Infertility means difficulty in conceiving (becoming pregnant) despite having regular sexual contact and not using birth control. Primary infertility refers to couples who have not become pregnant after at least 1 year having sex without using birth control methods, secondary infertility refers to couples who have been able to get pregnant at least once, but now are unable.
There is no definite cut-off point to say when a couple is infertile.. Many couples take several months to conceive. About 84 couples out of 100 conceive within a year of trying. About 92 couples out of 100 conceive within two years. Healthy couples under age 30 who have sex regularly will have a 25% to 30% per month chance of getting pregnant each month.
It is usually worth seeing a doctor if you have not conceived after one year of trying. However, if you are 35 years or older, or if you have a reason to suspect an underlying problem, you should seek care earlier. For instance, if you have very irregular menstrual cycles (suggesting that you are not ovulating or releasing an egg), or if you or your partner has a known fertility problem, you probably should not wait an entire year before seeking treatment.
The Impact of Infertility
Infertility is a medical condition that has many emotional aspects. Feelings such as anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety are common and may affect your self-esteem and self-image.
It is important to know that these feelings are normal responses to infertility and are experienced by many couples. Although a doctor will describe various treatments and realistic odds of success with treatments, you must decide how far you will go in your attempts to conceive.
Coming to a joint decision with your partner about goals and acceptable therapies is important.
How can you increase your chances of getting pregnant?
Couples can increase the chances of becoming pregnant each month by having sex at least every 3 days before and during ovulation.
Ovulation occurs about 2 weeks before the next menstrual cycle (period) starts.
Therefore, if a woman gets her period every 28 days the couple should have sex at least every 3 days between the 10th and 18th day after her period starts.
Having sex before ovulation occurs is especially helpful because sperm can live inside a woman’s body for at least 3 days.
A woman’s egg however, can only be fertilized by the sperm for a few hours after it is released.
For both men and women a healthy lifestyle will contribute to your chances of conceiving.
- Tobacco & Alcohol are known to have a negative effect on the fertility of both men and women, as well as on the development of a fetus in pregnancy.
- You have a reduced chance of conceiving if you are very overweight or underweight
- Stress has been known to negatively influence libido in men, and the menstrual cycle in women.
- In general it is advised to keep a healthy diet and have some regular physical exercise.
Fertility Testing and Diagnosis
Infertility can be caused by various factors; Male, female, or a combination of the two. In approximately 30% of cases no reason will be found.
For couples who have not conceived after one year of trying it may be worth seeing a specialist. The doctor can check for some common causes, evaluate and discuss possible treatment options.
If you and your partner have been unable to have a baby, you’re not alone. At least one out of seven couples has trouble conceiving. During this time, it is normal to experience feelings of frustration, jealousy, anger and stress. However, once you begin to explore your medical options, you’ll find that fertility treatments offer hope for a successful pregnancy.
Treatment of Infertility
Sometimes the factors affecting your fertility are easy to detect and treat, but in many cases a specific reason for infertility may be difficult to identify.
After a full evaluation, your physician can give you a reasonable idea of your chances of achieving pregnancy with various treatment options.
Treatment depends on the cause of infertility. It may involve:
- Education and counseling about the condition
- Fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Medicines to treat infections and clotting disorders
- Medicines that help the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries
Assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) involve manipulation of sperm and ova or embryos in vitro with the goal of producing a pregnancy. Examples of ART are intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The choice of which treatment to pursue, if any, is strictly a personal one. Side effects, costs and expected success rates are important factors to consider when choosing a treatment plan.
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As many as 1 in 5 couples diagnosed with infertility eventually become pregnant without treatment. More than half of couples with infertility become pregnant after treatment.