What is infertility?
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that inhibits a couple’s ability to make a baby. Infertility involves a couple. If a couple has not been able to conceive after 12 months of regular intercourse and the woman’s age is less than 35 years, then most experts would say this couple meets the definition of infertility. If the woman’s age is greater than 35 years and a couple has been trying to conceive for six months without success, then this couple would also be considered to have infertility.
To learn more read the ASRM Fact Sheet on “Infertility: An Overview”
When should I see a specialist?
- If you are under 35 years of age, have been trying to conceive for 12 months or more and have no risk factors for infertility then you should schedule an appointment for a fertility evaluation.
- If you are over 35 years of age, have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more and have no risk factors for infertility then you should make an appointment for a fertility evaluation.
- If you are over 40 years of age and are trying to conceive or thinking of trying to conceive you should make an appointment today for a fertility consultation.
Women or couples of any age with risk factors for infertility (see below) should make an appointment today for a fertility consultation.
What are risk factors for infertility?
- Women who do not get their periods or whose periods are not regular (coming at least every 30-35 days).
- Women with a history of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or endometriosis.
- Women with known or suspected uterine/tubal disease. This includes women with fibroids or women who have a history of gonorrhea or Chlamydia.
- Women whose male partner has a history of groin or testicular surgery, adult mumps, impotence or other sexual dysfunction, chemotherapy and/or radiation, a history of subfertility with another partner or whose male partner has had an abnormal semen analysis.
What is normal fertility?
The majority of couples (80-90%) will conceive within the first year of trying.
How common is infertility?
- Infertility affects approximately 8-10% of all couples.
- Female factors can cause a couple to be infertile 30-40% of the time.
- Male factors are found to be the cause of infertility about 30% of the time.
- In another 30-40% of couples both female and male factors contribute to the couple’s infertility. In about 5-10% of couples, infertility remains unexplained even after a fertility work-up.
For more information visit the Common Causes of Infertility page.
What to expect at your first visit?
The initial consultation with your physician is a thorough review of your history and medical records. You will also have a physical exam and possibly an ultrasound will be performed. Blood work may also be ordered but testing is individualized and every test is not performed on every person.
During this visit, you will have the opportunity to have your questions answered and to participate in developing a plan for further evaluation and/or treatment. We strongly encourage both partners to be present for this meeting.
This plan is based on the information provided by your medical history and physical examination. It is designed to focus on and answer many important questions including:
- Are you ovulating?
- Are your fallopian tubes normal?
- How does your uterus appear on ultrsound?
- Are the sperm normal in number and in function?
Once your diagnosis is established, a treatment plan will be tailored to suit your personal situation. After your initial consultation with a physician, an individualized, diagnostic plan will be outlined to determine the cause of your infertility. The recommended approach will depend on your age, diagnosis, the duration of infertility, any previous treatments, and your personal preferences.