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Fertility FAQs

What are the common causes of infertility?

Infertility in women can result from various conditions, such as blocked fallopian tubes due to past infection, problems with ovulation like irregular or absent periods, and uterine fibroids. In men, infertility is most often caused by sperm abnormalities or low sperm count.

What is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy after having successfully done so before. It is also thought to be more common than primary infertility. Some couples say secondary infertility is more emotionally painful than primary fertility because the causes can be even more mysterious. Furthermore, secondarily infertile couples may not receive as much support or empathy as primarily infertile couples because they have already had a child.

When is it time to see a specialist?

If you are in good health and under the age of 30, you shouldn't worry about infertility unless you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for at least one year. If you are in your 30s and have been trying to conceive for six months, however, you should set up a fertility evaluation with your doctor as soon as possible. Your chances of having a baby decrease every year after your turn 30, so a timely evaluation is especially important.

How is infertility tested?

First a fertility specialist will conduct physical exams and evaluate your and your partner's health and sexual histories. If there are no obvious problems, like poorly timed intercourse or absence of periods, further tests will be needed. A man's sperm is tested for number, shape and movement. A woman's ovulation is monitored, and other procedures, such as a hysterosalpingography or a laparoscopy, can be done to look for problems in the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.

It can take months to determine the cause of a couples' infertility, so don't be surprised if your doctor doesn't find the source of the problem right away.

How is infertility treated?

In most cases, infertility is treated with medicine or surgery, but it can also be treated with assisted reproductive technology (ART) through procedures like in vitro fertilization and egg donation.

How successful is infertility treatment?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about two-thirds of couples who are treated for infertility are able to have a baby. In recent years, success rates have improved especially dramatically for couples who undergo ART. While the majority of couples who are treated for infertility are eventually able to conceive, success rates vary from couple to couple.

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