of Thirds: In approximately one-third of cases, the cause of infertility can be attributed to a disorder in the female. Male factors account for one-third as well, and another one-third of infertility cases are attributable to problems in both the male and female.
- Even after extensive medical testing, the cause for 15% of infertility cases still remains unexplainable or unknown.
- Up to 90% of infertility cases can be treated with surgical repair of damaged reproductive organs, or even simply medical treatment.
- Nearly one million babies have been born as a result of in-vitro fertilization worldwide. Of the live births that have resulted from IVF, 50% have been singletons, 24% are twin births, and 5% are triplets.
Keeping these numbers, it also helps to seek the consult of a qualified OB GYN whom you can trust, and who can educate you further as you find solutions to your infertility. This would increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a family.